About gentraveling

I am passionate about family history and I collect stories from other family historians who are climbing their family trees and planning trips to where their ancestors actually lived.

GenTraveling Friday Finds

fridayfinds

Hello! I have some Fabulous Friday Finds to share with you!

All over the internet, there are articles about places where you might want to GenTravel to! Each Friday I hope to share links to some of those articles.  There might be one link, or if my time management skills are stellar that week, and I have time to hunt for more, I’ll link to more than just one. :o)

Here are this week’s:

India (specifically, the village of Osian): This article at Binny’s Food & Travel Diaries is about a GenTraveling trip the author went on with prize money she won from another article about a GenTraveling trip. So you get to read about 2 awesome trips! And her photos and advice about traveling to India are terrific! I’m happy I found this site and I’m sure you will be too!

Scotland: This fun article (Home and away: That time I crossed the pond to find my Scottish roots) tells you about the author’s GenTraveling excursion in hopes to find some Lindsay family connections and has some good advice on visiting castles.

Have a great weekend! Best wishes for finding those ancestors.  Are you planning your GenTraveling yet? Where do you plan to go? Be sure to share your GenTraveling Bucket list on our Bucket List Page.  GenTraveling: It’s the Real Deal Thrill!

GenTraveling with the 6 Degrees of Separation Meme

6degrees

As many of you may know, I’m sometimes pretty liberal with my definition of GenTraveling (as demonstrated in this post…and this post, and…okay, I’ll stop!)

I think we ALL know that while doing genealogy research, we can easily “travel” off-topic and end up, well who knows where! Occasionally the term used to describe this common divergence  is “I went down a rabbit hole”, or other similar genealogical-relevant verbiage.  Today, I want to make light of this unproductive tenancy – which I’m sure is familiar to genealogists everywhere!

So here is my version of the popular six degrees of separation meme:

#1. Death Certificate:  Today I was analyzing a death record that had very little useful information on it (lots of “Not Known” in the boxes!). The informant (if you could really call him that) was the Lowville NY County Home “keeper”. So, I went Googling…

deathcert

 

that search connected me to #2. Poorhouse History where I saw an old postcard with a picture of the institution of where the fellow I was researching apparently died:

lewispoorhouse{source}

A related search sent me to the #3. National Archives where a web page explained a great project that will make almshouse ledgers available:

“In October 2015, under a grant generously funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the New York City Municipal Archives embarked upon a large and exciting new project: processing, preserving and cataloging the Almshouse Ledger Collection. This historic collection contains over 400 handwritten volumes pertaining to city-run institutions including the Almshouses, Workhouses, Lunatic Asylum, Penitentiary and various hospitals, which all found their home on Blackwell’s Island, now Roosevelt Island. The span covers the years 1758-1952. This important project will ensure that the Almshouse Ledgers are preserved for future generations of researchers, scholars, genealogists, educators and anyone interested in social, cultural and medical histories during this period of great change and growth in New York City.”

(http://www.archives.nyc/almshouse)

At the bottom of the National Archives page, there was this:

nellie

which sent me Googling about #4 Nellie Bly because I’ve never heard of Nellie – (have any of you???)  Apparently, she was a journalist who went undercover in a New York state asylum to investigate reports of brutality and neglect of its patients.  She wrote articles about it, which turned into a book entitled “Ten Days in a Mad-House“, then a movie, etc. etc.{find info about Nellie HERE}.

Another version of the movie just came out in January of 2019 called “Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story” and the character Nellie Bly was played by actress…

#5 Christina Ricci

ricci

and speaking of Christina Ricci…did you know that in 2006 she was on #6 PETA’s worst-dressed list, so after that we stopped wearing fur!  {HERE’s that 2006 list}

That, my fellow GenTravelers is how you go traveling WAY off topic! Those are the 6 degrees of separation – or aka unproductive genealogical researching! Haha!

If you want to participate in this meme, write up your own blog post about your 6 degrees of separation and be sure to send me a link!

