Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Money saving tips for requesting records

I had no idea having genealogy as a hobby would cost so much money...

If you're like me you don't buy anything unless it's on sale or there's a bargain. For me, genealogy is no different.

Luckily I have discovered some money saving tips for obtaining my ancestors records.

After a year of genealogy research I have only spent money on the following:
1) ancestry.com world subscription (but only after I got a coupon to pay the same rate for U.S. Edition as world edition
2) $20 for four death certificates
3) gas for cemetery visits
4) family tree maker software (although this was a gift so I didn't have to pay for it)

As a newbie in the field these tips have helped me tremendously. I hope it will help someone else as well:

My money saving advice:

*look on ancestry.com message boards or raogk for people who will either search for a record for free or a discounted price. In my case, I saved $14 for 4 death certificates ( $56 ) by finding someone on the ancestry.com message boards obtain them at a discounted price.

*Offer services in exchange for records..since my library has online access to the Chicago Tribune historical newspaper archive from the mid 1800's to present, I do look-ups for free. My information and available services are listed at RAOGK. I usually get 15-20 requests per month. Every once in awhile a request will come from someone in a location I am researching (like Arizona or Ohio). I'll do a few extra look ups for them in exchange for information about their county's resources, a cemetery look-up, etc. It's fun to talk to genealogists across the country who share the same passion for genealogy.

*look for specials, especially around holidays, where some genealogy websites will give you temporary free access to records...such as footnote giving free access to revolutionary war records during 4th of July weekend

*visit familysearch.org on a regular basis as they keep uploading new images daily. Most early to mid 1900 Chicago birth and death records are now posted with free access

*remember to do data entry and filing! You don't want to request the same record twice because you couldn't find your original copy.

I'll post some more tips soon...in the meanwhile what are some of your genealogy money saving tips?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Richard and Frances Brown

A wonderful woman in Springfield, Illinois went to the Illinois State Archives for me and found four of my ancestors' death certificates. At $5 each, it was much cheaper (and faster) than getting them through the county or Illinois Dept of public Health. I <3 genealogists!!

While I don't have a picture of their tombstones, I learned a lot more about my ancestors through their death certificates.

Richard George Brown, my great great grandfather, was born in New York. He was the son of Joseph Brown and Mary Gullin (a new surname to add to my growing list!). Joseph was born in Ireland, while Mary was born in New York.

Joseph and family moved to the Illinois/Wisconsin border. They moved from Boone county, IL to Walworth county in WI to Rockford in Winnebago County, Illinois.

Richard and his father, Joseph, were farmers. Richard married Frances Kizer in Walworth, Wisconsin. The Kizers were also farmers. Richard and Frances had many children. They seem rather creative with their first born son named Welcome Asle Brown. Another son, Clarence Clifton Brown, is my great grandpa.

Richard passed away in the Rockford Hospital from heart trouble, pneumonia, and bronchial inflammation in 1920. Frances passed away 6 years later from heart trouble and a gall bladder inflammation. Both are buried in Bluff Grove Cemetery in Rockford, IL. I have entered their information into findagrave and am crossing my fingers hoping someone will take a photo of their stones for me. Eventually I'll set up some time to take the hour and a half drive up to Rockford.

I would never have known Richard's mom's maiden name, or Richard and Frances burial location without their death certificates.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thanks for the Memories: Grandma Mildred "Millie" and Grandpa Nunzio Vitraelli

Thanks for the memories

This post is dedicated to my maternal grandparents, Mildred "Millie" P. Vitraelli nee Malouf/Gardos and Nunzio "Nick" Vitraelli.  Mildred "Grandma" and Nunzio "Grandpa" lived most of their lives in Addison, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago). The last few years of their lives were spent in Schaumburg, Illinois (another suburb of Chicago).

