Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - The Tree

Me (in my Brownie sweater) and my sisters with our dog, Scottie #2
I have fond memories of our Christmas tree.  How absolutely perfect it was.  And it should be since it was artificial! :p

I never wondered why we didn't have a real tree when I was little.  We just didn't.  I accepted that and assumed that everyone did.  My father would take HOURS putting up that darn tree!  Every branch was color coated at the end and they had to go in specific holes or it just didn't work out.  Problem was we had one tree my entire life.  So after decades of use you can imagine how little color at the end of the branches remained.  There was much profanity involved in the assembly of our Christmas tree! :)

I don't think badly for my father about that though.  I'm sure if I had to put together that wicked little thing there'd be some less than lady-like phrases spewing from my mouth!  In fact when hubby and I first married and looked to purchase our first artificial tree (he's allergic to the real thing so this was a no brainer!), we got one and it was just like assembling the tree my dad used to put together.  After almost an hour (if that long) of attempting to erect this monstrosity, the hubby packed it back into the box and back to K-Mart we went to exchange it for a pre-lit deal that only had three pieces to put together...and the branches were on hinges to boot! :)  But this isn't about now it's about then so....

Our tree stood on a platform that my father built.  About 4-inches tall, 7-feet long and 4-feet wide, the tree sat on the back portion of the platform and train tracks were set down in a large oval with an inner, smaller oval. We kids loved playing with the trains each year and decorating the platform was as exciting as decorating the Christmas tree!
My baby sister (baby then, not now!).  You can see the baby's breath in this close up

When I was a teenager I went to live with my mom (divorced parents) and she had a real tree.  She would put baby's breath on some of the branches and it would look like the tree had snow on it!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tech Tuesday - FilmScan35 I Negative/Slide Converter

Now don't look for me to be writing many Tech Tuesday posts.  I'm not technologically sound...I'm not completely clueless either, but as for why things work the way they do...well, I'm not your girl.  "Thingie" and "Whatchamacallit" are technical terms in my book.  What I can do is review something from an everyday user point of view.

Now I've noticed that Dick Eastman has had a couple posts about negative/slide scanners recently.  That's not why I decided to do this post.  I actually am reviewing this because my friend Jen of Climbing My Family Tree had talked about these types of scanners and wanting one.  I gave her my quick 2 cents and promised a review when time allowed.  It does so here goes...

A year or so ago I finally got my negatives into archival sleeves and in binders (labeled by location of course!) and thought it was time to sit down and start scanning them.  Sadly, I believed that my all-in-one printer could do this and found out quickly that I was mistaken.  The printers I looked into that could handle negatives and slides were way more than I wanted to pay.  I started searching online and came across a number of them on Amazon.com.  What I saw were negative/slide converters that were either several hundred dollars or less than $100.  Nothing really in between.  I went with the FilmScan 35 I by Innovative Technology.  Most of the complaints at the time had to do with it taking so long rather than the quality and effectiveness of the converter itself, so I decided to give it a go.

I must start by saying that my laptop had been running Windows Vista.  The converter was compatible with Vista, but is anything really compatible with Vista?  The converter didn't work right off the bat and I had to reintall the software a few times before I got it running, but it would crash.  Sometimes it would work for one picture and sometimes it would work for an hour or more, but inevitably it would crash and burn.  I tried everything, removing the USB plug and putting it in another port, reinstalling the software/drivers/etc, closing it down and walking away, yelling at it, voodoo, etc.  Nothing worked. I could never tell if I was going to have a good day with it or a bad day.

I put it away for quite some time and decided that today was the day I was going to bring it out and see how it ran on Windows 7.  My laptop is no longer recognizing it's disk drive (time for the hubby to get friendly with my computer again) so I installed the converter on one of his laptops.  It took a little bit of time (not knowing whether to do the x82/32-bit or x64/64-bit installation, I apparently chose the wrong one and it failed to work until I did the 64-bit installation) and a lot of swearing, but I got it to work. No crashes.  It didn't freeze and it worked beautifully.  Well, as beautifully as a $65 converter can be expected to work.

So, how did it work?  That really depends on your negatives.  Some of mine were getting quite discolored.  This scanner will do the job of converting them when you get it working, but it's not going to fix your negatives.  You need photo editing software for that and be warned this converter comes with no photo editing software.  But what do you expect for $65?

The converter isn't super fast, but it's not awful.  You've got to wait a few seconds for the negative to adjust.  Once the image stops making subtle changes you can push the copy button on the top of the converter and capture the image.

Image immediately after inserting

Image after converter has stopped adjusting
The trays for the negatives have little prongs to help hold the negative in place.  Sadly the majority of the time these prongs don't match up with the display window and the picture on my negatives.  It's not difficult to overcome.  Just make sure you don't allow the prongs to catch and close the lid.  It won't damage your negative and the negative doesn't slip if the prongs aren't in the holes anyway.

It took me about 2 hours to convert 160 images.  I've got thousands to go, and I still have to fix the color on the majority of the converted photos, but I've converted them and that's better than they were before!

As you can see from the picture above, the program really isn't that complex.  You won't get lost using it, which is good, because the instruction booklet that came with the converter was 2x3-inches and 6 pages long.  I'm not joking...it was a tiny thing.  There is a quick-start guide and an instruction manual on the disk that comes with the converter, but it doesn't get extremely detailed. It could be better.

Now as for customer support.  There was NO contact information with the packaging or in the instructions booklets.  I had to go searching for a way to contact Innovative Technology online when I was having problems with the converter back in May 2009.  I emailed twice in a 6 week period and got the computer-generated response that my email was important to them and that I would be contacted shortly.  Well, that never happened.  In my 2nd email I even told them that I was preparing to review their product on Amazon.com and would appreciate a response so I could give a better review.  Nothing.

