Archive for the ‘Genealogy’ Category
Little Girl, back when she was a Little Girl.
Little Girl said something important today.
Little Girl isn’t so little these days … she’s home from college now, and working at a day care business here in Santa Clarita. She’s now in charge of the kindergarten; a promotion she recently earned. My Little Girl is doing very well these days.
Her kindergarteners don’t call her Little Girl, but I do. And I always will.
In her room at the day care, she decorates the walls with a variety of stuff. She’s got a “me display” that includes pictures of her family. There’s a picture of her niece, Payton, among others.
Little Girl relayed a conversation she had with a kindergartener in her charge, and it brought a smile to my face. Twice.
Kindergartener: Who’s that?
My Little Girl: That’s my boyfriend, Eric.
Kindergartener: You’re not married?
My Little Girl: No, we’re not married.
Kindergartener: But you have a baby? You can’t have a baby if you’re not married.
My Little Girl: No, that’s not my baby. That’s Payton, she’s my niece. She’s my brother’s baby.
Kindergartener: Oh…. You have a brother?
My Little Girl: I have two brothers and two sisters.
Kindergartener: You have two brothers and two sisters?!!??
My Little Girl: Well, my two brothers are both married. And their wives are my sisters-in-law. They are my sisters.
OK, so I love this Kindergartener. Can’t have a baby if you’re not married? Love it.
The big idea here, though, is Little Girl describing her relationship with her sisters-in-law. They are sisters.
They were all 3 in the weddings for the 2 that are married, and I’m sure that Lauren will have her sisters in her wedding (whenever that might happen).
Isn’t that the way that it should be?
Here’s Little Girl … the blonde! … and her two sisters. That’s the very important mother of my Granddaughter on the left, and MrsMowry on the right. 2006.
A database of Missouri’s original land purchasers is now available online. Land purchases are shown from 1831 – 1969. This land was originally donated to the state by the federal government, with the proviso that it be sold to settlers for $1.25 per acre. Profits from the sales went to the state.
Noah Mast, my Great Great Great Grand Uncle (!) was one of those purchasers … in 1850 he bought 195 acres in Nodaway County for the princely sum of $244. This easy to use database is available here. You can order a copy of any land patents for a dollar and a self-addressed envelope with each request.
This picture of Noah is one of the oldest in our family collection; it’s from a tintype. Tintypes were commonly used circa 1860-1880.
Noah Mast, 1812 – 1897, gentleman farmer and owner of a comb later in life.
Yesterday, I wrote about how people become citizens today.
My newly found cousin, Robyn, reminded me that our ancestor took a somewhat different route to citizenship.
Phillip Patterson Shull, our Great Great Grandfather, served in the 37th North Carolina Company E, Lane’s Brigade, Wilcox Division, Army of North Virginia, under Generals Robert E Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
Yes, my Great Great Grandfather – known by his family as “PP” Shull – was a member of the Confederate Army. He enlisted at the age of 19, and served 1861 – 1865 as a private. We don’t know much about his service, but we do know that he was captured in 1865, and became a prisoner of war.
On May 29, 1865, President Andrew Johnson signed an executive order for amnesty for the POWs who would take an oath of allegiance.
This is the script for the Oath required of POWs that desired their freedom. My mother still has the original, nearly 150 years later.
On June 20th, Phillip P Shull took that oath. We have no evidence that our ancestor ever owned slaves, but with this oath, he swore that he would not own slaves in the future.
On August 16, 1865, Phillip again swore his allegiance to the United States of America, and this was confirmed by three signatories in Watauga County, North Carolina.
As a fine upstanding citizen of the United States of America, Phillip left North Carolina and moved to Skidmore, MO. He eventually married Martha Ellen Mast, and they raised 8 children.
Here’s the Shull family reunion, circa 1920. There are 3 generations in this photo. My grandfather, whom I’m named for, is in the front row, 2nd from the right: Lee Shull. My Great Grandfather, Artemus Shull, is seated, 3rd from the right. PP Shull, my Great Great Grandfather and former confederate soldier, is seated, wearing a hat, 5th from the right. His wife, my Great Great Grandmother Martha Ellen Mast Shull, is standing behind him, 4th from the right.
