Thursday, September 29, 2011

Some Photos From FGS

Here are some photos taken in the vendor hall at FGS (Federation of Genealogical Societies) conference in Springfield, Illinois September 2011

And that was just the Vendor Hall....and for that matter, only part of it.....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Eugene Auguste Duchamp De Chastaigne and his wife Marie Amelie Sandoz daughter of David Francois Sandoz (the second)
Eugene and Amelie owned La Maison Duchamp.
The house was designed and built for them by Amelie's father David F. Sandoz.
Eugene and Amelie were my second great grandparents (in other words my great great grandmother and great great grandfather)

My 2nd great grandmother Marie Amelie Sandoz
My 2nd great grandfather Eugene Duchamp De Chastaigne

Closer up
La Maison Duchamp: A view from the front

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blogger Showcase: Thomas MacEntee

I confess. I have a little bit of hero worship going on. I have a few (less than a dozen) professional genealogists who absolutely rock my world. I happen to think they are wonderful. I aspire to be just like them when I grow up...but with my own twisted style of course.
That is not to take anything away from all the really fine professional genealogists out there....just that these select few have some sort of je ne sais quoi. A star quality least for me.

Today's blogger showcase features one of those (In my book) super stars.
My Hero and who I want to be when I grow up....

Thomas MacEntee
Thomas MacEntee at Southern California Genealogical Jamboree 2011

Thomas has so much energy, is mega smart and has a wicked sense of humor.

He is a fabulous teacher; very patient and skillful in explaining how things in the techie world work. Every lecture I attend where he is the speaker...I take away something new.

He produces amazing webinars and a great radio show.

He has organized Geneabloggers and made it into a "powerhouse" of bloggers. He has inspired so many others to become bloggers and to journal their research.

Check out his blog here and his web site Hi-Definition Genealogy here. Trust me you will learn a lot from Thomas...and enjoy the ride.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Genealogy Goals

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a dance teacher when I grew up...

Age 3 First Dance Class

or an Indian Chief....Well, at age 13 I was able to realize that dream.

I became an Indian Chief...

Dance Recital age 5
Christmas Card 1968 age 11

I'm kidding, of course.

However, I did become a dance instructor. I had been dancing since I was three years old. Ten years of study and I was able to teach. I taught dance until I was about 35 years old. At the same time I worked as a dental assistant, I did that for 20 years. Then I changed careers.

Dance Instructor age 23
For the next 10 years or so I worked in the world of Public Relations.

Then I changed careers again. Guess I just couldn't decide what I wanted to be when I grew up.

This time (at age 40) I decided I wanted to be a professional genealogist.

I've been working on that goal for about 10 years now with some ebb and flow to my enthusiasm. I confess, my desire to work genealogy as a profession sometimes wanes. If I work for others will I have anytime for my own?

But I always seem to come back to the adage; if you do something you love as your profession, every day is like you're not working at all. That's what keeps me on the track of becoming a professional.

Not to long ago I heard the phrase "transitional genealogist." I like that phrase. That's what I am...even though I occasionally take on clients. I consider myself a transitional genealogist for a number of reasons. One reason is because I learn something new with each client. Another is because the world of "professional genealogist" keeps changing and in my opinion improving. New definitions of what a professional is keep emerging. I like that, because that means ours is a growing and thriving occupation, one that is willing to embrace the changes in our culture and society and adapt with the times; much like the buggy makers of the early 20th century that embraced that newfangled contraption the horseless carriage.

The most important reason, I think, that I consider myself a "transitional genealogist" is because I am in a transitional stage. I am moving toward holding myself to a higher standard. I want my work to show that I have moved beyond the name gathering stage. I want others to see my research as "exemplary" and to that end I need to transition into a better researcher.

I am a perfectionist, and while I know that one can never truly be perfect, I feel that my work can at least attempt to be the best I can make it.

What am I doing to make my work ease up to a higher caliber? I go to the national conferences, for one thing. In fact I am a self proclaimed "conference junkie." The classes help remind me that there is more to learn. The professionals help remind me what I hope to be like "when I grow up." Conferences also keep adding kindling to the flame of passion for genealogy that keeps me motivated.