I've seen more current reviews saying how brilliant customer service was.  Maybe they fixed their customer service issues.  Bottom line...the converter is on the slow side, but it works and it's cheap.  It's cheaper than paying someone to do it for you, but you'll be investing a lot of time in the conversion process.  I think it's worth it in the end.  I gave it 3-stars when I rated in a year ago.  With Windows 7, I'll bump that up to 4-stars.  Now I just have to get smart on my photo editing software so I can fix the colors!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - The Villers Saga, Part III

The Bismarck Daily Tribune, 12NOV1897
"Remains Identified

Testimony was taken at the court house in Jamestown in the identification of the remains of August Tromer.  Mrs. Tromer was on the witness stand most of the time, and positively identified the body, or what remained of it, as that of her late husband.  She did so by a handkerchief found tied around his neck which she said was tied by herself, and a missing tooth in the upper jaw and the clothing that still remained in a fair state of preservation.  Several other witnesses remained to be examined.  There seems to be no doubt whatever of the identification of the body as that of Tromer.

While the identification of the body appears to have beeen satisfactorily established, it is stated that it will be a more difficult matter to fasten the crime upon Villers by evidence which will warrant a conviction.  It simply appears that Tromer was last seen with Villers, and surrounding circumstances point to the latter's knowledge of Tromer's death.  The fractured skull wound indicates that death was caused by a blow, and probably after a struggle.  in this connection, Mrs Tromer tells of a dream she had soon after his disappearance, in which her husband appeared with a great hole in his head, bleeding, and said he had escaped from a grave in the plowed ground.  She had a similar dream only a few weeks ago."

OK, now this is where I start becoming irritated with the reporting if not the investigation.  Does Mrs. Tromer's dream really have anything whatsoever to do with this investigation?  Knowing (or at least supposing) the science and beliefs of people at the time are a bit backward compared to modern times, how much of an impact did her "dream" have on the trial?  I hope not much.  That's not to say that I'm convinced of his innocence.  Despite what they say in this article about the challenges of pinning this crime on Martin Joseph Villers, they do a pretty darn convincing job of it.  They had some pretty damning evidence (that I will post in the future) and some extremely circumstantial and ridiculous evidence (will also post in future).  The overall impression I get is that they found their man and it was all about getting evidence to support that.  Perhaps that's how it works.  I just hope that the judge and jury were a bit more "innocent until proven guilty" driven!

Sunday Supper - Krazy Kake

This recipe was given to me by my mother-in-law, Dolores (Lori) Cayemberg nee Kuehl.  When my husband and his sisters had birthdays this was the cake they'd get.  It's quite an unusual recipe.  No eggs and it has vinegar in it!  Krazy! ;)

But I'll tell you what...it's the BEST tasting cake I've ever made.  Like a devils food.  So yummy.  Now the icing that is traditionally used for the cake, well, I don't use it.  It's made with Crisco shortening and in my opinion lacks much flavor.  I make homemade cream cheese frosting to go with the Krazy Kake in our house (which is now a birthday family tradition with us as well!).  I am including the original icing recipe, for those loyalists that want to have the initial recipe intact.

My husband and I are guessing that this recipe may have been a Depression Era recipe, when they had to make due with what they had.  We could be wrong though...there is quite a bit of sugar!  Anyway, here it is!

Krazy Kake

3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp vinegar
3/4 c. canola oil
2 c. cold water
1 recipe Krazy Kake Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).

In an ungreassed 9x13-inch cake pan sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  Make three separate holes in the dry ingredients.  In one, place the vanilla; in the second, the vinegar; in the third, the canola oil.  Pour the water over it all and mix together with a fork until combined.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Frost with Krazy Kake Icing, if desired.

Now isn't that KRAZY?!?!  Make three holes and pour different liquids in each topping it all with water and mixing with a fork!  But it's soooo yummy!

(Note:  You can make this cake in a regular bowl and then pour into a prepared cake pan for baking.  Making it directly in the cake pan will not allow you to remove the cake from the pan.  It will stick when prepared as directed above.)

Krazy Kake Icing

2-1/2 tbsp flour
1/2 c milk
1/2 c Crisco shortening
1/2 c confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Hershey's syrup

Blend the flour and milk in a saucepan over medium low heat.  Cook to a thick paste.  Remove from heat and set aside.  In another bowl beat the shortening and sugar until fluffy.  Add the paste and vanilla.  Beat until combined.  Spread over cake and drizzle with chocolate syrup.

(Note:  The recipe I have from my mother-in-law says "sugar" and not confectioners sugar.  After making the icing for the cake one time, my husband said that it was most likely confectioners sugar used since the icing mom used to make was not so grainy.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Villers Saga, Part II

The Bismarck Daily Tribune, November 11, 1897
"Finding of Tromer's Body"

(The first paragraph is pretty much impossible for me to read.  I can make out very little, but you can have a go if you like!  If you click on the image it will take you to a larger version!) 

The body lay in (a partial ??) grave three feet deep five feet seven inches long and just wide enough to contain the body.  The head was slightly bent to the south as though after placing it in the excavation it was discovered the grave was a little too short.  The lower limbs were extended, the right foot yet wearing a shoe.  The other shoe was thrown in upside down beside the body, evidently having been removed from the body in the death struggle or in carrying the body to the place of deposit.  On the lower part of the body was a few small field boulders that may have been laid upon it when it was interred or may have been thrown down the badger hols to get them out of the way of the plow. It has been suggested that they were placed in the grave to deflect and throw upward the plow share to prevent discovery of the body in the future.  Distant a hundred feet or more was a stone pile where the stones may have been obtained.

The place of the grave is in a depression on a rise in the ground out of sight of Viller's house, but distant not more than a quarter of a mile.  No other house is in sight than Mr John Ford's three or four miles away.  Work could be carried on indefinitely without discovery.  In the fall of '94 a straw stack stood there and after the attempted murder of Mrs Tromer the ashes of the pile which had been burned were forked over thoroughly with the expectation of discovering some of the bones had the body been thrown in the straw pile with the intention of cremation.  Two crops of grain have been grown over the grave, twice has the land been plowed and it may possibly have been worked indefinitely without discovery of the body had not the wild badgers dug into the grave and thrown up pieces of the skull, some of the clothing and a pocket knife.  The hiding place was well planned and executed and the murder had confidently counted on everything except the excavations of the wild animals.  His devices had but the one defect, but that proved fatal to the preservation of the secret.  The work of interring the body may have occupied the greater part of a single might or it may have been the work of several nights, the body the meanwhile being hidden in the straw.