Mildred, born in 1927 in New York, was the daughter of Marie Cicero and Eugene Gardos (please see previous posts for information about Eugene Gardos). Marie was born in Castelbuono, Palermo, Italy and Eugene was born in Hungary. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where Mildred's brother was born. Eugene passed away in 1935, and Marie married John Malouf. The two kids were adopted by John Malouf, and the kids took on the surname Malouf.
Nunzio, born in 1925 in Chicago, Illinois, was the son of Leonard Vitraelli (aka Vittorelli, Vitorelli, Vittoreli, and Vederelli) and Lucy D'Orazio. Leonard was born in San Marco La Catola, Foggia, Apulia, Italy.  Family story is that the Vitraelli's had a vineyard in Italy, and one of Leonard's brothers/family members died from eating an unripe olive.  Lucy was born in Alfadena, L'Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy.

Foggia, Apulia Italy:
Pictures courtesy of wikipedia.com

My mom and her sister and brothers have shared some stories with me about the early lives of Nunzio and Mildred, although I am hoping to learn more. Nunzio owned a fruit and vegetable cart which he ran on Maxwell St in Chicago. Nunzio's brother, Michael, was drafted for World War II, and was killed in action in the Phillapines. Nunzio and Mildred liked to dance, in fact that's how they met each other. They had five children together, my mom was one of them.

My favorite memories of my grandparents are my family's weekly Friday visits to their house where we'd watch Wheel of Fortune and "TGIF" with grandma.

Grandpa loved to bowl and loved to talk about bowling. Grandpa worked at Dominick's as a produce manager.
Grandma worked odd jobs at the factory (my mom said she'd bring home a box of items and she'd have to put screws in them.  The family would sit around the kitchen table putting the little screws in the different items).  

I remember going shopping with Grandma at Straford Mall. She always picked out Alfred Dunner brand clothing.  Whenever I see Alfred Dunner clothing, I think of her. 
She taught me how to play pinnochle, and we played Scrabble on a regular basis. Grandma was unbeatable at Scrabble! I remember when she called all her friends to tell them that I had finally beaten her at Scrabble.

Grandma was a big fan of Notre Dame football, and wanted one of her grandchildren to attend.  There's still a couple of grandchildren left to fulfill her dream (ACT scores and money kept me from attending).  Grandma also loved the food channel. We used to tease her that chef Graham Kerr was her boyfriend.  I remember making Christmas cookies with her, especially the candy cane cookies, where we had to "roll snakes" of red and white dough together.

I remember visiting her on the holidays at her old house in Addison and playing on the piano in the living room and playing detectives in her "scary" basement.  I remember the time when I was finally taller than Grandma, she was only about 4'10" (so it wasn't too hard to do...). 

Grandma was a truly loving person, although her heart was as loving to her.  She had many heart attacks and bypass surgeries.  Grandma passed away in 1995.                                                                           I need to do some file organization, because I cannot find Grandma's obituary...it's here somewhere... I have created a memorial page for her on Findagrave .

I remember when Grandpa took me shopping for my birthday after my grandma passed away and bought me a jean jacket vest. He took me to McDonalds where we had hamburgers. My grandpa would always stick his french fries in the top of his hamburger so they were standing up...a hamburger castle. 

Grandpa would have coffee with Cocoa Puffs in the morning. Grandpa called me and my sisters the "three rozzes (sp?)".  Grandpa always held his lips in a scrunched up position that my mom and her siblings called the "funge face".  I remember visiting him in the hospital right before he passed away.  His face had turned yellow from jaundice and he was hallucinating.  He told my cousin there was soccer balls on the ceiling (my cousin loved soccer at the time).  Grandpa passed away shortly after our visit in 1996 (cause of death: cancer).

Grandpa's obituary from the Daily Herald:

Prayers for Nunzio "Nick" Vitraelli, 70, a resident of Schaumburg and formerly of Addison, will be held at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, April 3 at Ahlgrim & Sons Funeral Home, 330 W. Golf Road, Schaumburg, going to St. Marcelline Church for 10 a.m. Mass.
He was born June 21, 1925, in Chicago. Burial will be in St. Michael the Archangel Cemetery, Palatine. He died Sunday, March 31 at Alexian Brothers Medical Center. Mr. Vitraelli was a produce manager for Dominick's Finer Foods, and retired after 30 years of service. He was the husband of the late Mildred; father of Richard (Joyce), Eugene (Halina), Donna (Richard) Swanson, Karen (Rick) Brown, and Lynn Vitraelli; brother of Connie Hayford, Mary Vitraelli, and the late Joseph and Michael, and grandfather of Victoria, Richard II, and Michael Vitraelli, Dawn and Ryan Swanson, Melissa, Christina, and Diana Brown, and Anthony and Dominick Censotti. Visitation will be from 3 to 9 p.m. today at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society or Masses appreciated. Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL) Date: April 2, 1996

I also created a memorial for Grandpa at Findagrave.