Becoming A Citizen
My Great Great Grandfather Baugher wore a chain on his vest, with his retractable brass toothpick attached. It’s a scary looking thing. The toothpick, I mean.
This painting was done by my Great Great Aunt Alma Shull Parsons, and was given to my Mother and Father as a wedding present. It’ll never hang in a museum, but what a treasure!
The last time I visited Mom, we agreed that my next visit would include a session where we identified family heirlooms. Mom would tell the story. Sis would write the description. I’d take a picture, and then I’d combine those elements into one document. That way, we would always know what’s what, and what belonged to whom.
Simple, yes? Not really. You’ve got to find the time. I live 1,800 miles away. Sis is 200 miles away. Not. Simple.
At long last, the planets had aligned and we were ready. Mom proceeded to trot out a diverse lot of, uh, stuff. Let me be clear that we’re not talking about items with a high dollar value. We are talking about stuff that had been handed down from previous generations … like a brass toothpick owned by my Great Great Grandfather. Things that no one outside of my family would ever care about! But, oh my, what stuff Mom has!
I was amazed at how much I learned. You see, I’ve sat around Mom’s dinner table and talked about our ancestors. She’s got books and books and 3-ring notebooks of pictures and written records and birth certificates and service records and … STUFF … that we have discussed for hours.
We’ve got the family pictures and family tree documentation pretty well in hand (I hope).
Now, however, we’re learning about physical objects that rarely see the light of day … and now our entire family gets to know their story!
Pictures of my two favorite items are below. As you can see, it’s not about the monetary value, it’s about the family stories. The only way for you to capture those — the ONLY way — is to talk to your family members about what they know while you still have access to them. You never know when you’ll move away, or they’ll move away, or tragedy will strike and communication just won’t be possible anymore.
Find the opportunity to talk to your family members about what they know. You’ll find that the old stuff that’s lying around just might take on a whole new meaning for you when you know the history of each item!
Pocket watch? Not from my family!
This collapsible pocket shot glass was handed down, but we don’t know who owned it originally. Alas … but it sure does illuminate a fun heritage!
This graphic of a guardian angel (sorry for the poor photograph!) hung in the home of my Great Grandparents, James Woods and Matilda Rebecca Swartz Decker. It now hangs in Mom’s home.
Knowing Velda’s love of angels, Mom made this counted cross stitch of a Guardian Angel for Velda years ago, and it’s hung in our home since. I didn’t understand it was the same image as the one that hung in my Great Grandparents’ home until Mom told me last week!
This photo is of my Grandmother Baugher’s Aunt & Uncle. Don’t know exactly who they might be. The photo was probably taken in Nodaway County, Missouri, in the early 20th century.
We now get some historical perspective on how my ancestors believed a yard should be treated. If you read Get Off My Lawn! a few days ago, you know this is a current subject near and dear to my heart. If you didn’t read that article, you can do so now.
See how the couple tended their yard, I mean garden? And by tending, I mean how they let it grow. A couple of more years, and they won’t be able to get in the front door. They’ve already anticipated that, so they’ve moved their living room furniture out into the yard.
And I thought yard care was difficult. Thanks, Aunt & Unc, now I know how easy it can be!
In all of the photos I’ve collected in my genealogical travels, this one is the strangest. John Mowry and Isaac Bond are the names of the builders … but what is it? Where is it? Why is it?
I just checked: my genealogy folder has 13,831 files in it. Most of these are photo scans, but some are also document scans, the page layouts and .pdf files for the family photo scrapbooks that I’ve compiled and even audio files. By the time I’m done with the Hepler book later this month, I’ll have 14,000 genealogy files.
And those match the 33,624 names in my family tree file. Well, some of them, anyway.
Label your photos — with a proper pen that has ink that will dry on photo paper — or your backup band may never be identified.
And then there are the 35,415 photographic files that are everything from work photos to vacation snaps to family shots to … well, my photographic life. My photographic files go back to 2004, when we said good bye to film. And don’t get me started on the 3-ring binders of prints & even slides that need scanning. Velda already has that on my worklist.
So you see the problem, right? Thousands and thousands of files, and you need to know where they all are. And this is the story of how I failed.