If the body is (??) as that of Tromer as now seems probable, Villers, the (person) in the pen may be taken thence and (??) to stand trial for murder.  Villers was sentenced to nine and one half years (it gets bad again here, but they are undoubtedly talking about his attempted murder conviction that he was serving in the state penitentiary and that he would have gotten out in 1902).

Sorry for the lack of posts recently everyone!  I've been trying to kick a nasty cold for the past 1-1/2 weeks and it's getting there.  Slowly but surely.  I'm going to be concentrating on transcribing some of my Martin Villers posts before ramping up to the Advent Calendar posts!  Sharing a part of my family's history that I find very interesting.  Always hoping for that bit that could possibly point to Martin being innocent!  I can always hope!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Black Friday

Is that a contradiction?  I don't think so.  I hear so many people grumpy about Christmas music and items being in stores before Thanksgiving.  I'm an early shopper.  I like to get it all done preferably before Thanksgiving. Once Thanksgiving hits you've got a month to get everything done, and I'd prefer to spend that time decorating the house and baking cookies.  I want my children to have the wonderful holiday experiences that I did when I was younger.  Far too many people rush into the over-crowded stores to do holiday shopping and are in anything but a holiday spirit.  It makes me wonder how it was for my parents.  For their parents...and so on.  I'll have to talk to my mother and mother-in-law about that one.  What was it like?

I like to think of snowy, peaceful streets and shoppers strolling through stores.  Parents baking cookies for excited children.  I do tend to romanticize things though.  I know my mother and her siblings have long commented on how exact "A Christmas Story" was to their reality!

Today, for most people, marks the beginning to the Christmas season.  I know that my sisters-in-law and mother-in-law will most likely be heading out to Bath and Body Works (and various stores throughout the Green Bay area) in search of some great bargains.  I have fond memories of going with them (venturing out on Black Friday was something I never would have considered before becoming a part of the Cayemberg family!).  There are enough grumpy people out there today, but my Green Bay family are simply shining lights on a knock-down, drag-out shopping day.

I clearly recall sharking through the parking lot for a space at the mall and my SIL Lori rolls down the window in the bitter Wisconsin winter.  Hanging half out the passenger window she shouts with an enormous smile and a cheer that I hadn't felt on a Black Friday...ever, "Are you heading back to your car?"  The lady smiles back and points to a spot directly in front of us and near the front doors to the department store.  Who says the Irish are lucky!  Luck of the Belgian/Germans here!  On the way out of the department store, Lori flags down the nearest person and tells them where we're pulling out. They bring smiles to people's faces wherever they go.

My father-in-law was always up early and would head out at 3:30 or 4:00am on Black Friday over some deal he saw in the newspaper on Thanksgiving day.  He seldom got the item, but he loved the adventure of it.  He had the excitement of the holidays.

Whether deals were found or missed, a nice breakfast was had and stories were told.  Truthfully I've only been in Green Bay a handful of times on Black Friday, but every time I've been there (well, and any time I'm with my in-laws) shopping is involved.  I don't think I've ever caught a truly great deal when I've gone out on Black Friday, but I'm definitely in the Christmas spirit after being out!  Could you imagine if everyone could be so kind and cheerful at the beginning of what's supposed to mark such a season?

For those who think Christmas has become too commercialized.  You need to remember that Christmas and the holidays aren't what retailers make it.  It's what you make it.  And frankly, there is usually something to be purchased because we do something special for the season.  Whether it's extra baked goods, a fresh pine tree or presents.  What you purchase is up to you.  You decide.  Not the retailers.  

This is a very traditional time of year.  Whether you "believe" in Santa visiting all the good boys and girls in a celebration of the birth of Jesus, or whether you prefer to leave Santa out of it.  If you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice or any other winter holiday, it's a time steeped in tradition.  Have you started your own traditions or are you doing something you learned from your parents?  And if you learned it from your parents were they passing it on?  Find out.  Find out before you can no longer ask.

Maybe people need to look at the Holiday merchandise in the stores in October and the seasonal music playing early as a ramp up for their good attitudes?  Get in the Christmas spirit early.  After all shouldn't we keep Christmas throughout the year?...before we are visited by three spirits reminding us to ditch the Humbug!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - McGinnis, Monahan, Fay and Boyle all in one!

John and Alice McGinnis nee Monahan and John and Mary Fay nee Boyle
Normally I don't particularly like tombstones that don't give dates.  I'll have to admit that when I finally found this tombstone for my 3rd great grandmother (Alice Monahan) I was a bit disappointed.  However, what I do like about the tombstone is that it gives both ladies' maiden names.  I found that very unusual.

Alice McGinnis nee Monahan (as I mentioned) was my 3rd great grandmother.  John McGinnis was her 2nd husband.  Alice was the wife of Manus Maurice Boyle (of whom I've previously blogged) who died in the shipwreck of the Royal Charter in 1859.  May Fay nee Boyle was Manus and Alice's oldest daughter (my 3rd great aunt or 2nd great grand aunt...although I'm not as familiar with the second version of expressing it).  Mary's sister, Anna, is buried in Philipsburg, New Jersey.

Finding this tombstone wasn't difficult.  Finding St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery in Beaver Meadows, Pennsylvania was.  You blink and you miss it even though it's right off the side of the main road!  I had driven by it several times missing it until I was given specific directions!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - The Villers Saga, Part I

The Bismarck Daily Tribune, 10NOV1897
"Murder Revealed

Discovery of a Skeleton in Stutsman Supposed to Be That of August Tromer

Latter Disappeared Several Years Ago, and M. J. Villers, Now in the Pen, Suspected.

L. E. Booker Fails to Appear in United States Court to Answer the Charges Against Him.  (This is not a part of the Villers article and was just in the subheading.)

