Friday, August 12, 2011

Hoeing on the Last Row

Hoeing on the Last Row.
J. Mark Lowe

So many times when working on an extended family project, my mind gets tired and tends to wander just prior to finishing the project. Evidently, this is a normal reaction for many of us. My sister-in-law, Connie, told me years ago, that the last row of tobacco was the hardest to hoe. She explained that being that close to the finish line, the 'tiredness' kicked in and one thought they just couldn't finish that last row.
Connie' point has always helped me finish that last row. My clothes dryer stopped working, and although I have repaired the same problem before, I thought this time - I might just buy a new dryer. Another good friend said, "If you fixed it before, why not just fix it again." I ordered the parts ($20) and decided I could fix it this morning.
I pulled the dryer away from the wall and removed the back cover. I removed the dryer vent hose and thought - which relay do I replace first. I noticed that the last time I repaired this dryer, I had only replaced the top relay, so I replaced the top one first. I tested the dryer and it worked.
I replaced the back cover and began to reattach the dryer vent hose. It slipped and I thought, "Maybe, I'll just finish this later." I suddenly thought of my sister-in-law, Connie, and her advice - "...the last row of tobacco is the hardest to hoe." I adjusted the vent and dropped to my knees and tightened the clamp and repositioned the dryer. It worked and I completed two loads of clothes and dried them. What does this have to go with genealogy?
Thanks to Michael Hait, I received a Civil War Pension application packet about my Great-Grandmother Clara Martin. The circumstances of the application showed me a side of my Great-Grandmother that I had forgotten. Her last child was born in 1911. She and my GGF James Wyatt Martin had twelve children, ten of whom lived to adulthood. Just before Christmas 1915, James Wyatt Martin, developed a severe case of appendicitis and died. Leaving a 42-year-old widow with ten children. The oldest son had moved to California, the second son had completed his college training and was on his way to be a missionary in India, and the other children were there on the farm. My GGF James Wyatt Martin had also traded livestock and had completed several Federal contracts to supply mules. Here at his death, the family became totally dependent on the farm income for survival. The pension application was an attempt to obtain relief based on Clara's father who was a Civil War soldier, who died when she was a young child. Unfortunately, she was not eligible for the pension and the application was rejected.
Clara Martin and her children made the farm successful. She raised the remaining 8 children and kept the family on the farm, until she sold the farm and moved to the 'city' in 1948. The family still owns the farm. My father told me many stories about his Grandmother or Granny Martin as he called her. He said she could shimmy up the side of the log corn cribs faster than her boys, and she had the finest split rail fences in southern Kentucky. Her boys were tall, lean and hard-working. Her daughters were just as tough and could sew like a fine seamstress. Granny Martin hoed the last row of tobacco.
When that genealogical question gets tough, think about the families you are researching. Remember their story is true and real - what might help me wrap up this question. As Connie says, "The last row of tobacco is the hardest to hoe, but finishing the row is the most rewarding." Good luck in your attempt to keep the story alive.


Here's a photo of Granny Martin and her adult children

Monday, July 25, 2011

Remembering 3.5 disks and Genealogy

J. Mark Lowe

I've been sorting through some old files and drawers - sorting and remembering. Although I've been doing genealogy since the early 1960s, I've been a tech geek almost that long. My Dad bought me a modern manual typewriter after I complained to Santa that the Sears Toy Typewriter he brought me couldn't handle the speed I needed.
I owned a Sinclair and a Tandy TRS-80. Once I was able to purchase a cassette tape recorder and cable, I setup a retrieval database for my genealogy and began to load family group information. You can imagine my excitement when they came out with 8" floppy disks and drives that would allow flexibility and data storage. My this time I also had created a bookkeeping system where daily invoices could be entered while adjusting actual inventory.
Smaller and sturdy drives were being discussed. The community thought that the technology would change the way we did genealogy. Instead of printing and copying all those pages, we could mail a 3.5" floppy disk and the whole family would be included. Of course, this was the discussion with the same folks who sat around with a dial-up of 300bps chatting late at night on Prodigy or Compuserve.
There was a discussion of a technology conference focused on genealogy called GenTech. Excitedly, I looked into the conference and saw they were interested in the new interactive genealogical coursework I was creating using HTML. I was thrilled to present my session in Ft. Wayne and talk with other techies. I remember meeting Alan Mann at that conference. Some of the technology sessions were groundbreakings, while others seemed old. We shared our ideas and occasionally there were a few concepts that were more like dreams. There were lots of genealogical software titles then - but most were very simple databases at best.
One of those nights on Compuserve, I met a great genealogist and fellow nerd who had written a genealogical program called Brother's Keeper. His name was John Steed.
I had gone through several versions before this one was released.

