Thursday, April 29, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Richard Cranch Greenleaf Drawings


My mother recently unearthed a set of drawings (at least I think they're drawings) done by my great-great uncle, Richard Cranch Greenleaf (1887-1961). They're in poor condition, so I need to somehow get them stabilized, or at least in decent acid-free housing. I'm fairly certain they depict locations in France. Each is signed and five of the six have captions (in pencil) in the lower left corner. I need to work on deciphering his handwriting to get more details.

The sixth drawing, shown, has a more extensive caption, indicating that it was used as the basis for a lithograph to benefit the American Red Cross. (Unless it's actually a lithograph rather than a drawing. I can't tell for certain.)

Family Tree Maker for Mac

From Eastman: "Ancestry.com Announces New Macintosh Version of Family Tree Maker"

I'm not sure what it says about my life, that Family Tree Maker for Mac is the most exciting news I've heard in a while. I've needed to harmonize my Reunion database with my Ancestry.com online tree for a while, and the prospect of switching to Family Tree Maker (which I'm assuming will interface directly with Ancestry.com) puts this project in new perspective.

Definitely food for thought... more later...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Mystery Woman


Okay, so this post isn't so wordless. But just a bit of back story as to why I chose it tonight.

Looking for other photographs yesterday for a project, I decided to look at originals instead of browsing files. I came across this one from my maternal grandmother's collection. There is nothing on the photo that tells me blatantly who it is.

A few clues:
1. The photograph is marked on the front, Broadbent & Taylor, I assume the photograph studio.
2. Additional details printed on the verso: S. Broadbent ; W. Curtis Taylor ; 914 Chestnut St. ; Philadelphia.
3. Penciled in the upper right, "April 1878"

I'm wondering if it might be Sarah Drexel Fell Van Rensselaer (b.1860) at age 17 or 18, assuming the penciled date is when the photo was taken. (See photograph on earlier post.) But maybe I'm reaching.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Madness Monday, or, Milestone Monday: My First Death Certificate

So back in March, during the Fearless Females posts, I wrote about my great-great grandmother, Helen Coolidge Adams being my then brick wall. I've been trying to prove or disprove that Helen is the daughter of Henry Coolidge and Margaret Hawley. Well, brick wall no longer -- thanks to the good people at NYC Vital Records!

Not long after writing the Fearless Femals post on Helen back in March, I finally found her death notice in the New York Times. It was brief, but as it turns out contained vital information. The notice states:
"ADAMS--On Sunday Jan. 20, 1929, at the Hotel Devon, 70 West 55th St., in her eighty-first year, Helen Coolidge, wife of the late William Adams. Funeral private."
[New York Times, Jan. 21, 1929, p. 15]
NYC Vital Records general information states that death records are filed by place of death, so thankfully the death notice told me not only when and where she died (Hotel Devon), but gave me an exact address. And it was enough information to fill out the request for a copy of her death certificate.

Today I received my self-addressed stamped envelope back from NYC Vital Records. I felt like I was back in high school waiting for a college acceptance -- feeling the envelope for thickness to figure out whether it contained my desired information or was a polite "sorry no luck" letter. Happily, the envelope contained two sheets of paper, double sided copies each, containing Helen Coolidge Adams' death certificate.

Scanning it quickly I found that the certificate did indeed list her parents, as follows--

-- Henry Coolidge and Margaret Hawley.

In addition to her parents, the certificate also list other interesting information. Birth date and place, 13 Nov. 1848, Connecticut, as well as her place of burial, "Cremation Fresh Pond". Page two of the certificate was a statement signed by her son William, understanding her wish for cremation and releasing the remains to the undertaker. I'm wondering if I should take the "Fresh Pond" bit literally.

Anyway, now I have this link and am free to move forward by going backward to the Coolidge and Hawley families.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thomas & Margaret McCormick

I've been working on tracing my paternal grandmother's family (among other things) -- one of my few family lines for which I had no information existing beyond what I or a handful of other family members remember.

My grandmother, Ann McCormick, was born to Irene Gillespie and John Stoddard McCormick in Albany, 1919. She had one younger brother who never married or had children (that I know of, which in this case, sadly isn't saying much). Last spring I was able to track Irene's parents and found Henry and Anna Gillespie in Albany.