I was working on the Chucalo family photo scrapbook. Velda and I had flown back to St Louis several times, visiting cousins and scanning photos with multiple families. On a good day, I was gathering 100+ files. Do that for several days in a row … and you don’t know which file is which if you aren’t careful. We had files that were named, files that were unnamed, file folders crammed with original photographs, photo prints, obituaries, random notes, plane tickets and rental car agreements. It was chaos.
If photos have names written on the back, you can scan that photo back directly to both save the best record of the photo, and move on quickly to other scans. Just make sure you name the photo back scan the same as the photo front!
And we work for a living. Velda and I were doing these trips on vacations. We would fly back home — tired from our vacation — and go right back to work. Work being what it is, I was behind, and couldn’t devote much time to the photo processing for some time … when I would have to decipher all of those cryptic handwritten notes.
Which I always did perfectly, of course.
After I had processed the photographs, composed the scrapbook pages and updated the family tree files, I created rough draft .pdfs that I then sent back to the relatives for approval. This was essential; it was my proofing double check. But come to find out, this only works when you know which file you’re sending.
I was paranoid about losing data, so I was constantly making backups. I had the work files on my laptop’s desktop. I would then copy them every few hours to the “real” folder location on the c:/ drive, and then duplicate them onto a portable hard drive at that same time. And that worked great, until I didn’t copy the right file to the right back-up.
I had gotten an edit to the page for one of my favorite cousin’s pages. I had gotten his name wrong: Robert Eugene instead of Robert Gene. It was an understandable mistake, perhaps: Robert Eugene is my father’s name. In any event, I had it wrong, got the correction, fixed the page, then copied the wrong file into the backup, and never caught the mistake. I published the book with the wrong name for my cousin. The wrong name. How do you fix that?
Learn from my mistake:
1. Have one location for work files.
2. Have one location for backups. (And ALWAYS keep a backup.)
3. Don’t mix them up.
4. Have a method for checking important edits. Keep a file of requested edits, and then check them to make sure they’re done. And then check them again.
It’s only when your pictures are properly labeled that your descendants can be sure which picture is of you.
Marguerite Clark Hepler
Harry Baptiste Hepler, AKA Shorty. 1978.
This is the story of my wife’s maternal Grandfather. The picture of him, left, was taken at our wedding.
Harry Baptiste Hepler, AKA Shorty, had a tough life. He buried two wives. He had to split his family during the Great Depression, go to a new state to find work, and then finally reunited his family years later.
Harry was born in 1901, the youngest child of Abraham and Harriet “Hattie” Hepler. He married Marguerite Clark on March 4, 1920: he was 18, and she was 22. Their eldest child, Frances Elaine, was born on July 22, 1921. More children followed: Robert Carlyle in 1923, Harry Paul in 1924, Lyle De Forest in 1926, and then the twins, Anna Marie and Mary Marguerite followed on March 4, 1930.
Tragedy struck. Marguerite did not recover from the rigors of childbirth, and died one week later, on March 11, 1930.
Harry had worked as a mine foreman in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, which has many bituminous coal mines spread throughout the county. With the Depression taking hold across the country, however, he found himself 28 years old, widowed, with 6 kids under the age of 10 and needing to find work.
The 1930 US Census was taken on April 1, 1930, and found Harry and his 6 kids living with his mother, Harriet “Hattie” Girard Hepler Johnson and her new husband, Swedish immigrant Augustaurus “Gus” Johnson. Harry made the difficult decision to relocate his family to St Louis, MO – but Grandmother Hepler insisted that he leave the babies with her.
Mary and Anna Hepler lived with their Grandmother until they were 12, and then moved to St Louis to live with their father, step-mother, and 3 older brothers that they had only met once, 6 years earlier.
Harry gathered up his 4 oldest children, ages 4 – 9, and took the train to St Louis. He did find construction work, and he found his second wife, Ruby Uncapher. Tragedy struck again, however, and Ruby died in 1934 of cervical cancer.
In 1936, Grandmother Hattie gathered the twins and traveled to St Louis to introduce them for the first time to their father. Mary remembers the train ride, and remembers meeting her father, oldest sister and 3 brothers, who were all living with Harry’s future third wife, Lucille O’Day and her daughter, Carmen Werre. Anna, Mary and Harriet returned to Pennsylvania. (Side note: in their elementary school classroom in Corry, PA, Anna and Mary were 1 of 3 sets of twins!)