John Steed was a techie and a genealogist. Once I had Brothers' Keeper, I was really to enter data on every Southerner and a few Yankees who might be related to me. One feature which was especially interesting to me was the Calculate Relationship. You could choose any two people in your database and calculate their relationship based on the data entered. Wow.
Whirrrrr-Ding, Whirrrr-Ding - my cell phone vibrates near my desktop computer. As I check Facebook and Google +, I float over to Ancestry to check a census record. Ahhh, let check those Kentucky Death Certificates and I print one out and save a copy to his data area. It's 2011, and we still have John Steed and lots of other great techies - who bring new tools to my table.
I'm reminded of Ecclesiastes 1:9 which ends with "... there is no new thing under the sun." New tools which help us get to records more quickly and without a trip to the repository. Use the tools, but remember that 3.5" disks did not change the story, nor did the USB drive make understanding the relationship of Mom & 2 daughters, who married three brothers any easier to explain. Genealogy will always require a human component - YOU, and your parents, in-laws, & siblings, etc, etc, etc. Do your part by sharing the past and keeping the story alive.
Thanks to John and all of the great innovators that keep genealogical records & data at my fingertips. See you at RootsTech.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Would You Like a New Nametag?

The first Sunday in July is the date of the Annual Martin Family Reunion in Smiths Grove, Kentucky. For the past twenty years, we have worn nametags that show the years of the Reunions we have attended. At our recent gathering, we had a large number of family members. Several of these had not attended in several years.
We always try to handle the registration in the beginning. The nametags were arranged somewhat alphabetically on a large table beside a registration book. This tall young man walked into the hall and said, "I probably don't have a nametag." Since I have been handling the nametags and registration for more than 20 years, I thought I remembered this young man. I said, "Clay, I think I still have your nametag, but you can have a new nametag if you want."
When this young man was a small boy, we were using pin-back nametags. In order not to hurt the kids, I brought peel and stick nametags for them. Clay was beginning to write and I let him write his name on the nametag. When we collected nametags, I placed Clay's on top of a blank nametag and saved it.
It was at that point that I realized that our nametags carry the story of our reunion from year to year. The other day I asked this question: How important are reunions for creating a sense of family to young people? I now realize that family reunions are what created my interest in genealogy. Family reunions have given me the opportunity to know many of my numbered cousins and those removed. Clay will be graduating from High School next year and may not have realized the connection to his Martin family, but someday He will tell his kids - I wrote my name on that nametag before the year 2000.
That is what Family Reunions are about - they are a connection to something that lasts longer than one person. Thanks, Clay, for reminding me of our purpose - Keeping the Story Alive.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Charleston SC backdrop for National Genealogical Society - pt 1

Kathryn Hopkins and Laine Sutherland, two friends from Tennessee, who traveled to Charleston, SC for the NGS Conference

Charleston SC - National Genealogical Society
Visiting Charleston SC was a great opportunity to renew old friendships, learn about new genealogical resources, and rediscover one of America's great cities. Thanks to the National Genealogical Society for scheduling their annual conference in the Holy City. The Convention Center is actually in North Charleston, but the entire region offers so many restaurants, shops and activities - that focusing on genealogy remained difficult.
The pre-Conference activities included the APG roundtable. The Association of Professional Genealogists hosted the event titled “Looking for Clients in all the Right Places.” The panel consisted of Maureen Taylor, known as the Photo Detective, and author of The Last Muster; Marie Varrelman Melchiori CG, CGL, a renowned Military Records Specialist, Kenyatta D. Berry, current Vice President of APG, also active with several high-profile television projects; and me. There is definitely a move in the genealogical community moving towards more technology and communication. I announced my intent to tweet live during my lectures during the conference.
We discussed how we built our respective businesses, marketing techniques, and how we dealt with new clients. The audience certainly brought many great questions to the table including marketing via Facebook, Groupon, and the web. Thanks to Liesa Healy-Miller for serving as Moderator of the Panel and Beverly Rice for Coordinating the Event.
Buzzy Jackson opened the Conference with her unique blend of humor and storytelling reminding all of us to keep the story alive. The Archivist of the US, David Ferriero discussed the 1940 census and the status of our National Archives.
One of the highlights of the week was the re-emergence of Helen F. M. Leary to the National Conference. Helen has inspired so many genealogists throughout the years. Many of her lectures are available from the North Carolina Genealogical Society. She also edited my favorite genealogical reference - North Carolina Research also available from NCGS.
So much happened throughout the week, that I must ponder and prioritize. More later.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Genealogical Travel Trips are Great - Part One

