Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday, Findagrave, and Technology Trouble with Family Tree Maker

Every visit to a cemetery includes both pictures of my ancestors' graves as well as pictures of random graves found next to or near my ancestors graves.  My goal this week is to update findagrave.com and add the people and pictures I've taken.  I've finished adding about 75% of the names, but only 40% of the pictures. I've been a member of the findagrave community for 4 months and have added 449 memorials.  I've added 250 pictures (although there may be multiple pictures for one memorial) and completed 5 requests (I'm trying to average at least once a month).  I've started three virtual cemeteries: Melissa's ancestors, Brenden's ancestors, and Possible Ancestors (people that may be related, that I have to research).  So far, Brenden's family has 117 memorials, my family 42, and possible with 140.  Looks like I have some graves to add for my side...

I also utilize an option on findagrave which lets me download a spreadsheet with the names and information from the memorials I have entered.  I love this option, as I use it to compare to my list of pictures taken and list of graves I still need to visit/find.

I've fallen behind in entering the burial locations in my family tree.  Part of the problem is I'm having trouble with the Family Tree Maker software on my computer (Vista), it keeps crashing!  I've followed through the helpful advice I've read online about fixing the problem, but so far no luck.  I'm frustrated as I spent $75 for the deluxe version, after reading many reviews online about it being one of the best.  I love how it has the option of merging duplicates, fixing errors, and printing customized reports.  I wish it had the ability to update as I enter information on ancestry.com family tree or vice versa.  It seems to work fine until I try to upload my ancestry.com gedcom file.  Perhaps there's an error embedded in the file, but I don't know how to fix it without starting all over.  Maybe I have too many people in my tree....lol.... Have you had the same trouble with Family Tree Maker? Were you able to fix the problem? What software would you recommend?

Here's today's tombstone:

I found this tombstone to be extremely interesting (note: I am not related).  Tombstone found in Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hilliside, Cook, Illinois.

Woodmen of the World Memorial
John Vacco, died June 18, 1916, age 43
Domenico Vacco, died June 18, 1916, age 14
Maggie Vacco, died June 18, 1916, age 9

I was curious, what did "Woodmen of the World Memorial" mean? Why had this family died all on the same day?  So I did a little research....According to Wikipedia, Woodmen of the World,
"is a fraternal organization based in Omaha, Nebraska, United States, that operates a large privately held insurance company for its members.  Its history includes the erection of numerous distinctive tombstones depicting tree stumps across the country prior to 1930, a program to donate flags, and broadcast interests...There are 2,000 community based Woodmen of the World (WOW) lodges throughout the nation.  Lodges conduct volunteer, patriotic, and charitable activities that benefit the community and its members."
I haven't found the obituaries or any information about the Vacco family and why they all passed on the same day.

Monday, June 28, 2010

More Sources of Background Research: Yearbooks, Gravestones, Heirlooms, and more

Today's post on Jen's Family History Research Tips Blog  is entitled, Background Information Research.  Jen describes some great sources for background research including newspaper articles, search engines, and books.  Jen asks for other sources used for background research, so here's the sources I've used (I've excluded the items Jen describes so well in her blog)

Other sources I've used for background research include:

1) Yearbooks (found at the library in the city/county of your ancestor, online, or even on ebay)  I found a great picture of Brenden's father in his yearbook online.  It also had his senior year quote, which provided some further insight

2) City/County History Centers--The Iroquois County Historical Society has a biography on two of my Ruebensam ancestors on its website.  I haven't seen the biographies in print anywhere else

3) Family photographs--not just looking at the people, but their outfits, cars, houses, etc.  Tells you a little bit for about the family than just what they looked like

4) Gravestones---I found out that Brenden's great grandfather was a freemason by the symbol on his gravestone.  Brenden's great grandmother has the Order of the Eastern Star symbol on her grave.  You may find other fraternal organization symbols or other symbols that may tell you about your family's background.  Not just symbols, but military participation as well.  Through a gravestone, I found out my ancestor fought in World War II.  I hadn't found a record on ancestry for him, but found it on his gravestone

5) Religious Organizations/Churches---Brenden's family is a lot more religious than mine is, and I've been able to find old church newsletters that have pictures of the family (more recent newsletters) and stories about how the family participated in a community event. 

6) Family Scrapbooks---I haven't been luck enough to find such a resource, but as the family historian for my family, I've started the scrapbook and hope it will passed on through many generations.

