Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The 2011 iGene Awards for Kinexxions

It's time for the Annual iGene Awards in which we announce our “best” blog posts from last year in five categories. Created by Jasia at Creative Gene for the Carnival of Genealogy, this year marks the 5th anniversary of the awards.

And this year, the ceremony for kinexxions is coming to you from Salt Lake City! What better place for such an event? And now, the winners...

Best Picture: Going through my Mother's papers after her death last February, I discovered a photograph that I had never seen before. In Mom :: Before she was Mom I presented that photo and several a lot of others. Is this my Mom?

Best Screen Play: The post Joslin Rendezvous :: The Homestead discusses a few of the trials and tribulations encountered by Virgil Joslin when he homesteaded in South Dakota in the early 1900s. Additional material written by his son Irwin would be used to create a feature-length movie that would star Sam Elliott and Meryl Streep as Virgil and Mary Joslin.

Best Documentary (investigative research): This past summer I decided to take on my Switzer family in Columbiana County, Ohio and found that there were Not One, Not Two, Not Three, but Four of Them! with “them” being men named Jacob Switzer. One of them was my ancestor, but which one? Yes, this is one of a series of posts, all of which are listed here.

Best Biography: The rules are going to be stretched a little in that two series of posts are being selected, neither were actually “written” by me. The Life of Hazlette Brubaker presents the story of my Grandmother's life, as told in her own words, in a series of 15 articles.

The Berlin Family :: John D. and Susannah is the first in a series of articles that includes family Bible Records as well as 35 letters written between 1861-1895 between family members. (Links to those documents are included at the bottom of the selected post.)

Best Comedy: Humorous writing is not really my forte (I've often been told that I have a very dry sense of humor, almost humorless.) At any rate, I've selected One Half of an Old Mare called Van Dora for this category. Maybe you “had to be there” but finding Van Dora in the inventory of the estate of William B. Jones had Carol and me cracking up for several days.

And that brings to a close the iGene Award Ceremony for 2011... hmm, well, not just yet. Since I've been doing a bit of traveling I thought I'd modify the categories in several areas and present a “travel” version also...

Best Picture: Nature's Trifecta

Best Screen Play time with Geneabloggers: Ah... Anastasia and St. Augustine

Best Biography Unique Event: Badlands :: Where the Buffalo Do Roam

Written for the 114th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Think I Have it! Maybe...

As I alluded to in this post, for the past week or so I've been working on a digital file naming scheme for my ancestor research.

I realize that some people are advocates for letting the computer find a specific file by searching for a term with the documents or by using tags and other file properties. Using that premise, file names don't really matter.

However, for me, there is another factor involved in naming files. And that is my desire to make it easier for those who come after me to know what it is they are looking at and some way for them to know what is “most” important. Hopefully, someone will care enough about what I've done to even look at this stuff and know how to access it. And I think I'll still be able to find those somewhat elusive files (“I know I've got it, but where is it?”) using the inherent search capability of Windows.

I'd appreciate some feedback on what my readers think about this “system” of storing files. After writing this post, it seems somewhat complicated but I hope it really isn't. The post is a little long - I get somewhat "long-winded" with the descriptions...  As always, double-click on the images to view a larger version.

The basic folder structure is probably similar to what most people use. It includes two “primary” folders – one for the family lines of my Mother and the other one for my Father. Within those primary folders are surname folders for each family line for which some research has been done. This was done because two separate databases are maintained in Legacy – it's just easier for me to keep the various surnames straight. So far it hasn't caused any issues with “crossover” families (same family in both lineages).

That first folder at the top “ADD-to-LEGACY” includes recent data that has not yet been entered into the Legacy database. It primarily includes folders for the families that I did research on while in Salt Lake City last year – families that had not previously been researched: Brinker, Daniel, Dietzler, Ellis, Leatherman, Neel, Rupert, Switzer, Veatch, and Williams.

The folders at the bottom that begin with “z” are research files that, for various reasons, I may want to keep together. Actually, I haven't quite decided what to do with them yet!

For instance, “z-Grandmas-Files” contain photos and information that could be put in with the specific ancestor but I'm thinking that I want to maintain the integrity of that “collection” of data by storing it in all in one place... but I'm just not sure!

