Friday, April 23, 2010

Follow Friday - Witter's Deutsch Englische Schrieb und Lese Bibel

For those of you who are interested in old German handwriting I suggest a 95-page publication by the Indiana German Heritage Society titled Witter's Deutsch Englische Schrieb und Lese Bibel.

I bought this at the Fort Wayne Oktoberfest a few years ago for $7, but the Society's website is showing it for $5.

This book is a reprint of Witter's 1881 edition of German - English Primer. The German immigrants who came to the United States made an effort to hold on to their native tongue and culture by providing German education for their children, but in 1919 with the United States just coming out of World War 1 this educational practice was put to a stop when the Indiana General Assembly forbade the teaching of German in school. You will read about this in the introductory notes to this reprint.

I have found this book to be invaluable in reading and deciphering old German handwriting and for learning how to write it myself. The book deals with both written script and printed.

As the title suggests this is a German - English primer so words are both in German and English. I have a knowledge of German and a basic knowledge of German script so I find the book easy to use, but for those who know nothing about German it might be a little more challenging because even though words are in English, you might not understand the German enough to know what the letters are in script. A German dictionary at your side will be helpful in this case, so that you can see the German words in modern print.

This book has helped me to understand and more readily read even the modern handwriting of my German friends which has a distinctive characteristic look different from here in the United States even though the alphabet is the same.

For $5 or even 7 I find it well worth the price and it supports the Indiana German Heritage Society.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Does anyone know what happened to the site This site used to be a very handy site of volunteers who took photographs of gravestones at the request of people searching their genealogy. I hadn't been to the site in some time and now that I go there I get redirected to a yellow pages for monument dealers.
Did it die?
Fade away from lack of volunteers or interest?
Get swallowed up in another website?
If you know, please leave a message.

Things to take to the Genealogy Library

Getting to the Fort Wayne Library for me is not a long drive, but it does take planning so that when I get there, I don't think "Oh, I forgot to bring _____________. My time is going to be wasted, or I won't be able to do the work I planned." So here is my list of things to remember to bring when making a trip to any genealogy library.

1. Paper and pen or pencil
2. Flash drive, Flash drive, flash drive!
3. Camera - I like to get through as many books as I can when I get to the library and leave the sorting and musing to when I get home. Taking photos of book entries is a lot easier and faster than photocopying or writing out every little sentence. With a digital camera I can make sure the photo is in focus immediately. I also take a picture of the title page of the book so I know where the entries are found.
4. Computer - Although I hate to carry around that laptop, it is a lot easier to look up names, dates and places in my genealogy database than my actual printed pedigree.
5. Printed genealogy information. Sometimes things just go wrong. Maybe all the computer spots are taken, or there is a problem with connection, or your computer has chosen this moment to die. Having your printed genealogy is a great backup for those times.
6. Because I hate to carry things, I'd rather pull them, so a luggage carrier or rolling suitcase with all my things neatly arranged inside. I learned this trick just yesterday when I saw someone else doing it. I have a nice little rolling backpack that I bought at a thrift shop long time ago that is now repurposed for just this.

What do you like to take with you for a trip to the genealogy library?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Daniel Boone was a man . . .

Yes, a big man, with an eye like an eagle and as tall as a mountain was he.

Who remembers that song and television series? I think probably a great many of you. I love that show. And a cute tow-headed boy named Darby Hinton played Daniel's son Israel.

Darby is all grown up now with a family of his own and is bringing history alive once again with his own reality series called Hinton's Living History.

I don't have satellite or cable television, so I have never seen the show, but its premise is something close to my heart. Check out his website and also his introductory video. It looks great.
Me at the reconstructed Fort Boonesborough in Kentucky (It's up the hill from the original site, which is on the river's edge and possibly under water.)

 UPDATE: I just checked (5/2013) the above links and they no longer work. I can't find his website anymore, but you can still see the videos on youtube by doing a search there.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I'm My Own Grandpa

My father always enjoyed silly humor and Ray Stevens' songs were in that category. I still enjoy getting a good laugh from Ray Stevens. I recently learned of a song by him called "I'm My Own Grandpa". I link to one video of it in the title here, but you can go to and search for it. A lot of different videos will come up featuring that song.

Give it a listen and try to sort out the relationships. It's silly and fun.

If you do not know who Ray Stevens is and you enjoy silly humor you are in for a treat. There are lots of other videos up of his as well. I enjoy listening to them as well.

Friday, April 2, 2010

How has knowing your genealogy influenced your life?

Almost all of the persons interviewed in the episodes of Who Do You Think You Are say the same thing after discovering their family history - "This has changed who I thought I was." Really? In what way? Are you not the same person you were before searching your roots? Does an apple tree start producing pears if it suddenly finds itself grafted onto pear tree roots when all along it thought - I'm an apple tree. I have apple roots.

I'm sure that the producers insist that somewhere in their search, the celebrities avouch these very words, thus to tie in to the show's title, but I think better their words should convey how discovering their family history will now have an influence on their life. Will they become a better person because of it? Or are they ashamed of what they found? Not just them, but any of us. Before passing judgement on our ancestors' lives for good or ill, we should look to our own lives. Is my life bringing honor to my ancestors and what they have provided for me? We all walk paths paved with the sweat and blood of all those who have gone before us, ancestor or not. Are we worthy to walk that path? Are we honoring that path?

Which takes me right back to the poem in my very first post on this blog.

If You Could See Your Ancestors

If you could see your ancestors,
All standing in a row,
Would you be proud of them,
Or don't you really know?

Some strange discoveries are made
In climbing family trees;
And some of them, you know,
Do not particularly please.

If you could see your ancestors,
All standing in a row,
There might be some of them, perhaps,
You wouldn't care to know.

But there's another question
Which requires a different view ...
If you could "meet" your ancestors,
Would they be proud of you?

Author Unknown

Finally my question is - How has knowing or discovering your family tree influenced your life?

I would appreciate any comments with your answers to that question.

For myself this is a difficult question to answer, because I have known for most of my life my ancestral pedigree. Of course, in doing research over the years, my knowledge has broadened, but I have always known more or less where my ancestors came from, who they were and what they were. I feel as if I were born for this work. From the age of about twelve I started doing genealogy. My father was always big on family and had some records to start me on my journey. I have expanded these over the years through research. And for my mother's family, I was able to tie into someone else's extensive research at an early age, so I grew up with an awareness of my family tree on both sides.

So to ask how has it influenced my life is difficult to answer, because I don't know what it is like not knowing my tree. Certainly I have a sense of family, probably more so than my siblings, as I know the branches and distant relatives that they don't.

In watching the episode of Who Do You Think You Are with Matthew Broderick I could see a change in him as he came to learn of and gain an appreciation of his grandfathers' selfless military service, but how that influenced his life from then on is something that wasn't or couldn't be shared in such a limited media.

But I think Brooke Shields stated the influence on her life best when she said, "Being able to find yourself in the grand scheme of things, there's something very empowering about it. By going on this journey I feel more complete as a person. It has been very freeing to me . . . I do feel part of something bigger."

Yes, you realize you are not alone in the world. You are part of something bigger - a plan. That is empowering. That knowledge can strengthen us as we go about our day-to-day lives, dealing with the hardships and heartaches of life. We know that our family has dealt with the same things before us. All of our lives are part of something bigger a whole secession of "bigger". We all come to this earth for a reason. And part of that reason is played out in the families to which we come. Don't underestimate your value or your purpose to your family ahead of you and behind you.