7) Obituaries--I've found out so much about my ancestors just by reading their obituaries 

8) Family Heirlooms--What has been passed down from generation to generation?  Obviously the item was important enough to be passed on.  What relevance did the item have to the family and their way of life?  My favorite heirloom is my grandmother's gold chain that has her first initial "M".  As I was the only person in the family with a first name starting with "M", I received the chain after she passed away.  We also have costume jewelry from my great grandmother, as she was a seamstress for some of the silent films

I'm sure there are more items I'm forgetting at this moment, but these are my top 8.  Do you have any additions to the list?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

95th Carnival Of Genealogy "The Annual Swimsuit Competition": Swimsuits from the past, Let's Hear it for embarrassing myself

My first posting for the Carnival of Genealogy!  This month's theme is "The Annual Swimsuit Competition".

It was so much fun going through my stack of photos looking for swimsuit pictures of my ancestors.  While the two photos I found of my ancestors on the beach were not in a bathing suits.....unless bathing suits have changed that dramatically... I found it remarkable seeing the changes over time.  Here's my family's bathing suits from 1909 to 2008:

Depicted below is Clarence and Elizabeth Brown (nee Galligan) and child, my great grandma, Ruth Margaret Brown.  Ruth was born in 1908, so this picture is taken in 1909, most likely on the beaches of Lake Michigan in Chicago, IL.

 My grandma:  1950's vs. 2008
Unknown location, circa 1950's

Phoenix, Arizona, 2008

While pictures of my ancestors in bathing suits is limited, I have plenty of myself in bathing suits....I'm sure my future descendants will be proud...lol.  So while, I'm younger (26) than most genealogists and people interested in family history, here's a view of swimsuits in the 1980's in Illinois for your viewing pleasure and my personal embarrassment:

Yep, that's me with the squirt gun....also pictured is my mom and two sisters, 1987

Me...climbing the ladder, other three children unknown, 1988

Taking the plunge, 1988
Cheap sprinkler fun in front of the house...me in front, followed by neighborhood friends and my two sisters, 1990.    
We made up a game for the sprinkler, sort of like HORSE for basketball or Truth or Dare...whatever the one person in the sprinkler did, the others had to follow....no matter how silly or crazy.  Memories...

Graveyard Rabbits Carnival: All items found for Scavenger Hunt

This is my first blog contribution to a blog carnival.

Today's post is for The Graveyard Rabbit's Scavenger Hunt Carnival.
"Like a traditional scavenger hunt, the object is to find as many items as you can from the list below. In our case, those “items” are to be found in the cemetery"
To make my entry creative and special, all of the below images are either of Brenden or my ancestors...no random graves.  All pictures taken by me between May and June 2010.

The first image is my great great grandfather's gravestone.  Clarence Clifton Brown (1882-1962).  His grave is located in Queen of Heaven Cemetery, Hillside, Cook County, Illinois.  Three items from the scavenger hunt: Cross (there's actually two...bonus points...lol), Heart, and Hand (two hands too...)

The next picture is my great grandmother's gravestone (daughter of Clarence Clifton Brown).  Ruth Margaret Brown (1908-1992).  On this gravestone you'll find flowers and a cross. Her grave is located in Queen of Heaven Cemetery, Hillside, Cook County, Illinois.

This picture is the gravestone of Brenden's great grandmother, Bertha A. Wagner Myers Minnick (1881-1954).  On this grave you'll find one of the scavenger list items, a star, as Bertha was a member of the Order of Eastern Star. This grave is located at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, Oswego, Kane/Kendall County, Illinois.

The next picture is the grave of Brenden's great grandmother, Peter Buchanan Morrison. Peter was a freemason, and on his grave you'll find the next scavenger hunt item, a fraternal symbol...the symbol of the masons.This grave is located at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, Oswego, Kane/Kendall County, Illinois.

The next picture is the grave of my third great uncle, Joseph McCarron.  Joseph McCarron was in the US Navy in World War II, and you'll find the next item, a military grave.  This gravestone was found in Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Hillside, Cook County, Illinois

The next grave is that of Brenden's great uncle, Israel Rogers.  Israel was the first bishop of the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints in Kendall County, Illinois.  There is a monument in Pine Mound Cemetery in Sandwich, Kendall County, Illinois, for him, the next scavenger hunt item.

The grave of Dominick Censotti, my cousin, who's life was tragically ended in a car accident just short of his 17th birthday, contains the next scavenger hunt item, a bird.  His grave was found at St. Michael the Archangel Cemetery in Palatine, Cook County, Illinois.

The next is my second cousin, Brett Humphries, who's life was ended due to a genetic disease.  His gravestone contains the next items: Angel and
4-legged animal. His grave is located in St. Michael the Archangel cemetery, Palatine, Cook County, Illinois. 