Found a Body
A murder mystery has been cleared up by the finding of a body in the southern part of Stutsman county supposed to be that of August Tromer.  This is the man whom it is believed M. J. Villers now serving a term in the state penitentiary at this place for the attempted murder of Mrs Tromer, killed some time previous to his attempted murder of the wife.  The body was plowed up in a field where it had been burried underneath a straw stack which later had been fired destroying all traces of excavations in the earth.

August Tromer, with his wife, were simple minded German folks living in LaMoure county.  several years ago Tromer disappeared and his whereabouts could not be discovered.  There were rumors of foul play and Villers, who had had dealings with Tromer was believed to have been connected with his disappearance but there was no proof.  Not long after this, Villers was arrested on a charge of murderously assaulting Mrs Tromer, the wife of the man who had disappeared, and was sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary where he now is.

At the time of the disappearance of Tromer, Villers occupied a thirty acre piece of land which he had rented from one Talley.  After Viller's incarceration in the pen, Talley took back the land, and "not long ago, while at work the plow suddenly dropped into soft ground near a badger hole and the plow, catching on something, was thrown out of the soil.  A piece of cloth was hanging from the share and as Mr Talley had lost a coat on the land the previous season he paid little attention to the matter except to think that he had discovered a portion of his old coat.  The next time around the field, however, in passing the same badger hole he discovered a (nub?) of preculiar shape, and near it pieces of a human skull.  It immediately suggested itself to him that he had discovered the long sought body of August Tromer.  Scraping away some of the soil he discovered that the body of a human being was interred there.  A pocket knife and a portion of a jacket were picked up together with a portion of the skull which showed evidences of being crushed in a some previous date.

It is believed that the body which has been thus discovered is that of Tromer, and there is also a belief and some evidence that Villers was the man responsible for his death.  Attorneys in Stutsman county and citizens interested are speculating whether if this can be shown to be the body of Tromer, Villers can be taken from the pen before the expuation of his present sentence tried for murder."

I find it interesting to say that "a murder mystery has been cleared up" when they found the body.  Perhaps the mystery of what happened to Mr. Tromer, but hardly the murder itself. Makes me wonder how fair the trial was! 

(Typographical errors are intentionally left in these transcriptions)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sunday Supper - Laura Laurent's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Laura Cayemberg nee Laurent and Patrick H Cayemberg Sr
This recipe originated with my husband's paternal grandmother Laura Cayemberg nee Laurent.  Her son, Patrick W. Cayemberg, began making them and they are a Cayemberg family favorite! 

1 c. oleo (or imperial margarine)
1 c. Crisco shortening
1-1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
6 c. flour
2 tsp baking soda, in a little hot water
1 (12 oz) bag chocolate chips

Combine the baking soda in a little hot water and set aside.

Cream together the oleo/margarine and shortening.  Add both sugars; mix well.  Add the eggs, vanilla and salt.  Mix well.  Add the baking soda/water mixture and mix. 

Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Mix in the chocolate chips.

Bake on cookie sheets at 375 degrees (F) for 11 minutes (9 minutes on the middle rack and 2 minutes on the top rack).  Remove from oven and cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheets before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

100th COG - There's One in Every Family - Martin Joseph Villers

The Bismarck Daily Tribune 20NOV1897
I'd love to get my husband more interested in genealogy and family history.  He is interested to an extent...how could he not be married to a genealogy nut, but there are certain aspects of it that he doesn't like.  He's not so big on the paperwork...I'm the meticulous one of the pair.  He's an analyst (seriously, that's what he does) so he could be great at busting through brick walls!  Unfortunately, there are some walls that he would like to rebuild and that's just not how this works.  You can't rebuild a wall and pretend that someone didn't exist.  You can't brush history aside...even the unsavory bits.  That's where Martin Joseph Villers comes into play.

I was farting around on Ancestry a couple years ago (yes, that's the technical term).  Just typing surnames into their search engine.  Trying to see if anything would come up in newspapers.  When I typed in Villers I got a bit of a surprise...I found several newspaper articles on one Martin Joseph Villers.  The father to Florence, Mary Ann, Louis, Alta Ellen, and Agnes.  Husband of Octavia Villers nee Waguener.  And murderer of August Tromer and attempted murderer of his wife, Pauline Tromer.

So who was Martin Joseph Villers to my husband?  He's my husband's great great grandfather.  I can understand how we don't want to find bad people in our family tree (particularly our direct line), but the truth is there's going to be bad people in there.  It doesn't reflect on who we are.

I've been fascinated by this discovery and sometimes I think that my husband would prefer it if I would stop digging.  I've received penitentiary records from North Dakota, copied all the newspaper articles I could find, etc.  I don't want to glorify what he did, but I want to know why he did it.  He had been a policeman in a previous census!  Part of me hoped to find something that would lead me to believe he was innocent.  The evidence was so circumstantial in the papers.  I had dreams of being able to request a pardon or reversal for MJ Villers.  Yeah...not going to happen unless something new comes to light.

The articles are fascinating.  The terminology involved and what they seem to consider "proof" is amazing.  If you read all the articles it's evident that he was considered guilty from the get go.  From a historical point of view the case was a first for the state of North Dakota.  They were unsure of how to try him for the murder of August Tromer when he was already serving time for the attempted murder of Pauline Tromer (not a problem today, but back then they weren't sure what to do!).  He was also the first person from Stutsman County sent to the state prison for a life term.  Now granted, these aren't goals we aspire to, but it's all very interesting.

I don't know if I'll ever know why he did what he did.  Was he desperate for land?  Money?  Did he have a falling out with the Tromers?  Why did the Villers family move from Wisconsin to North Dakota to begin with?  How did the Tromer family fare as time passed?  One thing I do know is that there will be more Martin Josephs as I continue researching.  It's a statistical...and genealogical fact.

Sorting Saturday - Digital Surname Sorting

I've heard lots of recommendations as to how to sort your files.  The bottom line is, that it has to be something that works for you...not someone else.  You need to be able to find your files when you need them.  This is how I sort mine...