J. Mark Lowe
I'm spending the weekend in Gadsden Alabama for the North East Alabama Genealogical Society Swapmeet to benefit the Nichols Memorial Library. On Thursday, the Library was open late, so I checked into my hotel by the Coosa River and stopped by the Library. There were several folks there researching and many of the great NEAGS volunteers who always make me feel so welcome. As I sat down at a table to begin research, the discussion turned to DNA and before I knew it, we were having an impromptu basic DNA presentation.
Friday morning began with a visit to my cousin, Jimmy Martin. Jimmy is the Grandson of Beckham and Kate Morris Martin of Warren Co KY. We usually visit at the Martin Family Reunion in Smiths Grove KY in July. I've always enjoyed our conversations and when Jimmy heard I was going to be in Gadsden - He invited me over.
Jimmy and his wife, Kris, live just outside Gadsden not too far east of the Coosa River. He gives wonderful directions and I drove right to their home. Jimmy was waiting for me. I am about 20 years older than Jimmy, so my knowledge of his older family members interests him. His Grandfather, Beckham, was one of the best storytellers in the family. Jimmy's Dad, Jimmie, always seemed so much like Uncle Beck and had a big personality himself. This younger Jimmy has that same contagious grin and laughter and seems to have been blessed with the storytelling gift himself.
Thanks to an earlier discussion with Jimmy, I found the pension record I mentioned in my earlier post. I sat down on the sofa and looked through the old pictures Jimmy had layed out. The only thing genealogists like better than old pictures is gravestones. There were many wonderful pictures of the family some old, some new.
In a few minutes, Kris came home. Jimmy asked her about the pictures she had used earlier in the week for a Scout presentation. Kris handed Jimmy an envelope. He pulled out an interesting tintype of an older African-American gentleman. He explained that Kris' parents found it at an antique shop. Unfortunately, there was no identification or even location. He pulled another photograph of a family out of the envelope and handed it to me. The lady in this photograph reminded me of my Lowe Great-Grandmother. When I flipped the picture over, the words on the back said Jim Martin's family. This was a photograph of my Great-Grandfather, Great-Grandmother and their oldest children, including my Grandmother. I had never viewed this photograph before. The resemblance is even more interesting because my Lowe Great-Grandmother and Martin Great-Grandmother were first cousins. I made a photograph of this picture and promised Jimmy to identify all of the children in order.
Kris had brought in some Bar-B-Q from Dad's in Gadsden for our lunch. What a great choice, the three of us had a great visit and discussed their sons - who are wonderful BTW. As we finished our conversation and Bar-B-Q sandwiches, a phone call told them schools were dismissing early because of the approaching storms. I realized I was late for the Library and headed back to Gadsden. Visiting with Kris and Jimmy was just like family visits should be. I felt like was I back in Kentucky visiting with my Martin family and sharing the same stories I heard growing up.
Friday afternoon was filled with one-on-one consultations with patrons of the Nichols Memorial Library before a presentation on my favorite online resources. Heavy rains and winds kept a few people home, but fortunately the major storm bypassed us.
Feeling a bit weary and feel some rest will give me enough energy to share the rest of the weekend, some great genealogical tips, and maybe the picture Jimmy shared. We all worked at Keeping the Story Alive by sharing the stories of our families.
Read Rosemary Jones Hyatt blog for the North East Alabama Genealogical Society.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Even Perfect Genealogists Miss Records

This photograph was taken at Granny Martin's house in Edmonson Co. Kentucky. My Dad, Joseph Wyatt Lowe, is marked with a blue square and the other square is above his Grandmother - Granny Martin - Clara Black Smith Martin.