I also am taking some week long "intensive" classes. This year I am enrolled at Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) and as soon as they open the applications I will be enrolling at the Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University in Alabama (IGHR). Both of these "institutes" are valuable learning experiences. (I've attended SLIG once before and I have attended IGHR twice before)

I have also just enrolled in the National Genealogical Society's Home Study Course.

Why do I do all this? One day I hope to apply for my certification or my accreditation (leaning towards certification...but, we'll see) and the perfectionist in me wants to be well prepared. When I turn in that portfolio or take that test I want to know (even without anyone else telling me so) that I have moved beyond that transition and have reached the level I feel professionals should work at.

There are a lot of professionals out there working without the benefit of CG or AG after their names. In my opinion if they are working at a "professional level" and their clients are satisfied with their work, then "more power to them." One does not HAVE TO HAVE a CG or an AG after their names to move beyond the "hobbiest" stage and enter into the world of "professional." But I feel...for me...that to have a CG or AG after my name gives a re-assurance to my would be client, and gives me a "measuring stick" to say I have met a certain standard.

So that is my goal. In this lifetime. It won't happen overnight, too much to learn, too much confidence to build. But it will happen. Either that or I will become an Indian Chief.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

FHC and Me

The Family History Center and Me

All over the country and in many foreign countries you will find a Family History Center (sometimes known as a FamilySearch Center) owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons.) They are wonderful resource for genealogists. And don’t worry they won’t try to convert you or preach to you…this is a research area.

I began volunteering at my local Family History Center somewhere around 2000. At that time I was living in Galt, Ca just 12 miles from the Lodi, California Family History Center (FHC). I volunteered there for about two years. Then I took a few years off to concentrate on other things. I have recently (2010) begun working as a volunteer at the Sacramento Regional Family History Center (the large regional FHC for the Northern California area) since I now live in the Sacramento area about 2 miles away from this wonderful facility.

Did I mention that the FHC is probably one of the greatest resources for genealogists and you should be utilizing it. There are more than 4,500 Family History Centers worldwide (in more than 132 countries.) There are 13 Regional Centers worldwide (I am lucky enough to work in one of them.)  They are in most major cities and a few small towns too. There is probably one near you. Go to FamilySearch to find the FHC nearest you. (At the top of the page you will see the words “FamilySearch Centers” click on it and type in your location.)

Let me tell you why you should be visiting your local Family History Center. Most of them are libraries. Often that means books. Since my FHC is located in Sacramento, CA you would assume that we have books on Sacramento, California and the Gold Rush, and you would be right. But there is so much more in our stacks. We have copies of the newsletters/publications produced by the local genealogical societies (even those of some now defunct organizations). Often in these publications you can find family trees, stories and histories relevant to the area and the people who lived there. (So if you are in Iowa the genealogical publications in your local FHC will pertain to Iowa families)

We also have copies of early records like “Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area” and “California Pioneer Register 1542-1848” and Spanish-Mexican Families of Early California: 1769-1850” just to name a few. In this day of “digital” everything, it is just a matter of time before our libraries are all digital too, even I have gone to the e-book (I now own a Nook…I know …the non-techie is going full throttle techie.) But for now we can still make use of the paper versions.

In addition to local society newsletters and collections you will often find society newsletters and books from other areas as well. We have a wonderful collection of society newsletters, as well as compulations and reference books from all over the U. S.

You might be aware that most of the 1890 Federal Census burned, well if you are researching someone who lived in 1890 in California you might just be in luck if you know to come to the FHC and look at the “California 1890 Great Register of Voters Index.”

History type books are not the only great find at a FHC; there are also books available on how to do genealogy. “How to” type books include, “The Handy Book for Genealogists,” “The Source,” “The Red Book,” “Evidence Explained,” “The Everything Family Tree Book,” and so much more. 

Not all of the FHCs have books…some very small ones located in very small towns may be little more than a couple of computers and a microfilm reader or two. But those computers will allow you to view the entire card catalog of not only the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah but other libraries as well, such as the Allen County Library (another Meca for genealogists,) and the Godfrey Memorial Library. For that matter, you can view any library’s holdings in any library via World Cat. (A library index.) And those microfilm readers can bring marriage records, wills, probates, church records and so many other sources to you through the magic of "film loan" provided by the Family History Library. 