The “z-Multiple-Families-Info” folder contains scanned pdf documents of “paper files” such as land records, biographies, death records, marriages, and obituary notices, usually within a specific location (county). As the folder name implies, multiple surnames are contained within each type of document file. Eventually, each of those pdf files will have a corresponding “index document” associated with it and that data will be included in a “master pdf index” file. Index documents have already been created on some of those pdf files, thanks to a project completed several years ago by my niece Tami.

The “z-New-England-Lines” folder includes pdf files on all research done on the lines that connect to the Goodrich and Joslin families, most of which is from published sources. Dealing with those files will be a future project but most of them have been indexed according to the surnames mentioned within.

Back to the surname folders... One of my “requirements” was to create a “system” that would (hopefully) make sense to a non-genealogist family member as well as for me to be able to see everything on each family-line in one place, more or less. So the number “01” folder is the most recent ancestor. In all cases except one that ancestor will be a female (the exception, of course, being the Wiseman surname). So the name of the “01” folder “directs” you to the folder of the person she married, such as the “01-Margaret-see-Benjamin-Foster” folder. The only information or documents that will be in her folder are those that pertain to her prior to her marriage. In the vast majority of cases, that will only be the marriage record. In some cases that folder will be empty and is simply a place-holder that makes the “link” between that family and the one she married into.

The “02” folder will be her parents, and the “03” folder will be her grandparents, etc. with each successive number being the next generation.

In some cases , such as the Hazlett line, there is no information on the siblings. If you look in the Myers folder for “02-John-Margaret” you'll see two folders, which (I think) are self-explanatory. Basically, any information on the ancestors (John and Margaret) is going into the “01-Ancestor-Info” folder. Any information on their children, with the exception of daughter Margaret who married Benjamin Foster, is being put into the “02-Family-Info” folder. Not much research has been conducted on her siblings yet so there isn't a lot of data there. At some point, if more research is done, sub-folders may be created for each of the children of John and Margaret.

In both the Hazlett and Myers family, some research has been done on what may be the next generation. Another folder has been inserted “0Xa-Generation-Below-Not-Proven” to indicate that those possible ancestors have not yet been confirmed. A text document will be included within that folder that provides a summary of the research as well as my reasoning for including that person. This will actually be a modified Legacy report since the data will have been entered in the Legacy database. Hopefully. Someday.

For most of the ancestors, information gathered on both husband and wife are in the same folder, but, of course, there are always exceptions. Because I have so much information on my grandparents, I've separated them into two folders (which seems appropriate since they were married twice and divorced twice).

The naming convention decided upon (for the most part) is:
“Surname-Given Name-Date-Document Type-additional information”
This provides a time-line, of sorts, for the ancestor. In most cases the year alone will be used in the date position, but where there are multiple records for the same year I've included the month and day as well.

The files in the “02-Family-Info” folders will be listed in alphabetical sequence by surname then first name, as shown above. If sufficient research has been done on each of the children, separate folders will be created for them.

Because my grandmother was married three times, she posed a bit of a problem. In order to create a “time-line” for her information, I moved the date to the beginning of the file name.

But I'm not sure that I like the idea of having my grandparents in separate folders...

So I renamed a sampling of Grandpa's files with the date first and put them together with some of Grandma's files. This resolves the issue of various names, shared events, and gets them back together again. But the file structure is different...

As another “test” of sorts, I worked with some of the files for Jacob and Catherine (Brinker) Switzer by putting them all in date sequence. The left-hand panel also shows the various folders for the other Switzer families in Columbiana County that were researched to sort out those families. Much of that data, shown above, still needs to be sorted and renamed.

For the older generations I have mostly deed records, tax lists, and estate files as well as some military and pension files. If the estate and pension files are large then they will go into a separate folder (see “02-Eli-Lovina”). Eli's file contains 90 images and Lovina's has nearly 60 images.

This is still in the testing or preliminary phase. It makes sense to me but does it to anyone else?

I severely dislike having to click through multiple levels to get to a document. So, to eliminate another level of sub-folders I am thinking of changing the folders for the “02-Family-Info” where there are folders for the children. In other words, in the Switzer folder for example, rename the “Barbara-Jacob-Manaweck” folder to “02-Family- Barbara-Manaweck” and “02-Rebecca-Peter-Buchecker” to “02-Family- Rebecca-Buchecker”, etc. and move them up one level eliminating the “02-Family-Info” folder. Does that make sense?