Currently I'm researching 2 family trees.  My step-father's (Trunzo) and my children's (Cayemberg).  I have a "Tree" folder for each tree I'm conducting research on.  I could have split them further...one for my side of the family and one for my husband's, but when I'm entering people into my family tree program I'm entering both sides so it makes more sense to keep them under one.

Those "Tree" folders are broken down into surname folders.  Then under each surname folder I break them down a bit more into specific records/events. There are folders for Birth, Census Records, Death, Education, Immigration & Naturalization, Marriage, Military, Newspaper, Pictures, Probate, Property, and Tombstones.  Outside those folders I have miscellaneous items that don't really have a specific home.  I could create a Misc folder, but as a matter of personal preference don't.  I like seeing them floating around without a home so when I notice that I'm starting to acquire multiple records that can be grouped together I then create a new folder.  If I created that "Misc Folder" I know myself and just wouldn't check it often enough to see if things were ready for a new grouping.  Also in the free space I've got a surname "Research Log".  When I conduct research on a specific surname, in the log it goes.  It's also a great place for surname "To-Do" lists.

I use the PAF program for my family tree, but I have to admit that I'm eyeing the Legacy software after attending some of Legacy's webinars.  I like what I'm seeing.  I just haven't made the commitment yet.  More research is needed to see how flawlessly my tree will transfer.  Anyway, before I get distracted talking about a genealogical wish list...I was going to mention that in the PAF program I ensure that I've got people being assigned MRINs (Marriage Record Identification Numbers).  I'm sure the majority of programs can assign MRINs.

What this means (if you didn't know) is that people are assigned a specific number when they get married.  Documents in my binders are filed by Family Group Records and since the basis of those family groups are marriages, if someone got married their records go to that MRIN not under their parents.  Since my binder filing system already does that, my digital system mirrors it.  I don't place multiple copies under different surnames.  They go with their married surname.  So what do you do when you've got several marriages for an individual?  Well, that's really up to you.  I usually put them with the last marriage's MRIN, but you may have your own system.

The PAF program (and I'm sure most others as well) can print out a report that gives you the MRIN along with the couples they belong to.  It makes a perfect index when you can't remember what someone's married name was.  But I digress...that is more helpful with binder/paper files and that's another Sorting Saturday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

(Not) Funeral Card Friday - Konrad Flasch 1897

This is the oldest funeral card I have in my collection.  My mother-in-law gave me several photo albums of funeral cards.  I spent the better part of a week removing them from the album they were in, scanning them and then placing them in an archival safe album.  

I originally thought this was a funeral card for Konrad, but was told that it was actually a card in remembrance of the first mass he gave at St. Kilian's Church, Wisconsin on July 8, 1897.  He died in 1933. * The card is pretty extraordinary.  Very delicate and has held up fairly well considering its age.  I'm certain that Konrad was important to my mother-in-law's side of the family.  I don't know yet if he was related or if he was just a friend or important community figure.  I look forward to the journey!  When I kick the sicky-icky cooties that have invaded my house, I'll have to spend some time going through the newspaper articles she gave me as well and see if I can find any members of the Flasch family.  I know I have a treasure in these cards and newspaper clippings.  It's a great puzzle to put together!

Until that time, however, pass the tissues and hand me my cup of tea!....sniff

*Thank you John Uhlman for letting me know about the card and his death year! You can view his FindAGrave memorial set up by John with a great photo of him here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wisdom Wednesday - Whatever Can Go Wrong...

This week is a particularly painful week.  I just busted out my calendar for the upcoming year and transferred all of my appointments onto it.  It's a Sandra Boynton "Mom's Family Calendar" and since it covers 18 months I can start using it immediately.  It tracks the whole family so I love it.  It's been a staple in my house for the past several years...well apart from the one year that I tried my hand at a Doctor Who calendar that just didn't work well for me, but that's beside the point ;)

Anyway, I started putting everything onto the calendar.  I didn't realize how much nonsense I had coming up.  Doctor appointments for me and my toddler (three this week! and one an hour away!).  PTA Cookie Dough Fundraiser distribution on Wednesday.  Driving an hour away to pick up Cub Scout awards on Thursday.  PTA t-shirt pick up on Friday.  The week pretty much is a train wreck for my business and my citations that are just waiting to be corrected.

To top it all off, my oldest woke up Monday morning with a nasty eye.  Add on another doctor appointment Monday afternoon...just to find out that it wasn't pink eye.  Just allergies.  However, since I couldn't get him seen until the afternoon I had already ripped apart his sheets, pillow cases, stuffed animals, pillows and washed and Lysol-ed them to prevent the spread of the ichy-nasties which never came. That's not a bad thing though!

This weekend it'll be the hubby's birthday and a matinee to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I.  I may have to spend a couple of late evenings working on my citations to not feel like the entire week was a genealogical failure, but so far it hasn't happened.  The down-time in waiting rooms is just too impractical to have my laptop and papers there (no matter how much I'd like to).  Luckily, I've got my Kindle for iPhone and Shakespeare queued up in it.  Maybe I'll be able to catch up on the 8 Shakespearean plays I've fallen behind on in those odd moments.  It would be nice to feel like I got something accomplished.

It is a bit frustrating to have the week shot, but there's not much to be done about it except hang in there.  At least I'll take some kind of warped pleasure in being the only person available to help out the cookie dough fundraising company while handing out the orders.  It's about time they earned their money and they'll be stuck with a very grumpy me!  I'm mean, I know.

I had hoped to be nearly finished with my citation corrections by the end of this week, but I can see that I will have to add at least another week to that.  The only wisdom I can glean from this week is that whatever can go wrong, probably will.

Oh wait...is that a sore throat I feel?    Bring it on!