I miss them both everyday. Thank you for the wonderful memories.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Peterson family in Chicago-follow-up to Donna's "Hanging from the Family Tree" post

Blogger won't let me leave a comment, and Donna doesn't have her contact information posted, so I'm hoping she'll see this post:

This post is a follow-up to Donna's Hanging from the Family Tree: Madness Monday - Leo the Liar post regarding Leopold Peterson and family in Chicago.

Dear Donna,

When I read your post I was super excited, as you mentioned a Raymond Peterson born in 1908. My great grandfather, Raymond Mason Peterson, Jr. was born in 1908 in Illinois. Reading your post further, I discovered it was a different Raymond Peterson. For a long time Raymond Peterson was my "brick wall" and have spent a lot of time researching Raymond Peterson's in Illinois as well as the Peterson family in Chicago. You may already have some of this information, but I thought I'd share:

This is the obituary for your Mabel (Mable) Gibney Peterson. She remarried a Mr. Britton. Her children are: Earl (Laverne) Peterson of Hammond, IN; Raymond E. (Bertha) Peterson of Helena, Montana; Hazel Peterson, Harold A. (Adele) Peterson, Helen Peterson, and Dorothy Peterson. She also had a child, Richard T. (Mary Ann) Britton with her second husband. Mabel's siblings were Arthur Gibney, Hazel Brown, and Grover Gibney.

1963-05-01 Chicago Tribune (IL)
Mabel May Britton, nee Gibney of 10920 S. Wabash, beloved mother of Richard T. of Harvey, Earl Peterson of Hammond, Ind., and Raymond Peterson of Helena, Mont., the late Hazel and Harold Peterson, Helen, and Dorothy Peterson; 11 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; fond mother-in-law of Mary Ann Britton of Harvey, Laverne Peterson of Hammond and Bertha Peterson of Helena, Mont.; dear sister of Arthur Gibney, Hazel Brown of Milwaukee, Wis., and the late Grover Gibney. Resting at Cooney Mortuary, 12 E. 112th place. Services 1 p.m. Friday. Interment Hazelwood.
Record Number: 19630501dn001

This is the obituary for your Harold Arthur Peterson.

1959-11-09 Chicago Tribune (IL)
Harold A. Peterson, 16609 Emerald avenue, Harvey, Ill., Nov. 7; loving husband of Adele; dear father of Cathleen June, Lawrence Michael, Patricia, and David; beloved son of Mrs. Mable Britton, Chicago, fond brother of Raymond E. of Helena, Mont., Earl of Hammond, Ind., and Richard T. Britton of Chicago. Resting at funeral home, 15334 Turlington avenue, Harvey, where funeral services will be held Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2 p.m. Interment Hazelwood. ED 1-0044.
Record Number: 19591109dn123

I'm not sure if this person is related, but it caught my attention as it has both a Leo and an Edwin (although the dates don't seem to add up).

1978-09-27 Chicago Tribune (IL)
Leo Peterson, beloved husband of Valentina Peterson; dearest father of Edwin (Valerie) Peterson. Chapel services Thursday, 11 a.m., at Blake-Lamb Funeral Home, 229 S. Main St., Lombard. Visitation Tuesday and Wednesday 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Member of Fraternica Livonica. Interment Oakridge Cemetery. Info. 627-1400 or Chicago 735-4242.
Copyright 1978, Chicago Tribune. For permission to reprint, contact Chicago Tribune.
Record Number: 19780927dn077

I'm not sure if this person is related, but it caught my attention as a Leo and Raymond were mentioned.