Harry Paul, Lyle DeForest and Robert Carlyle Hepler.
The 1940 US Census has Lucille and Carmen living in St Louis, with Harry listed as their boarder. Frances Elaine Hepler had married Henry Eller, Jr in 1939, and they were living with their firstborn Donald Gene at the time of the 1940 census.
Interestingly, Harry’s 3 sons, ages 13-17 at the time of the census, are not shown as living with a family member. Harry Paul’s descendants heard legends that their father lived in an orphanage for a time. I found a 13-year old Lyle “Heppler” living as a lodger in St Louis with Christian and Agatha Goechri. This Lyle was born in Pennsylvania, so he might be our Lyle DeForest Hepler. I have not yet found Robert Carlyle in the 1940 census.
Grandmother Hattie fell ill in 1942, so she sent the 12-year-old twins west to live with the family that they had only met once 6 years earlier.
With his family reunited, Harry finally found a good job with the St Louis Water Department in 1943. He continued to work there 22 years, until his retirement.
I’m nearing the end. I started working on the Hepler family photo scrapbook in March 2011, and it will be finished in the next few weeks. The book has grown to just over 200 pages of photos, history and genealogy information. This book is focused on the family of Harry Baptiste Hepler: his 6 children, his 25 grandchildren, and their descendants.
I enjoy putting together the covers of the book. For this family history (and it’s the 4th that I’ve compiled), I assembled 2 covers. The first one is focused on the first couple of generations, and the 2nd cover is focused on the younger generations.
In the case of this branch of the family, no one member will know everyone pictured. Reacting to that fact became one of my goals: to illustrate the breadth of the family immediately. An essential third page is a key to the photographs, so that the family can begin to associate names with faces!
Creating a Family Photo Scrapbook
Digitizing Family Photos
Treasuring Family Photos
Your Family Tree
This Civil War-era tintype photograph is one of the earliest photos in our collection … and the original tintype is slowly fading to black. Luckily, we could capture the original digitally and enhance the photo.
Piles of photos. Shelves full of albums. And what are all of those photos doing? Fading.
Color prints made before 1990 can fade in just a few decades. Later prints last longer … but they will always fade. Put them in a bad environment … on sticky pages, in sunlight, stored in the attic or the garage … and the photos go away much quicker. Here’s how the National Archives explains the problem.
There are 2 real solutions: store the photos in a better way, which will slow — not halt — the photographic decay. That leaves the only real solution: digitize the photos, color correct them as necessary, and then store those digitized files redundantly.
You’ll need a flat bed scanner and a digital camera. I found that Epson scanners suited me the best; I used a 4490 for many of my scans — I actually bought 3 of them! Since my family was in the Missouri/Illinois area, I kept one scanner at my mother’s house (and then another at my in-law’s house). When my office unit had scanned its last photo, I switched to a V700. Both were great. I used the included software, which was perfectly adequate for me. I investigated the highly recommended pro software, SilverFast SE, and decided it wasn’t worth the cost. For me; your mileage may vary.
You’ll need a digital camera for a couple of reasons: you’ll want to take pictures of your relatives when you visit them, and you’ll have to shoot the pictures that are larger than your flat bed scanner. I started with a simple Sony point & shoot which wasn’t adequate for archive quality shots, IMHO. I soon upgraded to a Nikon D90, and then a D7000. I used a tripod for pictures when I could. With long distance travel to relative’s homes, I definitely had to travel heavy.
The Epson V700 is a newer model, and produces great scans of negatives, color slides, or printed photographs.
I did very high resolution scanning. Probably too high, honestly, but I was dealing with family heirloom photos; I’m certain I’ll never see many of the originals again. So, I had one scan to get it right. Higher resolution scans capture more detail. You can’t make a low res scan more detailed. You can always downgrade a high res scan to a lower resolution, smaller file.
After editing by this enthusiastic amateur, the scan became much brighter and clearer. The photo could have been cleaned up more … but don’t the marks and “noise” in the photo add to its authenticity?