Ok, so if a beanie baby doesn't count as a 4-legged animal, the next picture is that of my grandmother, Mildred P. Vitraelli.  My grandma's grave contains a lamb, a 4-legged animal.  Her grave is located in St. Michael the Archangel cemetery, Palatine, Cook County, Illinois.

Only a couple more to go....

The next image is from the Mausoleum at Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Hillside, Cook County, Illinois. (At the bottom, center) Lucy and Leonard Vitraelli are my great grandparents.

The next image contains trees, the next item.  These trees were located in Mount Carmel Cemetery near the graves of my ancestors.  I hope this isn't cheating....I couldn't find an image of a tree on any of the gravestones...

Another grave from Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Hillside, Cook County, Illinois, is the my great great grandparents, Maria and Nunziato D'Orazio.  Their gravestone contains photos.
And last....the hardest one to find for my family, is the grave of Jennie Weldon Hall, Brenden's great great (add more greats) grandma....an obelisk....well kind of.  This grave was found at Oak Ridge Cemetery, Sandwich, Kendall County, Illinois.

And that's all of them! :)

Adding one more item to the list.....grave with the most amount of names.  Below is the grave of the Quinn family.  Not blood related, but married into the family.  The grave contains 8 names, the most of the one's I've seen so far.  This grave is located at Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Hillside, Cook County, Illinios

Friday, June 25, 2010

Follow Friday: Great Resources from new blog, Family History Tips

Today's Follow Friday posting is dedicated to Jen's Family History Tips blog. Jen's blog provides tips for finding your family history. A lot of her postings have been focused on finding Chicago ancestors, which I find very helpful, as the majority of my ancestors are from Chicago. Even though I don't live far from Chicago (and even work in Chicago), I find there are many resources I still don't know about.

My favorite posting...which was hard to choose, there were many...is Women and the Naturalization Process.

This posting describes Jen's search for a female ancestor who was repatriated, even though she was born in Chicago. Jen highlights a wonderful article and resource from KindredConnections entitled “Where are they? Finding Your Ancestors’ US Naturalization Records.” I learned that due to an act passed in 1907, a women's nationality depended on her husband's nationality. So if the husband lost or gained citizenship, so did she.

I have a female ancestor in my line to which this applies to, but I could never figure out why. Thanks to Jen's posting, I now know why.

Keep up the great posts, I know I will continue reading.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Touchdown Thursday: Brother Trouble? Finding Ancestors on Land Ownership Maps

Today's Touchdown Thursday post is about two touchdowns I made this week using one of the latest and greatest indexes available through Ancestry, the "U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918".

Using Ancestry's searchable index, I was able to locate where some of my ancestors owned land in Illinois.

Chemung Township, McHenry, Illinois in 1872

Highlighted orange in the map above is the land owned by M. Kizer (aka Morris Kizer). Morris Kizer is my fourth great grandfather on my paternal side. He was born about 1811 in New Jersey and migrated to Illinois with his brothers, Warren, Jacob, and Morgan. Jacob's land is depicted in green, and Warren's land is depicted in blue.
Morris and his wife, Maria, were the parents of my third great grandma, Frances Kizer, who married Richard George Brown. There are many Brown's that owned land in Chemung Township. Richard and his father, Joseph Brown, owned land in Chemung, although I have not determined if any of the Browns on this map are my Browns.
I wonder why Morris Kizer's land is so much further away from his two brothers?

Papineau, Iroquois County, Illinois in 1904

Pictured above (in orange) is the land of G. Rubensam (aka Gottfried Rubensam or Ruebensam). Gottfried is the brother of my third great grandfather, August Ruebensam (aka Ruebenson). Gottfried and August immigrated to the U.S. from Germany on the same ship in 1873. Gottfried migrated to Iroquois County, while his brother, August, migrated to Cook County.

I wonder why August and Gottfried went their separate ways?

Looks like there could be some brother trouble in my past. Guess I should be glad I have two sisters, instead of brothers...lol

Source of maps:
Ancestry.com. U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: Various publishers of County Land Ownership Atlases. Microfilmed by the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Mystery Solved: Disappearance of Eugene Gardos (Part 3)

Continued from yesterday:

Eugene Gardos left his family in 1929 never to be heard from again………that was until Eugene’s great grandson, David, (from his first wife) and I (Eugene’s great granddaughter from his third “wife”) made an ancestry.com connection.

A few months ago I received a message on ancestry.com from David. He noticed that we had posted the same passenger list record to our family trees. He contacted me to determine if our two great grandpas, Eugene Gardos were the same person.