1959-09-08 Chicago Tribune (IL)
Lawrence H. Peterson, beloved husband of the late Elizabeth; fond brother of Alvin, Leo, Virgil, Bertram, Raymond, Ethel, and Loretta. Funeral 9:30 a.m. Thursday from chapel, 5203 Lake Park avenue, to church of St. Thomas the Apostle. Mass 10 a.m. Interment St. Mary's cemetery. HY 3-0013.
Copyright 1959, Chicago Tribune. For permission to reprint, contact Chicago Tribune.
Record Number: 19590908dn081

I was curious, so I did a search for Leo, Leopold, Edwin, and Edward, as well as Caroline, in the Chicago Tribune Historical Archive, but no luck.

Good luck with your research!


p.s. I love surname studies and sideways searching.

Wordless Wednesday: Grandpa and me

My paternal grandpa and me, abt 1988

Wedding Wednesday: Grandma and Grandpa Brown

Monday, July 19, 2010

Madness Monday: Organizing my death and cemetery files

I really liked Jen's Preparing for Research trips post regarding the ways in which she gets organized for an upcoming research trip by using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.  I think the reason I liked it is because I use the same method to prepare for upcoming research trips and to manage my ongoing research. 

Jen discussed her burial spreadsheet that lists names, birth and death dates, burial place, grave location, and death certificate number.  I will definitely add death certificate number to my spreadsheet, and I also have a couple of additions for her, and anyone else who likes to use Excel spreadsheets to manage their genealogy data:

In a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet I have a column for each of the following:

1) Cemetery
2) Findagrave.com ID
3) Prefix (I don't use this often, unless I know the person was never married, I'll put in Miss, or if a name like Kelly was a male instead of a female)
4) Last name
5) First Name
6) Middle Name
7) Suffix
8) Maiden Name
9) Nickname
10) Birth month
11) Birth day
12) Birth Year
13) Death month
14) Death day
15) Death Year
16) Plot
17) Notes
18) Marker Transcription
19) Has Photo (Yes/No)
20) (*New) Death Certificate
21) (*New) My spreadsheet contains both Brenden's ancestors and my ancestors.  So I'll add a column called Tree and indicate whether it's Brenden or my tree. 
22) I'm also going to add a column for obituary, to indicate whether or not I've found the obituary for that particular person. 

If you've use Findagrave.com to import multiple names for a single cemetery you'll probably recognize a lot of the categories.  I've added a few columns, and have kept some of the columns in the same order/format for easy uploading to findagrave.com.

I used to have a spreadsheet for each cemetery, but every time I added a new record, I'd have to add it in both spreadsheets.....until I found a better way (*Note: This is in Microsoft 2007, but other versions are similar):
1) Highlight the column headings of your spreadsheet
2) From Home, go to Sort and Filter (AZ with filter image)
3) Click the drop down arrow
4) Select "Filter"

Now all of the column heading will have a drop down arrow (pictured below).  When you want to find all of the people buried in a particular cemetery, for example Pine Mound Cemetery, I select the arrow in the cemetery column and in the drop down box select Pine Mound.  I can also use the drop down box to sort the columns alphabetically.  Or if I was looking for the graves of a particular surname, I'd go to the last name column, click on the arrow, and select the right surname from the drop down box.  Or if I was looking for all the graves I had not yet obtained pictures for, I'd go to the Has Photo column, click the arrow, and select no.

The spreadsheet also serves another purpose for me.  I use ancestry, google, familysearch.org and other websites on a frequent basis.  I often find a name or two that could possibly belong to my family, but I'm not sure how or if they really do belong.  I put their name and information in my spreadsheet to remind me to find information about that person and see if and how they are related, and so if I find they are related later down the road, I don't lose the information I found.

I need to do some more data entry, as I currently only have my ancestors whose cemetery locations I have found.  I need to add the ancestors whose cemetery location is unknown to help me remember to search for the location and remind me to look for them if I am in a cemetery that contains other family members.

I also find this spreadsheet useful to add information when I am not sitting in front of my genealogy software (Family Tree Maker), and can keep the information organized until I can input the information into the software.