If you've read this far, I Thank You, and I hope it hasn't been too confusing. I'm trying to make it simple yet functional. Is it understandable to anyone besides myself? Your thoughts and ideas are most welcome and greatly appreciated...

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "I Think I Have it! Maybe," Kinexxions, posted January 26, 2012 (http://kinexxions.blogspot.com/2012/01/i-think-i-have-it-maybe_26.html : accessed [access date])

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Up and Away :: Evening Version

Depending upon the weather, mass ascensions of the balloons are held in the morning and in the early evening. About five o'clock I made my way back to Rotary Park. I could see a bunch of balloons already in the sky and it was an impressive sight!

Even more impressive was seeing the balloons floating just a few feet above the surface of Lake Havasu. Wouldn't it have been fun to be a passenger in either one of the boats or one of the balloons?

There were reportedly six unusually shaped balloons at the festival. This cute little fish is the only one that came close enough so that I could get a nice shot.

Looking to the west, more balloons were ascending. I counted about 40 all in the air at the same time, though not close enough together that you could get them all in one picture.

Another pilot showing off!

For a few brief moments, the sun came out from behind the clouds and the southeastern sky lightened up considerably. I made my way south, toward that spit of land jutting into the lake.

Several balloons landed there but many others continued on further, landing on the southeastern shore of Lake Havasu.

Meanwhile, there were still quite a few balloons drifting off into the western sky.

Carnival rides and other festival activities carried on into the evening, but I did not! I stayed around a few minutes longer, watching the “glow” of some of the balloons still moored on the island.

I also spent a few minutes simply enjoying the awesome sunset that Mother Nature provided for the ending of another beautiful day!

A note about the two photos of the balloons with the golden sky: Those two shots were taken with the camera at the maximum 35x zoom setting and about 20-30 minutes prior to the sunset photo. I made no changes or color corrections to those shots (or any others, for that matter though several had adjustments to contrast and lightness).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Up and Away :: Morning Version

Friday, January 20th – The campground where I am staying is a reasonable drive from Lake Havasu City. Having seen several signs indicating that a Balloon Festival is in progress this weekend, I got up at (what is for me) an early hour and made it into town by 8:30 am.

Stopping off at the Rotary Park along the channel, across from the Festival venue, I was somewhat disappointed to see only two balloons preparing to rise into the sky. Since I hadn't yet had the opportunity to see the famous (or infamous, depending upon you point of view) London Bridge, I continued walking along the channel. As I made my way around a curve, I saw several more balloons floating in the sky. Apparently there were five or six sites that were being used this morning from which to launch the balloons.

I never did see a multitude of balloons all at one time – there were reportedly 60 some balloons participating in the festival – but it was fun to watch them as they passed overhead.

I'm not sure what the “draw” is about seeing hot air balloons in the sky, but there were a lot of people strolling along the channel and enjoying the day.

One of the “big” things for the pilots of the balloons was for them to display a bit of expertise and skill by “dipping” their basket into the water and skimming along the surface for a short distance.

Success! Touchdown and liftoff.

More coming my way!

I never realized that the pilots had so much control over their balloons. Of course, the air was still, with hardly a breeze blowing.

Some of the balloons came pretty darn close to the London Bridge!

Just as I snapped this picture, the seagull came into the frame. I think it adds something to the picture – just not sure what! LOL.

Passing directly overhead...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What a Way to End the Day!

Sunday, January 15th – A heavy blanket of gray clouds covered the western Arizona sky all day long. As I was returning to the campground the sun appeared beneath the layer of clouds and quickly dropped behind the mountain range. While driving, I was watching the sky change dramatically - all of a sudden it was as if the sky was on fire! There was no safe place to pull off the road but luckily there was a “scenic view” area a short distance away. I was afraid I would miss the photo op but Mother Nature was good to me, this time!

The “normal” view of the camera just wasn't giving me what I wanted. I was able to get off one panoramic shot before the scene changed completely. This photo has been cropped to about half of that panoramic image, and you just “have” to double-click on it to view the bigger picture! Really.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Travel Update, etc.

Since leaving Louisiana two weeks ago, Mother Nature has been reasonably good to me. All through Texas, across New Mexico and into Arizona the daytime temperatures were in the low 60s. But the nights were just a bit chilly – in the upper 20s and low 30s. For the most part I stayed in campgrounds that had electricity so I kept warm with the aid of a small electric heater. But still, getting up in the mornings with those low temperatures is not a lot of fun!