J. Mark Lowe
Although I don't define myself as a 'Perfect Genealogist,' I do teach across the country sharing my experience as a Professional Researcher. It is only fair to share this new discovery of a record regarding my family, which seems so obvious to me now.
Let's talk about my beginning years. My genealogical search began when I was 7 years old. My family had just left a Martin Family Reunion in Smiths Grove, Kentucky. As soon as we drove away from the reunion, I began asking my Dad about that other Lowe family who attended the reunion - Who are they? How are they related to us?
He explained that they were related to us on the Martin side of our family and the Lowe side of our family. As a 7-year-old this was not clear to me, so I continued to quiz Dad. It was a hot July afternoon and we were packed like sardines in the car, but my Dad made a left turn and then a right turn and then a left turn. He stopped the car and hopped out. I quickly climbed into the seat and hopped out with him. We were in a cemetery.
We stood at the foot of the gravestone of my Dad's Martin grandparents. 'This is my Grandmother. We called her Granny Martin, he name was Clara Smith Martin." He told me other stories about her, and I remembered seeing some pictures of Granny Martin. Next to Granny Martin was buried her husband, James Wyatt Martin. My Dad told me that he was named for his Grandfather Martin (Wyatt) and his Great Grandfather Lowe (Joseph) - he also told me that Papa Martin died about 5 years before he was born. I had heard my Dad tell me many stories about Granny Martin and her family. My Dad was born at Granny Martin's house on the hill in Rocky Hill Station in Edmonson County. (and many that I don't have time to recollect here.)
Going back to the cemetery -->
My Dad pointed to the stones in the next row by his Grandparents. This is Rebecca James Martin, we called her Aunt Jim. She was Granny's sister and married Uncle Mike Martin. In the next row, is Martha Margaret Ann Gilmore Potter Smith Martin. She was Granny's and Aunt Jim's mother and married Uncle John Martin. So you see, a Mom and her two daughters married three brothers.
This 7-year-old needed more information and a genealogist was hatched.
I have so much documentation on Granny Martin and her family, I have original land documents, mortgages, cards, letters, etc. With the beginning of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, a cousin asked me about our Civil War Ancestors. I knew that Granny Martin's father, Moses M. Smith, served in the Union Army. He died when she was a young girl and is buried in Berea Christian Church cemetery in Polkville. However, I had never looked for a pension for Moses M. Smith, since he died a young man and his widow remarried in a reasonable time after his death. I decided to do a search for Moses M. Smith in the new records offered on the Civil War. Within the list of available records there was a listing in "Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934." Suddenly, I realized he had a young daughter living at this time - my GGrandmother Clara Smith. The pension index card indicated an application for a minor was filed in 1883 and the Guardian was F.M. Hardcastle. I knew that Mr. Hardcastle was married to Clara's Mother's sister (Aunt). This Moses M. Smith served in the 52d Kentucky Mounted Infantry.
Remember this index is titled by NARA as "General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. T288" As a good researcher, read the appropriate finding aids and explanations.
I now have a new record to review about my Great-Grandmother Clara Smith Martin and hopefully her father. This is a testament to a regular review of your previous genealogical research. A review may prompt a search in an additional area or encourage further research in a focused area. In honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, is offering free access to these records.
I'm still learning about my family and enjoy sharing the stories my Dad told me along the way. Consider a review of your research, focusing on the Civil War era. Are there additional records that will shed light on your Ancestors? Whatever your choice, tell their stories and keep their story alive. I'm doing my part.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Where Are The Tree Houses?

I was talking with my friend, Jack Wood, with the Jackson-Madison County [Tenn.] library, when he asked this simple question - Where Are the Tree Houses?

We were lamenting the loss of simple activities that promoted creativity and imagination. He remembered how he 'found' lumber in his neighborhood to build his tree house. My experience was much the same. My tree house was in a mulberry tree located on the back property line on a hill. I had inherited the tree from my brother, Denny, who had held the tree as his own for many years. The lowest limb on the mulberry tree was beyond my reach, which kept me at bay. Denny has always loved chocolate, so whenever he had extra money it was spent for candy bars. In an effort to torture his little brother, he would keep his 'treasure' in a brown bag which he suspended high in the air in the mulberry tree. He also created a booby trap with fish hooks on the trunk of the mulberry tree to prevent access.