1922 Passenger List, Hungary to U.S.

At first our connection seemed unlikely. My Eugene Gardos had a birthdate of 1891 (which was estimated from a census record), and his Eugene Gardos had a birthdate of 1884. David’s Eugene Gardos showed up in the 1930 Federal Census in New York, while my Eugene Gardos showed up in the 1930 Federal Census in Chicago.

1930 Federal Census, New York, New York, Eugene Gardos and family

1920 Federal Census, Chicago, Illinois, Eugene Gardos and family

Despite these challenges, we kept digging. David shared a story with me his family story about how Eugene Gardos was in the movie business, and had helped Vilma Banky come to the U.S. to get a movie contract with Sam Goodwyn. Then, I told him my story about Vilma Banky…..now we were curious!! Could they really be the same guy, despite the differences in birthdates and census records?

Vilma Banky (1901-1991), Hungarian Actress

Our next step was to share pictures. David had a picture of Eugene Gardos and his family circa 1920 (posted in Part 1 of this blog). We also had the picture of Eugene in his U.S. passport photo (posted in Part 2 of this blog). My family supposedly has pictures of Eugene, but they have yet to be found.

While my grandma, Eugene’s daughter was deceased, her brother, Arthur is still alive. His wife, my aunt, and my cousins on Arthur’s side have seen the picture of Eugene. My family knew I was doing genealogy research on the family, so during my sister’s bridal shower I showed them a couple pictures of family members. Two of the pictures I showed were Eugene’s passport photo and the picture David had shared with me. I actually showed them a bunch of pictures, some related and some not related, and asked them if any seemed familiar....so they couldn't just think it looked like him.

Both Arthur’s wife, Ginny, her two daughters, and my uncle confirmed that the passport photo and the picture David sent, matched the pictures they've seen of Eugene Gardos. They said the only difference in the pictures was that he didn't have a mustache, as most of the pictures they saw of him, he had a mustache.

Talking about Eugene more stories about the family came out. Eugene was in the textile business….his passport application includes a letter from his textile company. Eugene’s third “wife” always told the family that their marriage record was lost or burnt, although my family was always suspicious. I have not found a marriage certificate. Ginny told me that Marie and Eugene were 18 years apart, and they probably lied about their ages in the 1930 Federal Census in Chicago. The 1930 Federal Census of Chicago also stated that my grandma, Mildred, was born in Illinois, when she was actually born in New York. I never knew she was born in New York.

The story began to piece together. Someday, somehow, and somewhere in New York Eugene and Marie were introduced to each other. They had an affair, Eugene was still married to his second wife. Marie got pregnant and had my grandma, Mildred in 1927. Eugene kept the affair and the birth a secret from his other family. During that time, Eugene and his wife Theresa had two kids, Elsa and Robert. The affair continued and Marie got pregnant again in 1929. Only this time, the stock market crashed, and proved to be a good time to run away from his marriage. Him and Marie ran away with their daughter, Mildred, and moved to Chicago where Arthur was born. They remained in Chicago, not able to get married, as Eugene was technically still married. Five years later, Eugene died from a heart attack…maybe all the stress from running away from his family or leading this double life? Meanwhile, in New York, Eugene’s wife didn’t know what happened to Eugene, and when it came time for the 1930 Census, a year after he disappeared, she included him as part of the family.

While the story is just a guess about what actually happened, it matches the family stories and historical records. While his wife, Theresa is deceased, Eugene’s daughter, Elsa, and my great uncle, Arthur are still living….discovering they have half siblings 81 years later. It seems like a movie…..

While I feel horrible for Eugene’s wife and family he left behind, if he had never had the affair with Marie and moved to Chicago, my grandma wouldn’t have been born, my grandma would never have met her husband, my mom would never have been born, and I wouldn’t be here today.

As Brad Paisley sings, “To me it’s all so clear, every one of us is here, all because two people fell in love…”

I thank David for reaching out to me and helping me discover the mystery of Eugene Gardos…I would never have known his birth name was Goldberger. I am so glad I was able to help David solve the mystery of the disappearance of his great grandfather, Eugene Gardos.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mystery Solved? The Disappearance of Eugene Gardos (Part 2)

Continued from yesterday:

Here’s my story of Eugene Gardos:

Eugene Gardos and Marie Cicero were 18 years apart. They were never married, to anyone’s knowledge, and had two children. Their first child, Mildred Gardos (my grandmother) was born in New York in 1927. Marie was pregnant with their second child, Arthur, in 1929 when they moved from New York to Chicago where Arthur was born. Eugene died of a heart attack in 1935. He always said he had a bad heart from the war, but the family never had record or knowledge of him serving in a war. Eugene was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois. His death record was found under the name, Eugene Jacob Gardor.