What do you use to organize your cemetery/death files?  Do you have any suggestions for additional columns?

Friday, July 9, 2010

What I Do Meme

Thomas McEntee has a great posting suggestion for today, it's the "What I Do Meme".  What technology do you use for your genealogy research?

* Hardware: Windows Vista on my Dell Inspiron 1525
* External storage: Maxtor Removable Hard Drive 96 GB
* Online storage: Snapfish, Shutterfly, Picasa, and Flickr for photos
* Backup: CDs, DVDs, USB drives, external storage, hard copy

* Firewall: McAfee
* Virus protection: McAfee
* Spyware: McAfee
* File cleaner: None (?)

* Printer: HP Photosmart printer, copier, scanner, and photo printer.  Also on the search for a 35mm, slide, and 4x6 scanner for my large inventory of photos
* Phone: iPhone (best invention! :))
* Mobile media: iPod
* Music player: iPod
* Car audio: CD and AM/FM radio, usually hook up my iPod with connector
* eBook Reader: iPod, free Kindle reader

* Browser: Safari, Internet Explorer (when I have to)
* Blog: blogger  (http://pawprintsguidingmetothepast.blogspot.com/)
* RSS: Google
* FTP: Don't currently use

* Text editor: Word 2007
* Graphics: Photoshop Elements
* Screen capture: The "print screen" key on keyboard, then paste into document....

* Social media: Facebook, Scrapbook Flair
* Social bookmarking: Don't currently use
* Social profile: Facebook (?)
* URL shortener: Don't currently use

* Office suite: Microsoft Office 2007
* E-mail: Yahoo Mail
* Calendar: Outlook
* Accounting: Turbo Tax, Exel

* PDF generator: Nuance PDF Converter Professional 6 (use at work, don't own)
* Genealogy database: Ancestry.com, Family Tree Maker 2010
* Genealogy tools: Canon Digital Camera, OneNote (also going to check out EverNote), Google Maps, Google, iGoogle, Olympus voice recorder, Genealogy Gems and Family History Made Easy podcasts, ancestry.com, myfamily.com, familysearch.org, footnote.com,  Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK), findagrave.com (and many many more)
* Other tech stuff: TomTom GPS

Hmm...used to think I was pretty tech savvy....now after reading some other posts, I think not

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Remembering Vacations and Experiences with a DIY Button Board

The items found in my treasure chest today are my own treasures. 

I have two wonderful parents that took me and my two sisters on some pretty amazing vacations.  At last count, I've been to 35 of the 50 states, and a part of Canada and Mexico....all before I was 17, and never flew in an airplane until I was 17.  My parents (or me when I finally had money) bought a t-shirt for me as a souvenier and to help remember the visit.  You saw what I did with some of the t-shirts in a previous post. 

As I grew up, I realized I had way too many t-shirts and wanted something else to bring home to help me remember the visit or experience.  Then one day while hiking in the grand canyon, I saw a hiker wearing a hat that contained pins from all of the different places he had been.  I saw another hiker with a back-pack with embroidered patches from each place he had been.  At the time, I didn't know how to sew and never thought I'd ever sew...so I decided to go with the pins.  My first pin was purchased at the Seguaro National Park in Arizona.  Ever since, I have purchased a pin to commemorate each place I have travelled.  (I'm doing some ebay searching to even find pins from the places I went to when I was younger.) After my uncle passed away I was given some of his pins, some random, but some from his days at the Moose Lodge!
What was I going to do with all these pins (my treasures)?!  Like the hiker in Arizona, I tried putting the pins on a hat, but realized I would probably never wear the hat and was afraid I'd lose one of the pins.  I thought about a backpack....same problem.  I bought a lanyard at Disney...but that wasnt what I was looking for.  Slowly my collection has grown (exponentially after my visit to Disney two years ago....they have whole groups dedicated to pin trading....), and pins have found there way into a box on my dresser.  I wanted to display the pins, but didn't want it to look childish (if you know what I mean).  

