29 May 2008

African Renaissance Campaign for Family History

On one of the news services I subscribe to, I ran across an interesting article "South Africa: Genealogy Project to Connect Family History." Click on this article title for the whole story.

It comes from BuaNews (Tshwane) and states that "KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sibusiso Ndebele is to officially launch the Family Tree Project aimed at facilitating research into family history and connecting family members."

The project, to be launched in Durban on Wednesday is part of the 10th Annual African Renaissance Festival. Mr. Mdebele is the provincial chair of the African Renaissance campaign. Schools will issue assignments about family history and part of the campaign will be to enable the collaboration between academics and family historians in documenting respective family histories.

I wish there were such programs in other parts of the world, including the U.S. It might be a more peaceful place once folks learned how interconnected we are. The good and the bad we find in our family is a fact of life and it helps us to be more humble.

26 May 2008

Memorial Day 2008

It was dark and dreary here today and I hope that didn't ruin any of the Memorial Day Celebrations. This morning I spoke with my Dad and said he was my favorite veteran. Dad served in the Army Air Corps in World War II. He was in the 1103rd Army Air Forces Base Unit.
He was discharged at a Staff Sergeant after serving as an aerian engineer working on aircraft. He received his training at Chanute Field in Illinois and other training in Provo, Utah and Jefferson Barracks in Missouri. Dad has wonderful stories, and yes, I have interviewed him and typed them up. I love hearing his stories about riding camels, seeing the Great Sphinx at Giza, pyramids, and more. He told about helping to train Russians, about being very ill and in a British Naval Hospital where he was visited by Jack Benny. At one place he was stationed, he and his buddies had a monkey. Dad has a hearing disability, likely from the noise of working on the aircraft.

Thanks Dad and thanks to all the other brave folks in the military today and in the past.

My German Fischers & Rohrs and My Youngest Son

This afternoon, I was doing some research in the digitized books at Google Books. I found some thing about my German family I hadn’t come across before. I knew that my step-Great Great Great Grandfather Gottfried Rohr and my Great Great Granduncle Frederick Fischer ran a tailoring establishment/clothing store in Watertown, Wisconsin. What I found on Google Books was an excerpt from W. F. Jannke III’s Watertown: A History (Arcadia Publishing, 2002). The author was relating stories about Watertown during the Civil War. In discussing events of 1861, Mr. Jannke reports, “in May, the firm of Fischer and Rohr, a tailoring establishment, were awarded a government contract to furnish uniforms for the Watertown Rifle Company.”

Several years ago on the Watertown Historical Society’s website, I had seen the images of the front and back of a Civil War token with the name of the store on it. There were actually two tokens on that website. I saw one on e-Bay many months ago but it wasn’t in my budget at the time and I told my youngest son about it.

Today, my oldest son checked his mailbox to see what had arrived in the last few days and it contained an envelope for me from my youngest son. I opened it to find the 1863 Fischer & Rohr tokens. Now, several hours later, I am still a little misty-eyed. Wow! Thanks, Pat. Also, how amazing I received it on the day I was working on that same family.

These tokens were actually used as money and the history surrounding them and the various types is quite interesting. Just type "civil war tokens" into your favorite search engine to learn more. This coin is of the "store card" token type and was intended to be used in the Fischer & Rohr establishment. Some of these tokens were political in nature and others were designed to be used as money to replace scarce coins.

24 May 2008

Some upcoming 2008 events and registration deadlines

May 30-31 Newberry Library, Railroad Ancestors Workshop. I am one of the several lecturers for this exciting event. Learn more about the Railroad Retirement Board and its records, how to search for railroad workers, indexes, databases, books, what the National Archives holds for RR research, employee records and more.

June 1 Registration deadline for a fantastic cruise Oct. 25-Nov. 1 with a large genealogy element! You must sign up via the genealogy section to be part of this element of the cruise. It features well-known and entertaining speakers John Colletta, Stephen Danko, Michael Leclerc, Paul Milner, George Morgan, Donna Moughty, Laura Prescott, and Paula Stuart-Warren. Learn while relaxing and have plenty of things for your non-genealogical traveling companion to do.

June 2 Deadline to save $50.00 on registration for 2008 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in historic Philadelphia. Check the FGS Website for more details and the Conference Blog also. The buzz is showing that this is a wonderful destination event.

Irish Newsletter Septs Wins NGS Award

At this month's National Genealogical Society Conference in Kansas City, winners were announced for many special awards. Among the winners was the Irish Genealogical Society International, which is based here in Minnesota. The IGSI quarterly journal, the Septs, won first place in the NGS Newsletter Competition under the category of Major Genealogical or Historical Society Newsletter.

Along with my congratulations, I want to add "you've come a long way, baby!" since the early 1980s when the typed newsletter was assembled on my dining room table for several years and before and after that in other members' homes.

IGSI is truly an international organization with members in all 50 U.S. states and ten other countries. Check out its website and then see how easy it is to join online. I had let my membership really lapse and just rejoined. The Septs and the website make this $30.00 fee very worthwhile.