How Eugene and Marie met, and Eugene's past were very secretive. The only story anyone knew about Eugene, was that he helped Hungarian actress, Vilma Banky, get a contract with Sam Goodwyn from MGM. Whenever the past was brought up with Marie, she would get extremely mad and defensive. She wouldn't talk about the past and in one incidence called her daughter, Mildred, crazy for wanting to find out about the past.

Marie Cicero Gardos remarried John Malouf a few years later. John Malouf adopted Marie and Eugene's two children, Mildred and Arthur, and the two kids took on the Malouf surname.
Marie died in 1979 before anyone ever found out the truth.

Tomorrow, in the third and last part of the Eugene Gardos mystery, I’ll tell you how Eugene’s great grandson and I made our startling connection and pieced together the mystery of Eugene Gardos.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mystery Solved? The disappearance of Eugene Jacob Gardos (part 1)

Eugene Jacob Goldberger (aka Eugene Jacob Gardos) was my great grandfather, father of my maternal grandmother.

This is the story of Eugene, as told to me by Eugene's great grandson in 2010:

Eugene Jacob Goldberger was born March 1, 1885 in Turja Remete, Hungary (now part of the Ukraine). He came to the U.S. in 1910, with his wife and two sons, and lived in Omaha, Nebraska. He changed his name from Goldberger to Gardos, as Goldberger was "too Jewish". In Nebraska, Eugene's wife gave birth to a daughter. The family moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, during World War I and eventually made their way to New York. In route, Eugene's wife died during childbirth (the child also died).

Eugene remarried and they had 2 children together. The family story is that Eugene apparently had quite a bit of wealth (probably illegally gotten) during the 1920's. Eugene Gardos was arrested for bootlegging, and tried to escape the law. He obtained a U.S. passport and left the country in 1921. He was arrested upon his return in 1922. {Here's a NY Times article from 1922 describing his re-arrest from that trip, after he previously had jumped bail.}

Eugene was in the movie business, and financed a movie in Hungary, based on a famous Hungarian classic novel ("Pal Utcai Fiuk." -- means "The Boys of Paul Street").
The family story is that Eugene Gardos helped Hungarian actress, Vilma Banky get a contract with Sam Goodwyn (of MGM) in 1925. {note: Vilma Banky's story can be found on wikipedia, her immigration record matches the family story. She arrived in 1925, and she did indeed get a contract with Sam Goodwyn. Eugene Gardos isn't mentioned on the page}

Eugene disappeared from his family in 1929, never to be heard of again.......

Tomorrow, I'll tell you my story about Eugene Gardos and how I developed a connection with family, 81 years later.

Tombstone Tuesday: The Browns, Galligans, RAOGK, and Findagrave

In yesterday's post I described my search for Raymond Peterson, husband of Ruth Margaret Brown. Today I'll continue with that family line and post pictures of Ruth Margaret Brown's grave as well as her parents, Clarence Clifton Brown (no, not the ice cream sundae guy...) and Elizabeth Brown (nee Galligan).

All three are interred at the beautiful Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, Cook County, Illinois, and are also posted on Findagrave. Luckily, Queen of Heaven and a couple of other Catholic cemeteries in Chicago have a computer kiosk in which you can search for your ancestor and get a print out of the exact location where he or she is buried.

Ruth Margaret Brown 1908-1992

Whenever I go to a cemetery, I not only take photos of the graves I am looking for, but also a couple (ok...more than a couple) graves nearby. I post them on findagrave, and hopefully, others who are searching for their family, can find them. I am thankful for all of the contributers and volunteers at findagrave. I've received pictures of graves located in different states across the country.

When I'm not searching for family or posting on findagrave, I also volunteer through Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) to take pictures of tombstones from Queen of Heaven and Mount Carmel Cemetery and do free obituary look-ups in the Historical Chicago Tribune Database. If you live in Chicago or a suburb of Chicago and have access to a library card, you may also have access to this rich source of information. I can access it free from the comfort of my home through my local library's website. The database contains obits from the mid-1800's to 1989. A quick call or visit to your local library or its website to determine if you can access the database may help end your search for that elusive ancestor.