Please remember that this is a library and treat it as such and honor the usual “library rules.” Remember to not talk loudly, use hushed whispers, or your quiet indoor voice; no food or drinks, no taking home the books…this is not a “lending library,” and try to remember that the staff is there to assist you…not make your search harder and not to do your work for you. And while most of us love to hear about your research and your successes…we really need to help all the patrons and probably should save the details of the last 20 years of research for another “off duty” time. And remember the FHC is housed in the LDS church…please watch you language.

Ok, I hear you saying, “That’s great about California and your wonderful Sacramento Family History Center….but what about me…I live in Walla Walla, Washington or Quincy, Illinois, or Drain, Oregon or ……(you fill in the blank) WHAT DO YOU HAVE FOR ME?

Well, since I don’t work in your center, I’m not familiar with what books are there or even if your center has books….each of the centers is different. Often the libraries are supplied by donations. If a genealogist retires or passes on their collection of research materials is often donated to the local center. What that means to you is that even though your center is in Quincy, Illinois you might find books there about Kentucky or Maryland or California. At my center we have books from all over the country. Every state is represented by some book or another. Is our collection “complete?” Does your center have the very book you have been looking for? Will you find everything you could possibly want?” No, of course not, but I guarantee you will find something of use.

Probably the most compelling reason for visiting your local center is the fact that the Family History Library (the big MaMa Library in Salt Lake City, Utah that all of the FH Centers are little mini versions of) has an agreement with many subscription sites like  At the centers you can access these web sites (some of them …very expensive) without having to subscribe. The Family History Library has done that for you. So you can go to your local FHC and access, Heritage Quest, Fold3, the Godfrey Memorial Library and World Vital Records….just to name a few. That’s right…FOR FREE, you read that right…FOR FREE…you can go to these sites WITHOUT COST…FOR FREE.

Check on FamilySearch for the center near you and their operation times (when they are open) and get to it….your family awaits.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Not So Wordless Wednesday

This picture is of my adopted father, Tech. Sgt. Max Thomas von Aspern. It is an oil painting of a photo taken of him in 1964 upon his retirement from the U. S. Air Force. 
Dad joined the Army Air Corp circa 1943.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blogger Showcase: Dear Myrtle

I would like to introduce you to a dear friend of mine and a fellow blogger. Pat Richley-Erickson is known by the genealogy world as Dear Myrtle. (Dear Myrt for short) Dear Myrt has been writing about genealogy for a very long time...she started when she was 2...I'm sure of it because she can't be a day over 22 now. :)

I was reading a Dear Myrtle newspaper column when I first started working on my genealogy and it helped immensely. Myrt is still helping genealogists; newbies and those that have been at it for a while. Check  out her blog here:  Dear Myrtle's blog.

I'm sure you will find her to be a wonderful writer and someone you will want to follow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Not So Wordless Wednesday

Inside La Maison Duchamp
This is the "town house" (the home they used in town as opposed to their plantation home) of my 2nd Great Grandfather Eugene Duchamp De Chaistaigne and his wife Marie Amelie Sandoz. The home was built by her father David Francois Sandoz. 
Read more about it here and here

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday

During the Southern California Genealogical Society's Genealogical Jamboree (aka Jamboree) Grant and I stayed in our motor home. In Burbank you can park an RV on the street for 3 days for about $5. Wow. But, that wasn't the best part...

There weren't a lot of parking spots near the Jamboree but Grant managed to find one and right down the road from a cemetery.

Now my husband is not into cemeteries but he loves me, and he knows I LOVE CEMETERIES. So he was quite proud of himself for finding this IDEAL parking spot.

However, this cemetery even caught his interest. You see, there was this big stone gazebo. It was carved in an art deco style and was just gorgeous.

So after the Jamboree we had to drive into the cemetery and take a closer look and see what this huge monument was for. Come with me and take a look.

Aviation Memorial

As we got closer.......

We discovered that this was a monument to Aviators, built in 1924.

Just a few of the tombstones found inside the Monument.

This wonderful Monument to early Aviators was located at Valhalla Cemetery in Burbank, California.
It is well worth the visit.