Now, get busy and do some REAL research! :o)

 

 

GenTraveling to Upper Canada

ontario

Hello GenTravelers!

Well, my next GenTraveling excursion is coming up shortly! It is currently snowing here in my neck of the woods, so this chilly-looking photo of Lake Ontario seemed appropriate.  However, I’m hoping for MUCH warmer weather in a few weeks.  The plane tickets are purchased, the itinerary is sketched out, my list of repositories that I want to visit is….well, long and getting longer!

We (my hubby and I) will be GenTraveling to Upper Canada. You know, I remember being confused when I initially came across that term – it seemed so backwards that “Upper” was being referred to that area of the map – anyone else??? If so, here’s an explanation (per Wikipedia HERE):

The “upper” prefix in the name reflects its geographic position along the Great Lakes, mostly above the headwaters of the Saint Lawrence River, contrasted with Lower Canada (present-day Quebec) to the northeast.

But…back to my GenTraveling plans – the plan is to to circumnavigate Lake Ontario! Fun eh?  We’ll start our journey in Toronto, then travel King’s Highway 33 (aka Loyalist Parkway):

In 1784, following the American Revolution, the United Empire Loyalists began to arrive in Upper Canada, hoping to settle the frontier near Cataraqui (now Kingston). With the help of the military, the loyalists blazed a trail west from Cataraqui to Bath, a distance of 25 kilometres (16 mi). This trail would become a section of Highway 33 nearly 150 years later. [source]

I have loyalist ancestors that I need to research, so we’ll stop in at The Lennox and Addington Historical Society.

We’ll continue on and hopefully hit some waterfalls:

ontario waterfalls

We’ll explore the Thousand Islands region, then head down to New York (where I have MAJOR research to conduct – wish me luck and much success!),  we’ll head west and hopefully hit some lighthouses. I LOVE photographing lighthouses. By the way, did you know there is a Lighthouse Society?  Who knew! (I might have to join). Plus, they are nice enough to keep a list of Lake Ontario lighthouses up on their website. Thanks Lighthouse Society! [Link HERE] This is Sodus Point lighthouse and I even had a distant cousin live in Sodus Point for a while.  Possible research there too!

sodus

Next up is Niagara Falls and then back up to Toronto.  We’ll have gone full circle! I’m totally excited!  We’re going to pack A LOT into those 8 days!

Now, excuse me – I have a TON of prep-research to do!  Have a great day and good luck climbing those family trees!

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So, are you planning your GenTraveling yet? Where do you plan to go? Be sure to share your GenTraveling Bucket list on our Bucket List Page.  GenTraveling: It’s the Real Deal Thrill!

 

GenTraveling with Google Maps

googlempa

Hello GenTravelers!

How many of you are like me – who LOVE to go GenTraveling, but some months it seems like its just really hard to get away from your every-day responsibilities?  Those are the months when I get to do all of the pre-travel research and prepare as much as possible for a successful GenTraveling trip – when that eventually happens!

One tool I use A LOT is Google Maps….

  It’s like virtually GenTraveling!

Isn’t it amazing that when you find your ancestor’s address on a record, you can (sometimes) go and see the actual house they lived in?!?  I love it!

At the RootsTech conference last month, I attended a class on this very subject. It was taught by Amy Carpenter and she did an excellent job! I now know that I should take a much deeper dive into Google Maps!  She even graciously posted her presentation slides on her website (HERE).  You should go take a look!

Google Maps is fun, but it’s also a great research and analytical tool to connect people with places and places with people.  Let me know how you’ve used it in your research!

Have a great day and good luck climbing those family trees!

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So, are you planning your GenTraveling yet? Where do you plan to go? Be sure to share your GenTraveling Bucket list on our Bucket List Page.  GenTraveling: It’s the Real Deal Thrill!

GenTraveling to 221b Baker Street

bakersst2

Hello GenTravelers!