The excellent IGSI library is at the Minnesota Genealogical Society's Library at 1185 Concord St. N., South St. Paul, Minnesota. The library is on the second floor and parking is free!

20 May 2008

Prizes for filling in 2010 census questionnaire?

I happened to see the front page of the USA Today newspaper this morning and saw this story headline "Census considers rewards for data." Of course I read the article which is also here. One of the persons commenting on the matter alluded to the problems of census cooperation that stems from the "fear and suspicion of government." Family historians already know that may be the reason for missing people and/or information on the early census enumerations.

Maybe if our ancestors had been given a store gift card or some monetary reward, none of them would be missing on the census. The article reported a concern for people filing multiple returns to obtain more prizes. At any rate, I thought the article was interesting and humorous at the same time. All that is needed is to turn everyone into a family historian and teach them about the other wonderful uses of the census. Surely, everyone residing in the U.S. would all cooperate. I wonder what could be offered to U.S. citizens residing in other countries? I am almost sitting on my hands to keep from commenting on the problems of the government and record keeping whether on paper or electronically.

I thought about the incentives that might have been offered to entice our ancestors to cooperate with the enumerator. What about a horse and buggy ride into town rather than having to ride horseback? Here are a few more ancestral incentives:
  • free horseshoeing for a year
  • discounts on meals at the town hotel
  • marriage by a circuit rider of your choice
  • one hot lead to where a mother lode of gold is located in California
  • five chickens
  • two bolts of non-scratchy fabric
  • two bins of coal
  • excavation of a new root cellar
  • new bonnet or suspenders in the latest fashion

11 May 2008

Minnesota is 150 years old today

May 11th, 1858 is the date of statehood for Minnesota. 150 years ago. Probably seems pretty young to those of you with New England and Mid-Atlantic roots. I grew up in historic Reserve Township in St. Paul, Minnesota and have been a lover of history from childhood. Today I spend much of my work time researching the original settlers of the land now called Minnesota. The Indians are a vital part of the history of the land. I know some of the descendants of those Indians and understand how important that land still is to them.

One of my great grandfathers, Michael Hanley, settled in Minnesota Territory before statehood. My children have several other ancestors who settled in the Territory before it became a state.

150 years ago does seem "recent" compared to the 164 year old house I visited today. I was in Raytown, Missouri, visiting the Rice-Tremonti Home. The house was built circa 1844 and today is on the National Register of Historic Places. The site is on the historic Santa Fe, California, and Oregon Trails. I was with a friend, Jan Davenport, who is a descendant of the Archibald Rice family. We spent time talking with Roberta Bonowitz, a 97 year young whiz about Raytown history, and Mick O'Neal, another Rice descendant. The three of them spent a couple hours pouring over family history details.

07 May 2008

Can't Attend the NGS Conference in Kansas City?

The National Genealogical Society Conference begins in a week, May 14-17. If you live in the Midwest or into the eastern plains states, it is a nice drive to Kansas City. Visit the NGS website for more details on the lectures, exhibit hall, and for details in case you haven't signed up and plan to do so at the door.

If you can't attend, consider purchasing conference lectures on CD. More than 120 of the lectures will be recorded and available for purchase as CD-ROMs beginning in June 2008 from JAMB Tapes, Inc. More details will be provided in the June issue of UpFront. (you can sign up for this at www.ngsgenealogy.org

Many lectures from the Richmond 2007 NGS Conference in the States are available now at http://www.JAMB-Inc.com. You can also access the JAMB-Inc. website via a link on http://ngsgenealogy.org. Individual CD-ROM's cost $12.00; a package of 10 or more may be purchased for $11 each.

Genealogy Cruise Sign-Up Deadline is Near

June 1st -- way back in January it seemed so far away. Have you been thinking of joining us on a Caribbean cruise? It would be a whole week away from the political ads just before election day! The dates are October 25-November 1, 2008. I have posted details about the cruise several times.

Check out more of the cruise info here. Due to fuel costs there is a fuel surcharge of about $35.00 per person. Don't let this date get away -- I promise you excellent learning, networking, and still time for a ton of other enjoyment on this cruise. The group of instructors offers something for everyone. And then there is the ship, Liberty of the Seas, which offers a wide array of restaurants, activities, amenities, and most of all, a chance for some good relaxation just before the winter holidays.

02 May 2008

Upcoming Lectures

What have I been doing lately since the posts here are slowing down? I was on the road for 2.5 weeks in April and now am working some long days on client research, article writing, and lecture preparation.

I am also posting to another blog that is for the FGS Conference this September 3-6 in Philadelphia. Under the Philadelphia link click on Blog for more details.

I hope to see many readers over the next few weeks:

May 3, Morris, Minnesota: Stevens County Historical Society, where I will be lecturing on American Indian Research. Click here and here for more info on this free event.

May 14-17, Kansas City, Missouri: National Genealogical Society Conference where I will be doing several lectures. The full schedule of events is on the website and you can still register online or at the door.

May 30-31, Chicago, Illinois: Newberry Library Workshop on Railroad Ancestors
I am one of four speakers on the subject. This is a free two day event.