Elizabeth Brown nee Galligan 1886-1954

Clarence Clifton Brown 1882-1962

Note: All three pictures taken by me, April 2010, Queen of Heaven Cemetery, Hillside, Illinois

Monday, June 21, 2010

Madness Monday: Run-away father, Raymond Mason Peterson

A BIG thank you to Thomas MacEntee from GeneaBloggers who highlighted my blog in his Saturday blog post. Another BIG welcome and thank you to all of you who took the time to click the link and check out my blog. I welcome any comments and suggestions.


My grandfather's father, Raymond Mason Peterson, left the family soon after my grandpa was born. His maternal grandparents, Clarence and Elizabeth Brown (nee Galligan) adopted him as his birth mother, Ruth Margaret Brown was having trouble raising him alone during the great depression. My grandpa was an only child. After he was adopted, my grandpa took on the Brown name (maiden name of his birthmom). Although my grandpa is still alive, bringing up the past is difficult for him, and getting family stories or history from him is worse than pulling teeth.

Raymond and Ruth, August 1925, Chicago, IL
I've been able to locate a lot of information on the Brown side of the family, as well as the Galligan family, but I have not been able to find Raymond Peterson or his family.

Raymond and Ruth, September 1925, Chicago, IL

Here's what I know:
  • Raymond Mason Peterson was born around 1908
  • Raymond's nickname was "Ray"
  • Raymond and Ruth Margaret Brown were married in Chicago, IL, between 1924-1929
  • In August and September 1925, Raymond and Ruth are together in a picture in front of a building, address: 2634 W 15th Place, Chicago, IL
  • Raymond and Ruth's first and only child was born in 1930 (*details left off, as son is still living)
  • Raymond and Ruth were divorced between 1930-1937
  • Raymond's brother owned the Peterson Funeral Home in Chicago, IL
  • Raymond owned a tent and awning shop in Chicago, IL

Raymond and Ruth, August 1925, Chicago, IL

I don't know when he died, if he moved, or if he remarried, or his exact date of birth

Here's where I've looked:

  • Chicago City Directories. I've found many Raymond or Ray Peterson's but are they my Raymond?
  • Obituaries from Chicago Tribune....found over 20 with the name Raymond or Ray Peterson. I've been able to narrow it down to a couple, due to ages
  • I've contacted the Peterson Funeral Home in Chicago via email to request information---no return email.
  • Social Security Death Index (SSDI)--found a couple, best match shows he died in Arizona.

My plans:

  • Request a copy of Raymond and Ruth's marriage and divorce record
  • Re-contact Peterson Funeral Home via phone

Any other suggestions? Please let me know.

Pictures courtesy of Ruth Margaret Brown's family photo album

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day: Prolific Fathers

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings has posted his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.   Randy's writes:

Your mission for Father's Day, if you decide to accept it, is to:

1) Determine who is one of the most prolific fathers in your genealogy database or in your ancestry. By prolific, I mean the one who fathered the most children.

2) Tell us about him in your own blog post, ...

John Rufus Joyce, father of 18 children

John Rufus Joyce, father of 18 children

Happy Father's Day!!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Follow Friday: Lisa Louise Cooke, my genealogy hero

Lisa Louise Cooke and her podcasts, especially, Family History Genealogy Made Easy, inspired me to create this blog. Her detailed instructions, friendly suggestions, and caring attitude caught my attention when looking for the perfect genealogy podcast for my hour ride to work. I've only made it to Episode #43, averaging 3-4/day, but have learned so much.

I finished Episode #43 "How the Calendar Changes Through History Affect Your Research" today on my way to work, and out of all of the podcasts I've listened to so far, this one has been the most educational and helpful. Episode #43's topic was about the historical calendar and how the calendar has changed over time.

I never knew the calendar change affected records in the United States! I learned that in 1752 the calendar went from March 25th being the first of the year to January 1st being the first of the year. I always thought 1735/6 meant my ancestor was born in 1735 or 1736, no one really knew which year was correct. Now I know that 1735 indicates the old system (OS) and 1736 indicates the new system (NS). An ancestor with a birthdate of 12/18/1733 would have actually been born February 18, 1733 (February 18, 1734 in new system), not December 18, 1733. I'll have to go back and look at all of my ancestors that have dates before 1752.

To make matters worse, I also have family from Italy, but they changed their calendar back in the 1500's, and I haven't found family that far back.....yet.......

A big thank you to Lisa Louise Cooke and her great work in the genealogy field. If you are new to the genealogy field or just want an excellent podcast about genealogy, I would highly recommend her podcast, Family History Genealogy Made Easy.

Touchdown Thursday: Finding tombstone of Paul K Joyce

I'm creating a new daily genealogy blog theme, Touchdown Thursday.