This post will be a bit different because I feel a slight rant coming on!  OK, I’ll just get this off my chest:

What genealogical expert deemed “Negative Evidence” to be the two words “educated” family historians should use to refer to evidence that isn’t found in a particular record set when one would expect it to be there???

Why do I care?  I guess because I’m a simple gal who likes to keep things simple.  There is just too great of a chance of “Negative Evidence” being confused with “Negative Searches” (aka NIL searches) which are two very different things!

A few years ago, I watched a webinar by Judy Russell called “No, no, Nanette! What negative evidence is…and isn’t”  The webinar was excellent, as ALL of Judy Russell’s presentations are!  At the end of the webinar, Judy was taking questions from participants and even she got confused! Now, if you don’t know Judy Russell, she is highly respected in the genealogy industry – for good reason! She’s brilliant!  The day after the webinar, I got an email from the webinar organizers explaining that Judy realized that she mis-referenced something as “Negative Evidence” when it was actually just a “Negative Search” (or visa versa, I can’t remember)…but she wanted to corrected herself.  I say, if such terminology sometimes confuses the tippy-tippy-top experts in the field, we should come up with new terminology!

Alright, another rant: It’s my pet-peeve when people go on rants, and just do it to complain.  Usually they don’t offer any solution to the problem! Therefore, in order to not be a hypocrite, I offer this new terminology:

terminology

Yeah, yeah, it has more syllables, but tell me, would that new terminology get confused with “Negative Search”?  Not nearly as often (if at all, I would think, but that’s just me). So, how to get an entire industry to change its ways????  Who are the genealogical powers-that-be that could wave a magic wand and make everyone suddenly change their terminology? Sadly, I just don’t know.  If YOU do, (and if you agree with this rant), you know what to do, right?

But whew! I feel much better – thanks for letting me get that off my chest! :o)

So, by now you’re probably asking why we were originally going to go GenTraveling to 221b Baker Street!  Well, because one of the very good examples in Judy Russell’s webinar about Negative Evidence, I mean counter-expectational evidence was a story from Sherlock Holmes himself:

The Dog That Didn’t Bark:

“[T]he Inspector’s … attention had been
keenly aroused. … “Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my
attention?”
“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes. [A. Conan Doyle,
“The Adventure of Silver Blaze,” The Strand Magazine (July-December 1892) IV: 645,
656-657.]

Judy went on to explain that counter-expectational evidence is “the absence of what should happen under a given set of circumstances” (You can read her free webinar notes HERE) – it was great!

If you ever get to travel to 221b Baker Street, you’ll find a great museum with lots of history and if you have the Doyle surname in your pedigree, maybe you’re somehow related!  (Then you’ll know where you got your keen genealogical puzzle-solving skills from!)

Alrighty! Good luck with all of your research – all that finding of direct evidence, indirect evidence and even counter-expectational evidence and then start planning your GenTraveling trip to where your ancestors actually lived! (And of course, pop in and tell me all about it in the comments below, or at least with a link to your site!)

Have a great day!

 

 

Who is that GenTraveler?