So I did some checking of the weather and took a look at the map and have found a spot that is quite comfortable – at least it has been for the past few days! Temperatures have been in the 70s during the day and only dropping into the low 40s at night. I'm not going to say exactly where I'm staying, just that it is in western Arizona – and, no Carol, it's not Quartzsite!

After thinking it over a bit, I've decided to stay here until the end of January when I'll head north to Salt Lake City for RootsTech. I'd like to do some more research while I'm there so I'll be taking this time to review the documents and information obtained last year on my two visits there. I will also be taking a look at my database to try and select which ancestors to research and devise a plan for them.

In addition to that, I have begun (just barely) the boring and tedious but absolutely necessary task of re-organizing my digital files! With everything that I acquired last year and all of the genealogy stuff I had scanned (and never got around to properly naming) prior to leaving on this journey, my digital genealogy files are a really big mess. I can't easily find documents I'm looking for and several, that I know I have, still haven't been found! Anyway, that project is still in its infancy. I'm working with several smaller surname folders to devise a file naming scheme that makes sense to me... more on that later!

In conjunction with renaming files, an even bigger and more complex project on the horizon is to go through and view every document and file – just to see exactly what it is and to ensure that the information and source has been entered into my Legacy database. I know there are a lot of things that have never been entered... Heck, I may even (finally) get around to “attaching” those documents to the appropriate people in the database! But first, before doing that, I need to ensure that the file structures and names are the way I want really want them.

Maybe then, I'll know what I do have! And, just as important if not moreso, where it is located.

One of my favorite quotes regarding genealogy is from fellow Joslin researcher, Dr. Donna Ihns - “When I get to thinking genealogically, I feel like Yul Brynner in 'The King & I': There are times I think I am not sure of what I absolutely know."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lunch with a Blog Reader

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of having lunch with one of my blog readers! Nancy Hill (aka Nerthus) had left a comment on a post when I passed through the Tucson area in early December, asking if we could meet. Since I was already in Texas when she left the comment, we agreed to get together when I came back in January – and we did!

We met at a little cafe in downtown Tucson that was relatively easy to get to - I only drove around the block three times before I finally saw the cafe! We spent several hours conversing about Indiana – she is from the southwest part of Kosciusko County and I'm from the northeast corner – about blogging, and of course, about genealogy and family history research.

And, guess what? We're cousins! Imagine that! You have to go back to my 5th Great Grandfather, Hans Jacob Brubaker III (about 1760-about 1830), to get to our common ancestor. So yeah, somewhat distant, but still related ;-)

Nancy Hill and Becky Wiseman. January 11, 2012.

This was my first time meeting with a blog reader. It wasn't as awkward as I thought it would be, in fact it wasn't awkward at all. Perhaps the knowledge that she was from Kosciusko County and interested in genealogy helped. Two genealogists can always find “something” to talk about! It was a pleasure meeting Nancy and spending a few hours with her. Thank you, Nancy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kinexxions is Five Years Old Today!!

In August of 2007, just seven months after I had started blogging, I wrote a post titled Why Blog Genealogy? Why not? in which I stated my focus was “to present the genealogy and history of the families that I am researching, and, hopefully, to reach out to others who are interested in the same families. I wasn't sure if anyone else would be interested in what I had to say, but how would I know if I didn't try?” In that post I also listed several pros and cons of blogging your genealogy that I think still apply today.

Five years later, my primary goal is still the same, as are my reasons for blogging.

That said, there is that little matter of wanderlust that seems to have taken over my life! But that too has taken another turn. This past year I was able to spend a total of 10 weeks at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City! As a result, less time was devoted to traveling and more to the ancestors. I think they were trying to tell me something!

I'd like to thank everyone who has taken an interest in what I write, those that subscribe via a feed-reader and those that visit the blog. Thanks too go to everyone who has left a comment on the blog or contacted me directly. Comments are a reinforcement that what I'm writing is of value to anyone besides myself. Thank you.

I can't say yet what the future will bring or what paths I'll follow, but I do know (hope) that blogging will continue to play a role...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Arizona Sunset

I hesitated to post two sunset pictures in a row, but you take what Mother Nature gives you – the good along with the bad...