Touchdown Thursday is dedicated to those yay! and hooray! moments in my family history search....those ancestors that seem to hide from me but somehow I find....those brick walls that I can finally take down....

I'd love for you to join me on Thursdays, and tell me how you managed to tear down a brick wall, find a missing piece, hit a homerun, or score a touchdown.

This week's touchdown moment was finally finding the grave for Brenden's uncle, Paul Keith Joyce.

From his obituary and family attending his funeral, I knew he was buried in Spring Lake Cemetery in Aurora, Illinois.
  • I left messages on the cemetery's voicemail 5 times (office only open a couple hours during the week) and never got a call back.
  • I searched Kane County's cemetery index online and found a liitle more info....he was buried in the RG section. I took a ride to the cemetery and found all the sections marked... Except for RG section. The other sections were marked east and west, so where was this mysterious section?
  • I checked online for a map, no luck.
  • I tried the cemetry office, closed.
  • I found an internet posting saying that RG stands for Rear Grotto. So, I took another trip to the cemetery and went to the rear. The rear of the cemetery was being renovated and there were dirt piles everywhere, I got upset thinking they had dug up Brenden's uncle!
  • Brenden was also upset so he called his dad. His dad told us we were looking in the wrong section...sigh of relief....he was near the front of the cemetery about 100 yards from the fence.
  • We got excited and went to take a look, it just happened to be Memorial Day weekend and Paul was a veteran.

Paul Joyce wasn't 100 yards from the fence near the front, as his dad had promised, he was in the middle of the cemetery in the Rose Garden (RG).

The only reason we finally found him was by searching for graves with American flags in unmarked sections of the cemetery. A lot of searching, but it finally paid off!

Touchdown, score one for me, I found Paul Keith Joyce!

Picture by Melissa Brown, May 30, 2010, Spring Lake Cemetery, Aurora, Kane, Illinois, Section: Rose Garden (RG)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Scrapbook Family Tree

Brenden and me

My grandparents, circa 1996, from the left: my maternal grandparents: Nunzio Vitraelli, Mildred Vitraelli (nee Malouf) and my paternal grandparents: Lorraine Brown (nee Ruebenson) and George Brown

My parents, Rick and Karen, who celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary this past April.

My immediate family...clockwise from my dad (the only male in the picture): Rick (dad), Melissa (me), Karen (mom), Diana (sister), and Christina (sister) Brown.

Pictures and scrapbook pages developed by Melissa Brown (me), 2009-2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: D'Orazio Family in Chicago, Illinois

I love tombstones with pictures! Above is a picture of the tombstone for my great great grandparents: Maria D'Orazio (nee Di Bartolomeo) and Nunziato (aka Annunziato) D'Orazio and three of their children. This is the only picture I have seen of either of them. Nunziato and Maria had three other children, Lucia "Lucy" Vitraelli (my great grandma), buried in another location of the cemetery, and Josephine "Jo" Ragagli and Vincenzo D'Orazio, both buried in an unknown location. The D'Orazio's were originally from Alfadena, Region: Abruzzo, Province: L'Aquila, Italy. Nunziato arrived at Ellis Island in New York in 1899. Maria and her children arrived later in 1905. I assume Nunziato travelled to Italy between 1900-1905, as one son was born in 1903, although I have not found records to prove that assumption. The family later moved to Chicago, Illinois.
Tombstone is located in Mout Carmel Cemetery, Hillside, Cook County, Illinois
(Picture taken by me in April 2010)
Tombstone reads:
Alfred [D'Orazio]
Michele [D'Orazio]
Nunziato [D'Orazio]
Maria [D'Orazio nee Di Bartolomeo]
James C [D'Orazio]
Margaret ["Marge" D'Orazio, nee Fuoco, wife of James]

Monday, June 14, 2010

Madness Monday: The Search for Peter Morrison

Brenden's great grandpa, Peter Buchanan Morrison, immigrated to the United States from Scotland in 1903. Through a contact in Scotland, I was able to find him in the 1901 and 1891 Census of Scotland in Falkirk, Scotland. Through Ancestry, I was able to find him in the 1930 U.S. Federal census in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio, and also found him on a passenger list in 1903. I also found him in the Naturalization index in Cleveland, Ohio on Ancestry in 1907, and also found him in some of the city directories in Joliet, Illinois and Aurora, Illinois where he eventually moved to after 1930. I also found his marriage record to Gladys Olga Wagner in the Cuyahoga County Probate Court Historical Marriage Index and was able to request and receive the record from Cuyahoga County (for free!).