(Please allow me to beg forgiveness that this "Wisdom Wednesday" and the series I will be including on Wisdom Wednesday isn't based in the past. It's any wisdom and experience I'm gaining as I travel down the road to accreditation. There are certainly tidbits of wisdom to be gleaned by anyone else that may choose to take the same path!)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Surname Markers

The tombstone for Martin and Anna Blanchfield nee Boyle and 2 of their children.
For a few years I had been trying to locate the graves of several Blanchfield ancestors.  They had lived in Hazleton, Pennsylvania for a good portion of their lives before moving to and passing on in, Phillipsburg, New Jersey.  I had copies of their death records, but wanted to find the graves.  To be able to place flowers.  To just be where they were resting.  For those that aren't genealogists (professional or amateur) this may seem a bit odd, but it's not to us.  It's a connection.  A connection to people we love even though we never got to meet them.  When we find that grave, it makes a difference emotionally as well as in our research.

I had traipsed through Ss. Philip and James Roman Catholic Cemetery each time I traveled home, hoping that this time would be the time that I would find them.  I had found another "Blanchfield" marker, and it was a relative as well, but not my 2nd great grandparents.  I still felt empty and incredibly frustrated.  This past summer I found a kneeler.  A surname marker with nothing more than "Blanchfield" written on it.  I had to have walked past it for years without seeing it.  It's incredibly easy to miss (especially with little kids nagging you to get them out of a cemetery!).  The marker didn't make me feel much better at first though, because I still had no idea which Blanchfield it belonged to.

I took the surname marker and decided to post it on FindAGrave.com.  I don't know why.  I didn't really have any information to go with it.  I just posted a close-up and a picture that had details illustrating how to find it in the cemetery.  I didn't expect to get closer to solving the mystery of which Blanchfield lay buried beneath, but I did!

I received an email from a cousin I had never met and she saw the post on FindAGrave.  She told me that it was my 2nd great grandfather AND grandmother buried there (Martin and Anna Blanchfield nee Boyle)...as well as two of their children.  How did she know for sure without a name on the marker?  Her grandmother, a Blanchfield, is in her 90s and still going strong!  Just when things get frustrating there are angels that fly in and fill in the blanks!  Thanks, Becky!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - Obituary Joseph Melzer

"Joseph Melzer

Joseph H. Melzer, 86, of rural Allenton (Town of Wayne), died Monday, Aug. 21, 1989, at St. Agnes Hospital.

He was born Aug. 23, 1902, in the Town of Wayne, a son of Frank and Mary Schweitzer Melzer.  On Nov. 15, 1927, he married Elizabeth Batzler at St. Kilian Catholic Church, St. Kilian.

Mr. Melzer was a member of St. Kilian Catholic Church and the church's Holy Name Society.

Survivors include two sons, Robert and his wife Janet, and Joseph and his wife Theresa, both of the Town of Wayne; eight  grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and one sister, Sophie Weninger of Lomira. His wife preceded him in death on Feb. 6, 1962.

Funeral services will be held Thursday at 10 a.m. at Miller Funeral Home, Kewaskum, and at 10:30 a.m. at St. Kilian.  The Rev. Victor Kemmer will officiate. Burial will follow in the parish cemetery.

Friends may call today from 4 to 9 p.m. at the funeral home where a parish vigil will be held at 8 p.m."

This was a newspaper clipping that was handed down to me by my mother-in-law, Dolores "Lori" Cayemberg nee Kuehl.  There is no date on the clipping, although I would imagine it was near the date of Joseph's death in 1989.  There is no mention of which paper this clipping came from but the family is from Wisconsin and has been for generations.  Melzer is a family name on Lori's side, but I still need to figure out where Joseph belongs!

Sunday Supper - Booyah! It's a Wisconsin Thing!

Patrick Cayemberg's FAMOUS Chicken Booyah! If dad was making Booyah, everyone would be stopping by for a bowl! Booyah is a Wisconsin thing. As I'm told it's not even an ENTIRE Wisconsin thing. There are pockets of Booyah tribes all over Wisconsin. Our tribe is from Green Bay.

Now the Booyah recipe is enormous. That's not an understatement. If you try making this recipe in just a soup pot, it's never going to work. You'll have to halve the recipe or make it like a 'Sconnie does and get an enormous pot (or even an old beer keg) on the gas camper cooker and start that bad boy up! Dad used what looked like an oar to stir the doggone thing! It was awesome...and it took all day! It was a project. For dad, it was a passion.

After Dad passed this past May we all decided to celebrate his memory by making Booyah (sadly I have no pictures of Dad making the Booyah.  All of the pictures were of us making it in his memory).  We made the full recipe and served it up the day that we were supposed to have had Mom and Dad's 50th anniversary party (so many people had originally planned to be in the area for the party).  Friends and family came to offer support for our family and by the end of the afternoon there was one bowl of Booyah left!  Yes, it's THAT GOOD!

Patrick Cayemberg's Chicken Booyah

Cook 1st
2 (14 ½ oz) containers chicken broth
1-1/2 gallon water
1-1/2 lbs oxtail or beef bones
1 lb lean pork, cut up
10 lbs stewing chicken, quartered
¼ c. salt
1 tbsp pepper

Cook 2nd
2 lbs cabbage, chopped
2 lbs onions, chopped and divided
1-1/2 bunch celery, chopped and divided
1 small rutabaga, chopped
3 tbsp chicken base (Tones brand)
2 tbsp beef base (Tones brand)

4-5 lbs red potatoes, medium dice
3 lbs carrots, large chop
2 cans peas
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can cut green beans
1 tsp accent
½ tsp rosemary
2 tbsp poultry seasoning
1 (40 oz) can vegetable juice
1 (28 oz) can chopped tomatoes
¼ lb butter (1 stick or ½ cup)
1 lemon, juiced (abt 1 tbsp)

Add meat, bones, water, broth and half of the onions and celery to the booyah or soup pot.  Add salt and pepper.  Boil meat until done.  Remove meat and set aside to cool.  Debone.  (This can be done the night before).

To the booyah pot add cabbage, rutabaga and the remaining onion and celery.  Bring to a boil.  Add beef and chicken base and poultry seasoning.  Boil 45 minutes.

To the booyah pot, add potatoes and carrots.  Boil 30 minutes.

Add deboned meat, tomatoes, tomato juice, canned peas, corn, and green beans.  Bring to a boil then add accent, rosemary, lemon juice and 1 stick butter.