As a determined adventurer, as soon as he left for school, I began planning. One of the problems with the mulberry tree was its proximity to the sight of Mrs. Frey. Since I was the small, adorable child, she was often concerned that I might be injured and phoned my Mom. This protected me from the normal fighting with my brothers, who were larger, but prevented my attempts at scaling the mulberry tree with tools and ladders.

On this day, I decided that if I dragged a small wooden box under the mulberry tree, I might be able to jump while reaching upward to snag that lowest limb. In our building, I found a empty nail keg, which I thought would be excellent stepping stool. Unfortunately, the ground beneath the mulberry tree was rough and irregular. I steadied the barrel and climbed upon it. 1 - 2 - 3 and jump. I caught the lowest limb and thought I had achieved success. As I worked my way closer to the trunk of the tree, I realized that I missed the line of fish hooks up and down the mulberry tree.
I swung my legs up and around the limb, easing my way toward the bag of candy bars. Ouch! What was that? Ouch! I had been skewered by one of the booby trap fish hooks. Facing defeat, I began to realize how high above the ground I was hanging in pain. Deciding I couldn't jump down, my plan focused on moving to the trunk and shinnying down the trunk to the safe terra firma.

Making it safely to the trunk, wrapping my arms around the trunk, I started sliding down the tree. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Fish Hooks! Reaching the ground with tattered clothing and three fish hooks protruding from my body, I ran with all my might to the house to tell my Mom what Denny had done to me. My screaming must have alarmed Mrs. Frey because my Mom knew exactly what had happened before I arrived. Ok, good and bad memories surround that mulberry tree.

I agreed with Jack that libraries often served as the source of information and discovery for our communities. Woodworkers would review Popular Mechanics or Woodworking magazines for ideas to build. My oldest brother, Joe, learned to build radios and simple electronics from magazines. These early experiences formed a pathway to his career as an Engineer and Systems Analyst.

Early memories and experiences shape our love of history and often form the foundation for our desire to collect and share the stories of our family. As my great-neice and great-nephew were found climbing in the cherry tree in their grandparents' yard, I was reminded of my mulberry tree just down the hill from where they climbed. [They live in the historic house where Mrs. Frey watched out her window.] Dig deep, share your stories, and help those who follow you to create their own special memories. Keep the story alive.

Be sure to record or write down the stories/memories of your family. Document the date, time and location for posterity.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What's the Most Important Task in Genealogy?

Photo of the old railroad depot in Rocky Hill Station, Kentucky.

I recently attended the funeral of a wonderful lady who was aged 99 years and the next day attended a funeral of a high school classmate who was aged 54. One of the lessons I learned from attending these two memorial services was the need to prioritize life.
My calendar is always full of tasks with articles, books, and lectures. What happened to those times when I filled my calendar with driving visits to relatives. Those times when I learned that my Great Aunt Grace loved collecting Avon bottles. [She shared a bottle with me.] I also learned about her family history and wonderful stories of growing up in the Bee Springs community in Kentucky. Or the visits with my Great Aunt Jen where I learned about my Great Grandmother Clara or my Aunt Jen's in-laws.
This past weekend my sister and brother-in-law trekked into Beckton, Kentucky to visit our oldest nephew, Brett, and his wife, Becky. They have recently moved to Kentucky from Texas. After checking out their new home located on the banks of Barren River, they told me about a small family cemetery located across the road. In a moment, we went cemetery hunting. We found a typical burial ground surround by an iron fence. Filled with briers and tall grass, we were able to read a few stones and identify the family. More about this on another day.
After this exciting cemetery visit, we headed to Mammoth Cave National Park for lunch. Brett also loves history and takes every opportunity to pull stories out of me. Our Martin family held many, many reunions in the Old Hotel at Mammoth Cave. [Edmonson County, KY]
They have recently completed a wonderful new Visitors Center at the Cave, which adds even more opportunities for visitors to gain an understanding of this historic place and the people who lived and visited here. If you get a chance to visit, be sure to try the Peach Cobbler with Chaney's Dairy Barn ice cream. Once we had this great lunch including conversation, we walked around on the grounds and enjoyed the beautiful (pre-Spring) day.
As we drove back to Park City from the Cave, my nephew asked me about Rocky Hill [Station] just up the road. I told him that my Dad, his Granddad, was born. The explanation included information about Granny and Papa Martin's farm, and that although the house was now bricked, it was the house where Dad was born. We drove by the house and up the road past where Aunt Jen lived, and where her in-laws lived next door. I also told him that Dad's cousin owns the farm now and lives about 2 miles up the road.
We turn at the crossroad and went through the town of Rocky Hill [Edmonson Co. KY - There is a Rocky Hill in Barren County, too.] We stopped so I could take a picture of the old depot. My nephew is the manager of the natural gas system in the area, so he showed us their work area there.
As we talked, I remembered coming to this town cemetery for a burial. My nephew suggested we drive up this other crossroad by the railroad and see if the cemetery was near. I spotted the Rocky Hill Cemetery with a large sign on our right. We slowly drove through this well-kept cemetery until we began to recognize names. I hopped out of the truck with my nephew right behind me. I walked toward a family surname, and there was the grave of my Great Aunt Jen and Uncle Hubert. More stories followed as we returned to the truck and headed back to the house.
What's the Most Important Task in Genealogy? Sharing the stories and spending time with family. As we share the discoveries we've made in our family history, the people and places in that story come alive for those new 'hearers.'
Keeping the Story Alive is the goal of every family historian. Time to get back to those deadlines.