Where is Peter from the time of his naturalization in Cleveland in 1907 and his residence in Cleveland in 1930??? Peter was proving to be quite elusive in the 1910 and 1920 federal census.

That was until I received Peter's marriage record. I was surprised to learn he had been married previously. I had always been looking for Peter as a single male. No mention of Peter's first marriage was ever mentioned to the family. It made sense, him and his second wife were over 10 years apart in age. The date of his divorce was listed on his marriage record, so I contacted the Clerk of Courts Office in Cuyahoga County to request a copy of his divorce record. At the time, I did not know the name of Peter's first wife.

While waiting for the divorce record, I decided to look for Peter once again in the 1910 and 1920 census. There were two Peter Morrison's in Cleveland, Ohio in 1910. One record showed a Peter Morrison born in Scotland, but with a birthdate that was pretty far off, and was a carpenter. The other record showed a Peter Morrison born in Pennsylvania, a lodger, with a birthdate in the correct year, and a salesman. Both Peter's were married. We knew Peter had been a butcher. The record of Peter as a carpenter wasn't looking right, but the Peter as a salesman could be him. I still couldn't find him in the 1920 census, so I decided to look into the two wives listed on the records. I found carpenter Peter and his wife....that record helped prove it wasn't the right Peter. Then, I found salesman Peter and his wife....but it took a little creative searching. His wife in the 1910 census was listed as Olive. The wife listed in 1920 was Oline, and the last name of Manison. When I looked at the actual census record, I discovered a transcription error. It was Olive Morrison and Peter B Morrison! Looking at the occupation, it showed Peter as a butcher, born in Scotland, immigration in 1903! (although, the birthdate was incorrect, about 6 years off) With the spelling inaccuracy and the incorrect birthdate, no wonder I could never find him.

What shocked me even more, was that the record showed Peter had two kids in his first marriage, Margaret and Olive Morrison. The four children from Peter's second wife had never known he had other children. I wanted to find more about his two children and first wife, so I looked on Ancestry and found that his first wife had gotten remarried, his two kids were both married twice, and all three are deceased. Through their obituaries, I discovered his two children both had children....that are still alive.

The questions have changed from where was Peter between 1907-1930, but now.....should we try to contact Peter's newly found grandchildren? After all these years, do they want to know about their four half siblings? Why did Peter leave his first wife? Why didn't Peter mention his two children to his other four children?
I don't know if we'll ever have the answers, but maybe the divorce record will help. Until then, the madness continues.......

Friday, June 11, 2010

How did I get started in genealogy?

I'm love listening to genealogy podcosts, helps my hour car ride to work seem shorter, so I'll start this blog the way Kory Meyerink starts his interviews, "How did you get started in genealogy?"

During the Christmas shopping season last year I started looking for my significant other's, Brenden, family crest. With a surname of Joyce, I thought it would be pretty easy. Then, I discovered there were multiple crests depending on what country and town his family originated. I started to research his family, hoping to complete my search in a month or two, trying to determine where his family originated. (All while trying to keep my search a secret from Brenden, hard to get information from his family members without him finding out...)

Well, as you probably guessed, or know from experience, the search turned into a much larger genealogy project, as I expanded my search to my family. I purchased an ancestry.com subscription for myself for Christmas, and I got Brenden involved in the search. Now we are both addicted to genealogy and finding our roots.

We still haven't been able to prove what part of the world his family originated. We're pretty certain his family was from Ireland, but records of the Joyce family have also been found in England and Scotland. We were able to trace his line of Joyce's back to the early 1700's in the United States, in Virginia and South Carolina, connected with some long lost relatives, found published genealogies and pictures about his family, census records, graves, and wills, but from there the search has gone cold. We'll keep at it, along with the rest of our family lines. Once you start, you can't stop. I am addicted and loving every minute of it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Introduction and background

Welcome to my blog, and join me in my adventures to discover my family history and genealogy with the help of my laborador-hound mix, Millie.

We all leave records, proof of our existence, or "paw prints", during different stages of our lives. Some leave more records than others. Some have been destroyed or have gone "missing" through the years. Some are in different languages or "creative" handwriting. At the minimum, there's records of our birth and eventually our death. Often, there's marriage or census records. Other times there are city directories, pictures, newspaper articles, or maybe even a video, a recipe, a tradition, or a story. Sometimes there's even immigration and naturalization records.

My goal is to find these records and use them as a guide to follow my family's "paw prints" as far back (and sideways) as I can. Using the records, I'll try to piece together the lives of my ancestors to discover who they really were.