I also found a family that could be John's, Thomas and Margaret McCormick, but have yet to be able prove or disprove it. There's a lot that matches -- birth places, names of siblings, but no concrete proof, and with a name as potentially generic as John McCormick, I need more.

But in the meantime, I've grown oddly attached to Thomas & Margaret McCormick and think I'll be disappointed if they turn out not to be my great-great grandparents. I found their death notices in the Albany Times Union (in 1905 and 1927) which give me nothing more concrete than siblings of John. The siblings names match those listed in John's obituary and the 1910 census record I think is his.

A few nights ago I found their tombstone pictured at Find A Grave. It's a shared tombstone in the St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands (Albany County). The dates on the stone match the death dates I have for this couple from their death notices. Linking back to comments posted at the site, I found that the interment records at St. Agnes are being indexed online by the Troy Irish Genealogy Society. Thomas' record has been indexed, so I can request the interment record for $5, which I'll do Monday. I'm not sure what more this will tell me, and feel like I'm grasping at straws, but I can't help thinking it's another step forward, even if a small one.

So today I went downtown to the Rundel Building to use the NYS Vital Records index on microfiche. I wanted to see if I could find entries for the deaths of John S. McCormick (d. 1948), Thomas C. McCormick (d. 1905) and Margaret McCormick (d. 1927). I found entries for Margaret and John, as expected, but did not find Thomas listed among the 1905 deaths, which threw me. Two more records requests, which may or may not help, but another small step forward.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Family Timeline

Original post at: Genea-Musings: Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - a Family TimelineThis is my first time participating in Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, and I found this an interesting exercise. First the basics:

1. My genealogy software is Reunion (v.9.0b) and I created this timeline using the standard timeline report and made some very minor edits. The edits I made were mostly with the colors. The timeline default report was generated with each individual marked as a different color. Since the men and women are already distinguished from each other by the shapes of their bars (men are rectangles, women are rounded rectangles), I changed the colors to designate family lines. Reunion allowed me to save this chart as a JPEG. I then pulled it into Photoshop to crop the excess white space.

2. The timeline (sorted by birth date) shows my paternal grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great grandparents. My grandfather and his line are green, while my grandmother and her line are yellow.

My grandfather was born in 1917, when his mother was 41 and father 44 years old. In 1917, his two older siblings (born 1901 and 1904) were already in their teens. So I was curious to see what visualizing the generations would look like, knowing that he was born to older parents. I put in my grandmother's line in as a comparison to see how the generations of her family were compare to his. Looking at the timeline, Ann's parents, are noticeably younger than Richard's, by a good 10-15 years. And the age differences between their grandparents (my great-great grandparents) spans another 10-15-20 years.

So what does this mean to me? When I think about my family generationally, I tend to assume similar life experiences in terms of culture and politics of the day, but in looking at ranges of years they actually lived, with 10-20 year spans in difference, I wonder to what extent their life experiences (in terms of politics and outside influences) might have varied more than I image.

* Disclaimer: I haven't yet proven (or disproven) that Thomas and Margaret McCormick are John S. McCormick's parents, but for comparison (and out of curiosity) thought I'd put them in.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Occam's Razor, or Not Overthinking File Harmonization

Thanks to Kelly at Family History Fun: A light bulb moment!

People who know me know that I have a tendency to overthink things. I also love playing with data, so while I've known for a while that I need to harmonize the records I have on Ancestry.com with my regular family tree data (in Reunion), I haven't thought of an elegant way to do it. I started imagining scenarios of trying to merge data and people using various incarnations of GEDCOM files when I happened to see this post [Family History Fun: A light bulb moment!] today. This is a simple and probably workable solution for me (I think).

Most of the work I've done in Ancestry is on my direct ancestors (on either side), rather than on the many extensive lateral connections I have documented in Reunion. I'm thinking that if I methodically work my way through the generations I have a fighting chance of recording the Ancestry records in Reunion, saving copies as I go along. (I have little space for extensive paper files, so would prefer to go paperless when possible.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cataloging Futures = Cataloging Past

I saw this post from Cataloging Futures in my Google Reader today, where Michael Gorman, Janet Swan Hill and Arlene Taylor talk about living through rule changes in cataloging past. I studied cataloging with Arlene Taylor (more than 10 and less than 15 years ago), and this stream transported me back to grad school at Pitt. As I start thinking about how to wrap my head around RDA and subsequently train my staff, I can see myself returning to these streams for inspiration!