I know the recipe may seem a bit odd in places, but seriously...don't change a thing!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sorting Saturday - Photo Files

Benjamin and Daniel Cayemberg with their Papa, Patrick Cayemberg.
So last Saturday I was looking for pictures of my boys picking apples in Wisconsin. It was about 3 years ago that we went and I had some great pictures of my boys having fun with their parents and grandparents in the orchard.  I couldn't find the pictures on my laptop.  My desktop is a hopeless wreck and is soon to be replaced...I wasn't even going to attempt to log onto that thing!  But I swore that they should have been on  my laptop!  Couldn't find them.

Over the summer I had installed Windows 7 over my crap program, Windows Vista (an evil joke Microsoft put out that should have been labeled as malware considering how it wreaks havoc on everything).  I suppose because we tried installing it over top of the old program it took up more space and we had issues with me running out of room on the hard drive.  I'll stop trying to be technical, because I can only pretend to understand the headache that was my computer in past months...fixing the technological train wreck was my hubby's job.  The point is, after we resuscitated my computer and fixed the space problem I noticed pictures missing.
Benjamin Cayemberg - Wisconsin, Autumn 2007

All was not lost.  I do have a backup on an iomega drive (I do need to back it up more frequently though), so I pulled out the iomega and started transferring files back over to my laptop, and then actually backing up my laptop (not just pictures, but everything).  What I realized was that I needed to reorganize my files.  I had a good system, but grew neglectful of it.  So that's what I spent a few hours of my time doing last Saturday.  It felt good too.

So what's my system for sorting my photos?  Well, I used to file them by date when I was younger.  That's wonderful if you can remember when something happened.  I found that through the years I couldn't remember, but I could remember places. 

Daniel Cayemberg - Wisconsin, Autumn 2007
I haven't been outside the U.S. yet (apart from a couple short day trips to Mexican border towns that didn't include pictures), so my  folders are by state.  I upload my pictures to Shutterfly, so within each state folder I have at least 2 sub-folders..."for upload" & "uploaded".  Pretty self-explanatory.  I don't take a lot of video with my camera (I'm bad...I should take more), so if I actually have video, I put that in it's own sub-folder.

It's a system that works for me.  It may not work for everyone.  I mean, the bottom line is that you've got to be able to find your stuff.  As long as you can find your files, that's what really matters!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Funeral Card Friday - Richard List

I was given a treasure trove of funeral cards from my mother-in-law.  About 200 in all.  The artwork on some of them can be truly gorgeous.  This card is for Richard List.  He was a truck driver and my husband's uncle.  He died in a truck crash three years before my husband was born.  My husband was named Richard in his honor.

52 WTBG, Week 45 - East Bell County Genealogical Society

I've been a member of the East Bell County Genealogical Society since June of this year.  I don't have family (that I know of) from Bell County or Texas for that matter, but I'd never had the opportunity to join a society before and figured it was time to do so.

I'm still feeling my way around as the new kid, but everyone has been extremely welcoming.  Many were surprised that I was driving the 30 minutes from Killeen to Temple for the meetings as there had been a society closer to Killeen.  It didn't really matter if there was a closer one...I knew where EBCGS was meeting and had paid my dues so I wasn't planning on going anywhere!

I didn't know what to expect at my first meetings, and felt a bit awkward sharing my recent research at monthly meetings...knowing it wasn't pertinent to anyone else in the room (little to no chance of connections or shared names), they were all as respectful listening to me as any other member.  What I was surprised and delighted to discover (and had been clueless about) was that we got a lovely presentation/class at each meeting!

My first meeting had a class on organizing your files.  While I didn't share the viewpoint of the gentleman giving the class I was able to glean some information to use in my own organization (color-coding my files, but I only intend on coding my 2 husband's grandparents and my 2...the gentleman giving the course went on coding and I wondered when he'd run out of colors! :) )

The second class was presented by a lady, Dr Patricia Rye, who spoke to us about the book she had just researched and written called, "My Father's War" (although I have not been able to find a copy of her book yet...I will have to ask about that at our next meeting!).  She also introduced us to another book, "The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men  Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II" (an exceptional tale and I do intend on purchasing/reading it...it's on my "wish list"!).  She found information on some of her father's air crew in the 2nd book so they tied in nicely for a brilliant story.

Our last meeting was on the SAR (Son's of the American Revolution) and the process of joining.  While I don't believe anyone in my immediate family has even the slightest possibility of joining the SAR or DAR, I did find the information useful.  If I ever need to submit an application for anyone else, I've got some excellent starting information.

I look forward to our next meeting!  You can check out the East Bell Count Genealogical Society's website (through Rootsweb) at: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txebcgs/

The site gives you important information regarding joining EBCGS and what their preservation projects are, their library acquisitions, and much more!

I'm also a member of other local, state, national societies (The Greater Hazleton Historical Society, The Wisconsin Historical Society, The National Genealogical Society, etc) even though I'm too far away to attend most meetings.  These societies do so much and rely on your membership to do their good work.  If you haven't joined ones pertaining to your research, why not?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Veterans Are One of Our Greatest Treasures!

I want to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who has served honorably in our Armed Forces. Without our service members past and present our country would not be where it is today. We would not have gained our independence, we would not have unified a divided country, we would not have stopped the atrocities of 2 World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. There are many conflicts not mentioned which do not make light of the sacrifices that servicemen and women made in them. Sometimes the sacrifice was in time away from family and long hours. At times it was witnessing the horrors of those wars or even succumbing valiantly to them.

Not everyone serves their country as a Veteran does and not everyone can or should. You are unique, respected and given a burden that many would not be able to bear. Whether you served many months or many years in our Armed Forces makes no difference. You served. Thank you!

I'd like to now pay tribute to my family members who have served (I hope I didn't miss any!).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wisdom Wednesday - So far so good

Starting on Monday I sat down at my office and dedicated my day to my job...genealogy.  It felt good to not be running around doing PTA and Cub Scout stuff.  Why didn't I do this sooner!