Monday, February 28, 2011

World War One Veterans Are Gone, But Where Are Their Records?

J. Mark Lowe

Sadly, I read this morning that Frank W. Buckles died yesterday on his farm in West Virginia. Washington Post Article Mr. Buckles was the last living U.S. Veteran of World War I (WW1). It seemed like only a few days ago, that I interviewed several living WW1 Veterans from Tennessee and Kentucky. As I checked my file, the interviews were done in 1998 and 1999, with the 90th Anniversary of the War.
The first-hand accounts of the battles from the perspective of these heroes had often never been discussed with their families. One soldier had his son locate an old box. The man said he hadn't opened this box in years, but wanted to share what was inside. Inside were photographs taken by this soldier. A few of the photographs were of young men excited to be going overseas, but the tone turned dim as they moved to the front. The pictures were somber and dark. They included dead soldiers lying in trenches, other bodies piled in mud and water, and a lifeless landscape.
This man said to me, "I spent all of my life trying to forget those months."
If you have family members from this time period, consider the records that might have been created.
Although Woodrow Wilson had declared his intention to keep America neutral in this conflict, the nation declared war on April 17, 1917. Before the war ended, more than four million “doughboys” had served in the U.S. Army with American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), U.S. Navy, or Marines.
Under the Selective Service laws enacted in Congress in 1917, all men (U.S. citizens and aliens) born between September 1873 and September 1900 were required to register with the local draft board. The Draft Registration cards provide information not only about the soldiers who served, but about men in the community who registered for the draft. These records are available at many state libraries and Archives, and the National Archives in Washington, DC. The original draft registration cards are located in the National Archives-Southeast Region in Morrow, Georgia.
There were three dates of WWI draft registration: 5 June 1917 for those age 21-31; June and August 1919, for those age 21 since first registration; and 2 Sept 1918, for those age 18-21 and age 31-45.
Comer Apple was born at Carthage, Tennessee in 1895. He was the son of Tom and Effie Apple. The family moved to Robertson County, Tennessee after 1910. His siblings were Bailey, Tommie, Della, Jones, S.T. , Olcie, and Woodard. Comer registered for the draft in Springfield. He was inducted on 21 September 1917 and joined the Company A Engineers. He was overseas from 1 May 1918 until 2 April 1919. He was honorable discharged on 16 April 1919.
After the great war, Comer married and settled into the Coopertown community of Robertson Co. Tenn. He and Sallie raised their children, Comer L., Virginia, and Buford. In addition to the direct official records created, there are many other records of the events surrounding the World war. Remember the first step of genealogy, which also applies here - Start with yourself and your home. Be sure to look for World War I era certificates or medals. Don’t forget to check the newspapers of larger towns, which was the collection point for companies. There are daily accounts of soldiers’ enlistments and company movements. In addition, there are regular accounts of the events in Europe and even larger accounts of the Armistice and Victory continuing into 1919. Don't forget there were women involved with the Red Cross and other organizations. We will discuss some other records later.