whoisthatgentraveler
Hello GenTravelers! Please let me introduce you to this week’s GenTraveler…
gailsmith
Gail Tobias Smith has been doing genealogy personally since 1992 and started her business in 2014.
She specializes in certain areas of the country and has done extensive research in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Colorado. She has done research in Ireland and Germany as well.
How often do you go GenTraveling?
I have gone GenTraveling many times in the United States. Most of this has been for my personal genealogy. Whenever I travel I always look for connections to towns and cities  in my family tree before the road trip. I have enjoyed wandering through cemeteries and photographing the stones of family members. I also include any points of interest in the cemetery; a chapel, signage or significant landmarks. I always tour the town or city I am visiting and make it a point to check out the church that my family would have attended. I love photographing the town hall or city center, war memorials and buildings of significance. Often times I have learned about an ancestor by talking to a server in a restaurant or a local shop keeper.
What types of repositories are your favorite to visit while GenTraveling?
In small towns I have found the local library to be a great source. Typically there is a local historian or genealogist who seems to know everyone in town. I have visited a few courthouses which always prove to be a great source of information. I look for other repositories when GenTraveling, such as archives and historical societies.
Do you have any tips on how to make GenTraveling a success?
To be successful when GenTraveling you need to plan out your trip and be prepared. I have a small black rolling bag that holds my laptop and iPad and all of my office supplies. I always bring along my portable scanner and my camera. I like to take pictures on my phone and my camera. At the end of the day I download the photos from my camera (which is digital and has wifi) and compare with the pictures I took on my phone.
I carry a lot of office supplies; extra batteries for my scanner & camera, cords for my electronics (scanner, camera, computer, iPad, iPhone), a car charger is essential, pencils, pens of various colors, mini stapler, whiteout, mini scissors, small flashlight, earbuds, post it notes, business cards, note pads, highlighters, thumb drives, a small lighted magnifying glass, snacks (I’m always hungry), roll of quarters for parking (small towns typically do not take credit cards) and instructions for camera and scanner (unless you have them stored on your computer). This always seems like a lot of “stuff” but it really isn’t, it all fits neatly in my rolling office. Keep a list of what you need and that way you can pack quickly and efficiently.
Before you head out make sure you know the hours of operation of a library, court house or any other facility you want to visit. Know what the rules are, what you can bring in with you and what is not allowed. Some facilities offer lockers, most do not.
Tell us about your favorite GenTraveling excursion.
One of my favorite GenTraveling experiences was in Texas. I was in a small town with my husband looking for any signs of a main street or any town buildings; sadly none remained. We saw a man mowing his grass and asked if he knew of anyone who would know about the family we were looking for. He sent us to another house, and the husband and wife were working in the open air garage. They were warm and welcoming and sent us to the ministers house. We drove a few blocks to his house and he and his wife invited us in and gave us the history of the town and the family we were inquiring about. They also gave us  directions to the homestead and the local cemetery. This wonderful tiny town and the people who lived there could not have been kinder.
The tiny cemetery had a wooden box on a stand where you could sign in as a visitor. I took a peek at the most recent visitors and recognized the family name we were looking for. How serendipitous!! His email and phone number were listed as well. I added our information to the list and when we returned home I contacted him and we have been in touch ever since, sharing genealogy, stories and family lore.

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If you’d like to get in touch, contact Gail at willowroadgenealogy@gmail.com.

GenTraveling & Gratitude

thankyou

Hello GenTravelers!

Do you keep a gratitude journal? I do! Although, I’m not saying I write in it every single day! :o)

I also try not to keep my gratitude to myself.  If someone does something kind for me, I try and remember to tell them thank you, or send them a card, or some such thing.  I recently read the article “Road Trip For Road Blocks” in the July/August YouGenealogyToday magazine.  The article, written by Karena Elliott gave some tips on successful GenTraveling. Most were common sense suggestions, like go to the courthouse…go to the local library….see if they have a historical society in the area.  BUT, there was one tip that I want to implement on my next GenTraveling trip – and that is to buy a few gift cards, maybe from the local coffee shop to give to people who are especially helpful.  Isn’t that a very good idea?

Funny thing:  I traveled to upstate New York a few years ago, and the local history librarian at the Utica Public Library was a very helpful gentleman! When I got home, I quickly wrote him a thank you note and popped it in the mail.  (I still have a few cards left from that package…so yep, I took the photo above, so you could see what a cute card I sent, haha!)  Anyway!…two years later, I went on another GenTraveling trip to upstate NY and stopped in at the same library.  My “helpful gentleman” wasn’t there, but I did noticed a familiar card pinned to a bulletin board!  Still there after 2 years!!!

Today’s lesson:  First, be grateful for kind and helpful people. Second, don’t keep your gratitude to yourself!

Good luck with your research and let me know if you’re planning any trips to where your ancestors actually lived.  I’d LOVE to hear about it!