Files were made using a minimum of 600 dpi (dots per inch) … which means I could blow up the picture on the printed page, if that’s what I chose to do. I generally scanned any 5×7 or smaller at 600 dpi, and 8x10s at 300 dpi (as I wasn’t going to enlarge them). Laser printers often print at 300 dpi, so if I had a 8×10 scanned at 300 dpi, I could print that as a full 8-1/2 x 11″ page with minimal loss of quality.
Files were saved as .tif files. I did not use .bmp or the more common .jpg format. It’s really simple: you can edit .tif files without a loss of quality. When you edit the other formats, you lose quality every time you re-save the file. So, when you can avoid a .jpg, avoid it. Simple.
When I was scanning in someone’s home, I was often scanning 100 or more photos in a single session. With that kind of volume, you need to label the scans immediately, or you’ll never correctly identify all of the kids & adults in the photo. I did this 2 ways: 1) large group photos got a key identifying every person in the photo. Sometimes I scanned the back of the photo if it was labeled well. Other times, I would print the photo and then write directly on the print with the names of the people. In every case, I named the photo for easy referral, using this sort of format:
Mowry, Henry, 2006
Mowry, Henry, blue shirt
Mowry Family, Henry, 2010
Mowry Wedding, Christopher and Alley, kiss
Xmas 2006, tree
This Lance family snapshot – as originally scanned – is one of my favorite pictures in the collection. It’s SO 1976! On the other hand, this photo is heavily water damaged and discolored. I spent several hours with editing software to restore the picture as best I could to original coloration.
It doesn’t really matter how you label the pictures, but they need to be labeled immediately, or you will misidentify people when you process the photos. Come up with conventions, and stick to them. In advance, figure out how you’re going to deal with maiden names, changing last names, group shots … and what kind of file structure the photos will be saved in. By date? Family? Location? No wrong answers, but get an opinion, and stick to it.
You’ll also find there are several programs made to help you organize your photo collection. Photoshop Elements is a relatively inexpensive solution; Adobe Lightroom is a more robust, expensive solution. I prefer Lightroom. It lets you tag/sort photos in multiple ways. It automatically saves photos to multiple locations when you upload from the camera … it’s a great tool.
You’ll need photo editing software as well. There’s a huge array of options here … but always save the original scan as is. Some software will save versions for you as you edit the photos; I typically added “v2,” “v3,” etc to file names in the early days. Later, I took to adding “RT” to scans that were retouched. Again, no wrong answers here, but save your original scans, and save your work as you go, and you’ll not get yourself into trouble.
I principally used 2 editing programs: Photoshop Elements (the home version) and Adobe Photoshop (just like the professionals use). Photoshop is amazing software, and you’ll need to devote many hours to learning how to best use it. Elements is very intuitive … it’s really point & click easy. Both can work. How much time do you want to devote to photo editing? It you just want to crop photos and straighten crooked scans, get Elements. If you want to do some exacting work, get the full Photoshop.
My father, Robert Mowry, shot by a photographer in his studio in Maryville, MO.
For photographs I shoot, I generally use Nikon’s Capture NX2. This software handles RAW files (better cameras allow you to use this unprocessed, uncompressed file type that varies by camera), and allows some pretty amazing and quick edits. Not as robust as Photoshop, but easier and quicker, I’ve found. NX2 also edits .jpg files, but as discussed earlier, the results are not as good, since photo quality is lost each time you save a .jpg file.
My mother, Letha Shull, shot by that same photographer with that same white table. Who knew these two pictures would be united in one family years later?
Once you have the files, you need redundant backups to make sure that you don’t lose these heirlooms that you’ve worked so hard to scan, edit and store. Keep files on your computer’s hard drive … and then make a copy on an external hard drive. Be very good and make a third copy which is kept offsite, either in the cloud or at a relative’s house. Some people keep a backup hard drive at the office in a desk drawer. Go old school: keep it in your safety deposit box. Use an online service for backups such as Norton (expensive) or Carbonite (which I recommend).
I know one thing about the computer that holds your photo collection: it will die. I don’t know when, but I do know that all machines will die. Therefore, plan beginning TODAY for the failure of the primary storage device for your photos. After all, where can you get another copy of that perfect family photo?