Start by reviewing these websites:

Experiencing War: World War I; Veterans History Project, Library of Congress

Cyndi's List; WW1

National Archives; International Researchers 'jazzed' over WW1 Draft Cards

World War I Draft Registration Card Request Form; Friends of the National Archives, Southeast Region

Ancestry; Link to World War I Draft Registration (requires subscription)

Be sure to record this information in your family files, and also share with repositories where others can locate. Remember to keep the story alive.

Friday, February 25, 2011

WDYTYAs Kim Cattrall Finds Trail of Missing Grandfather

Kim Cattrall is the featured celebrity on this week's episode of NBC's Who Do You Think You Are? She had learned from her Mother and Aunts that their father 'abandoned' them and they never heard from him again. George Baugh was described by his family as "very, very clever."
Kudos to the producers for tackling this difficult family story of division. Many families experience the loss of family members for a myriad of reasons. The story of these individuals are often left out of the family picture and story.
Kim was an active participant in the discovery of her Grandfather George, but I kept asking more questions than she. When we learned George left his family, and his own siblings described him as being in trouble, I said let's look at those criminal court records or juvenile police records - What kind of trouble did he really stir?
These records might have shed more light on why he ran away or left the town when he did. Where there other connections with his wife's family that would have prevented his escape?
I felt very sympathetic with the family members as they discovered more of the trail of this George. We have all learned tough information about a family member that discouraged or disappointed us. Kim kept a very positive attitude about everything, but George.
There was a shortage of records in the beginning of the show, but later records included City Directories, Telephone Books, Birth and Marriage Registers and Family Photographs. This show will certainly get you thinking about discovering the invisible characters in your family.
To find these folks and include them in your story, consider the following tips.
1. Always be willing to ask the difficult questions.
2. Try to think from the opposite point-of-view.
3. Keep an open mind when using oral history.
4. Don't give up until you find the whole picture.
WDYTYA is giving all researchers the opportunity to see some successful research projects presented in a linear format. The stories keep to come together easily, but they still show remarkable characters in the settings of time and place.
I'm already looking forward to the next episode with Lionel Richie. Join me in keeping the story alive.

Actively Participating in #wdytya or Who Do TV

I've thoroughly enjoyed this season of NBC's television program - Who Do You Think You Are? Although I must admit that I am a history or genealogy TV fan. When my great niece (Morgan) and nephew (Mason) visit and want to watch a video - they know that my stash ranges from The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James to George Washington's First War so they usually bring their own video.
However, even these two youngsters are enjoying WDYTYA. They understand that records tell the story of individuals and families. Recently, Morgan and Mason spent the day with me. I needed to visit a nearby county Archives, and knew I could safely visit with these two. Once we arrived, I handed Morgan a genealogical magazine with a small picture of Elvis Presley on the cover. I have to admit that I saw that picture and knew Morgan would be captivated, since she is definitely a Elvis fan.
Her excitement led her to read the article, where she found a copy of his birth certificate and a few other documents. She proceeded to extract the data from the documents in the article, and I saw her look at the front of the magazine several times as she wrote.
"What are you finding in the front of the magazine?" I asked.
"I need the Volume and Number for my citation!" she answered as though I should have known.
I asked her why she had recorded all these details. She looked at me with determined eyes and replied
"Why, Uncle Mark, if I don't record these details, how will I ever find these documents again?"
Her citations aren't complete, but at least she understands one of the major purposes - to locate the documents again.
As I watch each episode of WDYTYA, I see celebrities, librarians, archivists and researchers handle the documents that tell very specific stories. Will they ever want to see that document again? I can assure you that the wonderful folks at WDYTYA will see that the celebrities will get a well-documented copy of that record.
As the show airs, I follow all of the tweets about the show and often ask questions or make comments myself. I use Tweetdeck to follow the posts of others. Add a column - search #wdytya - and you will see all posts that use the 'hashtag' #wdytya. Try it this week or next week. You will be surprised.
Then join Geneabloggers Radio after the show for a discussion of the episode and other topics. Become a part of this genealogical community.
Help us all by keeping the story alive and participating in the genealogical community.
Disclosure: I provided some research for WDYTYA episodes, and have wonderfully brilliant great nieces and nephews.
J. Mark Lowe
J. Mark Lowe Reviews
Springfield, Tennessee Speakers
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