I did some searches on google, flickr, blogs, and the Disney pin trader discussion board for ideas. I didn't like the display case idea...too generic for me.  I finally went to a couple of craft shops for ideas.  I didn't get an idea until I happened to go into the Crate and Barrel outlet (yes, they do exist!) by my house.  They had a 17" square bulletin board for $12 in the college section, and some fabric in the clearance bin.  I also had leftover fabric at home.  Perfect! 

I covered the board with the fabric I bought, and left over fabric from when I had made pillows for my couch and added the pins.  I left room to add additional pins, and maybe some photos from the trips.  I am really happy with the end result.....now I just need wall space to hang it....

Do you have a collection?  Did you inherit a collection? How do you display your collection?  

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Carnival of Genealogy: My Top 2 Websites for Digital Scrapbooking Resources and a few of my own pages

Today's post is Part 1 for the Carnival of Genealogy.

Before genealogy took a hold of me, scrapbooking was my primary passion.  I've spent many days and many hours scrapbooking, taking scrapbooking classes, watching scrapbooking tutorials and videos, and reading scrapbook themed blogs.  I used to post my scrapbook pages on Scrapbook Flair (find me as curlymelb4 on the site) but I've spent so much time on my genealogy research, I haven't created a lot of new pages lately.  If you are interested in doing digital scrapbooking, I'd highly recommend Scrapbook Flair.  Through Scrapbook Flair you can upload your scrapbook pages, download free images to use on your pages, participate in challenges and discussion boards, and comment on other peoples pages.  If you do a search for the keyword "heritage" on Scrapbook Flair, you'll get a lot of great ideas and hints on making your own pages.  My favorite use of Scrapbook Flair is the ability to print your pages, so you can add the pages to a traditional scrapbook for usually $0.99 for a 12x12" print (which is one of the cheapest and best quality prints I've found over the last two years)

My second favorite site for digital scrapbooking is Two Peas in a Bucket.  Similar to Scrapbook Flair, you can upload pictures, download free and purchased elements for your pages, participate in discussion boards, and view other pages.  Unlike Scrapbook Flair, the site also features traditional (paper) scrapbooking and card making.  The site also has great lessons and tutorials. Again, a search for the keyword "heritage" is a great place to start.

You don't need Photoshop or a fancy image editor program to start digital scrapbooking (I started by using Microsoft Power Point).  Digital Scrapbooking is a lot cheaper than traditional scrapbooking as you don't need to buy the paper and elements or print out pictures.  There are many free resources available online for downloading elements, backgrounds, and word art for your pages.

CAUTION: Digital Scrapbooking is extremely Addictive!  (don't say I didn't warn you...)

The pages I share below were created in 2009 using Photoshop.

My paternal grandpa, 1931

My paternal grandpa, abt 1948

My paternal grandpa's mom, Ruth M. Brown, abt 1930

Tombstone Tuesday: Honoring Pvt 1st Class Michael J Vitraelli

Photo taken by me, World War I Memorial, Washington, D.C., 2008

Today's Tombstone Tuesday post is to honor my maternal grandfather's brother (my great uncle), Private First Class Michael J. Vitraelli.  Michael "Mike" was born July 27, 1923, son of Leonard and Lucy Vitraelli (nee D'Orazio).  Michael, US Army Service #36638490, was a member of the 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, and was KIA during WWI, October 21, 1944 in the Phillapines, and is buried in Mt. McKinley (aka Manila American Cemetery) in Manila, Phillapines (Plot A, Row 13, Grave 152).  Michael was awarded the Purple Heart.

While I've only been to Washington, D.C. once, while on travel for work, I was able to pay my respects to my great uncle at the World War I Memorial.

Photos taken by me, World War I Memorial, Washington, D.C., 2008

Article from the Chicago Tribune about Michael's participation in WWI:
Article from the Chicago Tribune, 1944

Michael's Obituary:
Date: December 12-14, 1944
Chicago Tribune (IL)
Pvt. 1st Class Mike J. Vitraelli, Oct. 21, on Leyte Island, son of Lucy and Leonard Vitraelli, brother of Conceatta, Nunzio and Mary. Mass will be said Dec. 15, 9 a.m., Blessed Mother Cabrini church.