Benson, Arizona.
Sunday, January 8th 2012.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Mexico Sunset

The view from my campsite at Rockhound State Park.
Southeast of Deming, New Mexico.
January 6, 2012.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Plant Life at White Sands

I was amazed at the variety of plants and vegetation that survive in the dunes of White Sands National Monument. The dunes are constantly on the move, engulfing everything in their path and then slowly uncovering them again. Certain plants have adapted to the environment and manage to survive a little longer – as the sand covers them they grow taller, but when the dune moves on and leaves them exposed they can no longer support their tall growth and then they crumble and die. These are but a few of the plants I saw...

There was seldom an expanse of the dunes (close to the road) where there were no human footprints. I walked as far as my legs would take me before the knee began hurting and then turned back. There were other footprints in the sand besides those of us humans - - these prints descended the high dune to the ground about 30 feet below and at a very steep angle! Was it a kit fox? They have adapted to the environment by being very small, no more than 5 pounds. They seldom show themselves during the daylight hours.

All photos were taken on Friday, January 6th, 2012.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

White Sands National Monument

From the title of this post and my post the other day, you've probably figured out that I'm not in Louisiana any more!

Tuesday morning (January 3rd) after spending a delightful two weeks over the holidays with extended family, I departed for points west once again. I zipped through Texas (well, it's not really possible to “zip” through unless you're traveling across the panhandle) in two full days of driving spending one night at Lake Mineral Wells State Park southwest of the Dallas metro area on U.S. 180.

It was a leisurely drive from Mineral Wells along U.S. 180 all the way to Hobbs, New Mexico where I spent the second night (January 4th) at the Harry McAdams Campground on the northwest side of Hobbs.

Thursday (January 5th) was an even more leisurely and interesting drive, going north from Hobbs to U.S. 82 through the high desert and over the Sacramento Mountains to Alamogordo. In spite of the dire warnings on numerous signs on the way to the mountains, the drive through was really quite nice. The grades weren't nearly as steep as some I've been on. It was a gradual uphill climb through a surprisingly forested area and the descent was not bad at all.

That night I stayed at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, 15 miles south of Alamogordo, at the base of the mountains overlooking the city. The next morning (Friday, January 6th) I drove the short distance to White Sands National Monument arriving just as the visitor center opened at nine o'clock. After watching the very informative movie and viewing the exhibits, I drove on into the dune field.

The sand at White Sands is unlike any that I've ever seen before. The dunes are hard packed and easy to walk on but the texture of the loose sand in the top layer is unusual. Most sand is rather coarse but this sand was so fine and soft – it has a consistency somewhat like talcum powder, it is that fine. When you squeeze it in your hands it sticks together but then easily crumbles. Very cool stuff. And very, very White!

I walked the one-mile nature trail through the dunes and the boardwalk trail then drove on out to the end of the road. The last few miles of the road are unpaved – they bulldoze a road through the dunes with ample areas for pulling off to the side and large parking areas so you can explore the dunes on your own.

Stopping at the end of the road, I strolled through, around, and over the dunes for about 3 hours. It was amazing how easy it was to walk on the dunes. It was also very quiet, few other people were out and about. In fact, I saw no one else while on my walk until I was almost back at the van. Every so often a jet plane from the nearby Air Force Base would fly overhead. But the quietness seemed even quieter once it passed by. It was a cool 36 degrees when I entered the park but with the sunshine and no wind whatsoever it felt much warmer. Though it was short, I very much enjoyed my visit to White Sands.

Plants take root in the dunes and when the dunes move on, these structures are left behind. They are very hard-packed and feel almost as hard as stone, except when you move your hand across the face of the mound it easily crumbles into soft dust.

It's hard to show it, but the top layer of sand is extremely fine and soft textured.

There were a few remnants of the last big snow storm (those white chunks in the center).

This was the only person I saw during my three-hour walk on the dunes. The bright white area on the left side is part of what remains from the last snowfall.

The top of this dune, where I was standing was about 35 feet high.

I saw very few areas of ripples like these, which surprised me. There was virtually no wind blowing on the day of my visit so these had been there for awhile.

The Sacramento mountains off to the east. Snowfall in the area has been light thus far this year, only the highest peaks are snow covered. All photos were taken on Friday, January 6th.