As I lay in bed on Sunday night mentally preparing myself for what I had plans of conquering first on Monday I realized that I wasn't happy with how my sources were cited.  Furthermore, I'm sure that they weren't 100% perfect.  What I mean is that I was sure there were some elements to some citations that were missing.  That's not how I want to start out.  So I decided to go through all of my sources and ensure that they were properly cited.  Sounds like an incredibly daunting task, but it really isn't too bad and this is why...

About 4 years ago I took an online course on genealogy.  "Family History Studies: Genealogy I" through Monterey Peninsula College and Karen Clifford was the instructor.  Even though I had been doing genealogy for about 6 years, after talking with a friend who had taken Karen's course I had decided to start with the basics.  Jenn (my friend) told me that there was plenty to learn about organizing your materials and that it was worth starting at the beginning.  It was great advice.  I loved Karen's course.  I would have loved to have taken the remaining courses, but my infant turned into a toddler and it just wasn't in the cards at the time.

When I took the course I began using the Personal Ancestral File (PAF) genealogy program that you can download from FamilySearch.org for free.  I was planning on using it just for ease in the course, but I actually found that I rather liked it and have been using it ever since.  For a free program it's incredibly good.  But I digress...back to fixing my sourcing/citations.  When I was in the course a suggestion was made (please forgive me if I get this one wrong, Karen) that in the "Notes" section for each person to include the following areas:

-History (could be of the region, family, any background information)
-Traditions (family legend that has not been verified with facts yet)
-To Do

I thought this was brilliant.  Still do actually.  The problem I noticed was that it takes a lot of paper printing reports out if you have those headings complete with ALL the sources in each person's notes!  Plus, if you go to print out a Family Group Record and have cited a census for several of the family members, it prints out under every person in that FGR (because it's been transcribed into the notes!).  Not necessary.  I was killing trees like crazy.  I love sources.  I don't just stop at a birth certificate.  I want everything I can find regarding the event.  Mistakes can be made and you want to be accurate!

In addition to taking up space when you print, it's potentially problematic when you have to go back and make a correction to the citation.  You have to figure out which people have, say, the "1920 US Federal Census for the Thomas Brown household" and fix each one.  Talk about a headache!  So what I decided to do was to take the source/citation information and transcription (yes I transcribed each source...I'm a bit anal that way) and transferred it to the area meant for citations.

In the citation area it had fields for:
-Source Title
-Publication information
-Call number
-The actual text (great for my transcriptions)

It would then show you a sample footnote at the bottom AND you could attach the image of the source to the citation itself.  Drawback - if your source had 2 pages to it (say your family continued onto the next page in a census) you can only attach one picture.  If you had to change the citation, however, you change it in that one place and it's fixed for everyone linked to the citation.  Awesome.

What was less awesome is the 36 pages of people that I have to adjust citations on.  I will persevere though.  In the past 2 days working 3 to 4 hours each day, I've gotten through 8 pages.  It'll be well worth it knowing that it's done properly.  It needs to be done properly.

The bright side is that I'm catching that glitch and fixing it now.  I had started reentering my entire tree into the PAF program when I took Karen's course.  I didn't transfer the gedcom file from my old program because I knew there were flaws in my old tree and after learning the right way to do things, I realized that the best way to make sure my conclusions were sound was to start over...no matter how huge a task it seemed, I knew it was the right thing to do.  I hadn't finished reentering even half of the tree when Danny became a toddler so the task could have been greater.  I prefer looking at that bright side!

So I figure in another week to week and a half I'll be back at the actual research and data entry for my family tree.  I've got a busy couple of weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, but won't be deterred from my job.  All in all, so far so good!

(Please allow me to beg forgiveness that this "Wisdom Wednesday" and the series I will be including on Wisdom Wednesday isn't based in the past. It's any wisdom and experience I'm gaining as I travel down the road to accreditation. There are certainly tidbits of wisdom to be gleaned by anyone else that may choose to take the same path!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Neil Brown and Nancy McCoy

I looked for the tombstone of Neil and Nancy Brown for at least five years...probably more. They all start blurring together after awhile. Tombstones I'm trying to find, that is. Not ancestors. I'm pretty good at keeping them straight. Now ask me in 30 or 40 more years and it may be another story!

I had frequently written to Saint Gabriel's Roman Catholic Church in Hazleton for information since I began doing genealogy back in 2000. They were always extremely helpful in getting me copies of baptism and marriage records and I always ensured that I enclosed a donation to the church when requesting information! After all, Saint Gabriel's is my family's church. My ancestors have been parishioners since it opened and I was the last person in my family baptized there...until my littlest was born, but that's another story.

I know I had asked about Neil and Nancy (nee McCoy) Brown's tombstones before, but never got any information back. That's most likely my fault because when I would send in a request for information I made sure that I asked for several things so I wasn't constantly inundating them. It may have gotten over-looked. My worst fear was that there were no records.

Each year I try to make pilgrimage home to Pennsylvania with the kids. Time for Grandma and Papa to see the boys. Time for me to see them and two of my three sisters. I certainly can't pass up that time to do some research too! I just try not to overwhelm my little guys with traipsing around cemeteries. They don't appreciate it...yet!

So with a bit of perseverance, this summer was THE summer. Saint Gabriel's website finally had an email address! Score! I could start spamming, er, requesting information from them with greater ease and speed! I had a lovely conversation in several emails with the sweet lady that is the secretary for the parish. She not only found my ancestors' grave, but gave me directions and hooked me up with the caretaker to take me straight to it!

It was the genealogical highlight of my trip! I finally had a birth and death year for both Neil and Nancy! Strangely enough I had walked passed their tombstone before and never noticed it. It's sunken almost completely into the ground. It's only a matter of time before it's completely gone.

A bonus to my research...the wonderful lady helping me also helped me find his son's tombstone...and I never asked for it! His son's tombstone only had "The Neil Brown Family" written on it. I prefer tombstones that give me a bit more, but you know, I was actually happy to know who was there! I already knew when Neil Jr and his wife Bridget died but now I know where to lay flowers on those annual pilgrimages!