Mt. McKinley (aka Manila American Cemetery), Milano, Philapines
Picture from findagrave.com

Quilting your family history

I hope you all had a wonderful and relaxing 4th of July weekend. Of the many things I did this weekend, the one I enjoyed the most was finishing my t-shirt quilt. I started this quilt last summer, and other projects (a quilt for my dog, Millie, and digital scrapbooking) seemed to take precedence.

Why a t-shirt quilt? I started “collecting” t-shirts starting when I was in grade school. Every event I attended, every trip I took, and every school I attended resulted in a t-shirt. Soon there was no room in my dresser or closet, and the t-shirts I could stuff into the dresser never got worn. The t-shirts contained a lot of memories, so I didn’t want to throw them out and I didn’t want to give them away. I read a couple of articles online about creating a t-shirt quilt, and I thought it was the perfect idea. What started as a small project turned into a love for crafting and quilting.

How I made my quilt:

From my stack of about 20 t-shirts, I chose 12.

Requirements for the twelve shirts were:
1) ability to fit the image onto a 12X12” block
2) not too worn
3) didn’t clash completely with my color scheme.

For my background colors, I chose the colors of my family room, burgundy and dark blue. I found the backing at Crate and Barrel Outlet store for $10.

The first half of my t-shirt quilt was sewn by hand….I had never used, nonetheless owned, a sewing machine. Finally, I gave in, read some reviews online, and bought a Brother sewing machine at Wal-Mart for under $90. Using some online video tutorials, I taught myself to use the sewing machine, and finished the quilt. After cutting, piecing, sewing, binding, and quilting here’s the end result:

What does quilting have to do with genealogy?

I never intended for my t-shirt quilt to be a genealogy project. The end result changed my mind. (Hoping my quilt will be passed down to my future children) Each of the twelve “t-shirts”/blocks tells a pretty good story about my background, interests, and hobbies.

The 12 blocks include:
1) Niagara Falls
2) Central High School Softball Jersey
3) Disney World’s Splash Mountain
4) Disney’s Mickey Mouse playing baseball
5) Butler University Marching Band
6) Central Middle School
7) Butler University
8) South Dakota Badlands
9) Central Middle School Volleyball
10) Bowl for Kids' Sake
11) Chicago Bulls Championship Shirt (I’m still wearing my Chicago White Sox and Chicago Blackhawks championship tees….couldn’t cut those)
12) Grade School Softball Jersey

My descendants could use the following adjectives to describe me just by looking at this quilt:

1) Traveler: visiting Niagara Falls, Disney World, and the Badlands in South Dakota
2) Sports Enthusiast: softball, baseball, volleyball, basketball
3) Musical: Played the Saxophone, member of the Butler University Marching Band
4) Student: Central Middle School, Central High School, and Butler University
5) Athletic: Played softball from grade school through high school
6) Volunteer: Bowl for Kids’ Sake
7) Chicagoan: Chicago Bulls
8) Creative
9) Quilter
10) Dog lover (all the remnants of dog hair on the quilt from when Millie tried to help me by sitting on the quilt…)

While these adjectives don’t describe me completely, these words describe me a lot better than my census, birth, or marriage record.
Have some old t-shirts? Give this project a try! If nothing else, it’ll give you a warm blanket to put over your legs while doing genealogy research on those cold nights.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Surname Saturday: Henry Hanxleden, civil war ancestor

In honor of the 4th of July, I am writing today about the family in my tree that has been in the U.S. the longest.  I'd always thought my family were recent immigrants, coming to the U.S. in the late 1800's or early 1900's, so imagine my surprise when I found out one of my ancestors fought in the Civil War.

Henry Hanxleden (also found as Hanxladen, Hauxleden or Hansleden) shares a birthday with me, born August 30, 1819, Köln, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany and died March 19, 1889 in St. Charles, Kane County, Illinois.  Henry married Catherine Maas on October 1, 1946.  They immigrated to the U.S. in June 10, 1852.

Nine years later, Henry became a member of the 8th Illinois Calvary (at age 42) until he mustered out July 17, 1865.  Henry's calvary fought at Gettysburg among many other historic battles.  Henry was a member of the G.A.R. (G.A.R. is the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army who had served in the American Civil War).

In, Passing in Review: Reminiscences of Men Who Have Lived in St. Charles, Pliny A. Durant writes about Henry Hanxleden: 
"Born in Koln, Germany, in 1819, this hard-working son of the "Faderland" became a citizen of St. Charles in 1852.  He never seemed able to master the intricacies of the English language, and as long as he lived it was nearly impossible to understand him when he spoke.  His own language was so peculiar that the very best German scholars in the community with great difficulty understood him. He was an honest, upright man, and during the War of the Rebellion, served his adopted country faithfully.   In after years he was a member of the local G.A.R. post and always seemed proud of his record as a soldier.  He performed many a day's labor on the streets of St. Charles and always seemed to have a special friendship for John F. Elliott, who somehow had a knack of understanding him, which others lacked.  Poor Henry was laid away at last, and another of the characters of the place has since been missing." 
1885 St. Charles, Illinois city directory:

St. Charles North Cemetery:

Henry's daughter, Elenore (Laura) Hanxleden married Killian Krapf.  Their daughter, Emma Amelia Krapf, married Albert Ruebensam, my great great grandpa.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thank you! Gen Wish List and Chicago Family History

Thank you so much to Tina Lyons at Gen Wish List for featuring my blog on her Follow Friday post. Gen Wish List: Follow Friday - Pawprints Guiding Me to the Past . I truly appreciate her kind words.

 A big thank you to Jen at Chicago Family Feature for also featuring my blog on her Follow Friday post: Follow Friday - Two Great Blogs.

Thank you to those of you who have come to check out my blog because of their posts.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Blogging helped me find my great grandfather who was "lost" for 80 years

In a previous post, I described my search for my great grandfather Raymond Mason Peterson.  A comment from hummer led me to find Raymond Peterson.  Her comment included the World War II Army Enlistment Record for a Raymond M Peterson Jr.  Looking further at the record and details, I figured out that it was indeed the Raymond who I've been looking for!  I've searched ancestry for the last 6 months for him, and hummer found him in less than a day.  This record led me to discover more information about Raymond and his family.  I was able to add two more generations to that line on my family tree.  (stay tuned for more information....)

There are a couple of lessons I learned:

1) Blogging really does help you connect with other family members or other people in the genealogical community who are willing to help.  Genealogists and Family Researchers are the friendliest people I've ever worked with or met.  Have an ancestor mystery? Don't have access to a specific database?  Blogging about your brick wall may help you discover the past of your secret ancestor.

2) Sometimes it helps to have someone else look at your tree and search for records.  Sometimes we get so caught up in our own research we forget to look for things....like a world war II enlistment record.  Sometimes we're "stubborn" with our searches.....narrowing our searches down to Peterson, when the census taker might have written it down as Petersen......searching for the surname Morrison when the cursive writing made it look like Monison or Marrison....or thinking there's no way an ancestor could have been born in another city or state....or there's no way an ancestor was married previously...(just a few of examples from my research).  Whenever Brenden or I get stuck or have a brick wall, we'll ask each other to search for the ancestor.  99% of the time, when I look for his ancestor or he looks for my ancestor, we find what we're looking for.

3) Sometimes two letters make all the difference.  Discovering that my Raymond Mason Peterson was a Jr. was the key to discovering his past and where he ended up.

4) It's a small world.....Raymond Peterson died in Sun City, Maricopa County, Arizona.....fifteen minutes from my grandpa's house in Arizona where they moved a few years ago.   

5) The smallest details from your family's stories (or the details they forget to tell you) may be be the key to your next discovery.  When my dad told my grandpa that I found Raymond Peterson and his father who was also Raymond Peterson, and they shared the middle name Mason, my grandpa said, well, that's because Raymond's dad was a freemason....we had never known that fact.  The fact that he was a mason helped me verify an obituary belonged to Raymond's dad.

A BIG thank you to hummer for helping me find Raymond Peterson!