Who is that GenTraveler?

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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

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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!

 

 

 

 

Who is that GenTraveler?

whoisthatgentraveler

Hello GenTravelers!

Let me introduce you to this week’s GenTraveler, Nick Cimino…(and thank you Nick for the excellent travel tips!)

Nick Cimino has been doing genealogy for 30 years!

His area of specialization is advanced genealogy problem solving.  He is also adept at finding records that are hidden beyond the indexes at Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.  Other areas of specialization: African American ; Cartography (maps); Emigration & Immigration ; Historical Sites ; Lineage Societies ; Heir Searcher ; Naturalization ; Scots-Irish ; Irish American ; German American ; Italian American

How often do you go GenTravelingA minimum of once per year but usually more frequently.

Do you have any tips on how to make GenTraveling a success?  Finding the exact locations of residence, employment, church, social groups and burial places and mapping them before you go makes it easy to make a spiritual connection with your ancestors when you get there.  Also make a list of historic sites and record repositories in the vicinity and map those too.  Make a list of people that you want to contact including other descendants who still live in the area.

What types of repositories are your favorite to visit while GenTraveling?  Libraries, courthouses, historical museums, and archives are my favorites.  In Northern Ireland, my favorite was the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast.  In Canada my favorite was the Public Archives of Canada in Ottawa. Visiting the homes of distant cousins who stayed in the same location as the ancestors can be repositories unto themselves.  Church records can be found in the churches themselves or in the homes of the church historian. Sometimes church records are in  held at the diocese or at a denominational archive.  For example, I visited Ohio Weslayan University for the Methodist archives of Southwest Ohio and found records of my great grandfather who was a United Brethren minister.

Tell us about your favorite GenTraveling excursion.  My most memorable genealogical travel adventure was Northern Ireland in 2008.  I wrote about it on my blog briefly here: http://www.ancestorpuzzles.com/2015/02/my-dilemma-with-lord-of-manor-uk-and.html

and in greater detail here: http://www.ancestorpuzzles.com/2017/03/chain-migration-from-ulster-case-study.html

The Fairbanks family is one of my most intriguing families which dates back to a colonial Massachussetts immigrant, Jonathan Fairbanks of Dedham, Massachusetts.  AKA Jonathan Fairebanke  1594–1668

BIRTH 1594 • West Riding, Yorkshire, England

DEATH 5 DECEMBER 1668 • Dedham, Norfolk, Massachusetts

My 10th great-grandfather

My visits to two Fairbanks family houses on the East and West coasts are also favorites and I write about them here:

http://www.ancestorpuzzles.com/2015/12/rich-and-not-so-famous-kin-fairbanks.html

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Are any of you related to the Fairbanks as well? Be social and check out Nick on these platforms:

https://www.apgen.org/directory/search_detail.html?mbr_id=5336

Blog: http://www.ancestorpuzzles.com

Twitter: @ancestorpuzzles

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AncestorPuzzles/

 

GenTraveling to Mississippi

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Hello GenTravelers!

Who has traveled to Mississippi? I’ve never been there, but I think it’s being added to my GenTraveling bucket list pretty soon!  All I really know about Mississippi is the little ditty that helps me remember how to spell it…M-I-crooked letter, crooked letter….(Ok, I’ll spare you!)

When I introduced Dana McDaniel Britton last week and she mentioned her favorite GenTraveling excursion was Vicksburg National Military Park, I had to go check it out and write this highlight post, in case any of you were unfamiliar with it also!

This national park commemorates the Vicksburg campaign and battle because they were considered to be the turning point of the Civil War.  The victory there gave the Union control of the Mississippi River, so it was open as a supply line for the Army. General Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign is studied as a masterpiece of military operations.

The park has a cemetery that has 18,244 interments – but my genealogical heart is deeply sad at the fact that 12,954 of those interments are unidentified. Your heart is sad too, right?!?

Initially, I was confused at where Vicksburg National Military Park was located.  I thought Mississippi, but then an abundance of references to Illinois popped up in my browser!  Well, let me explain:

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The monument above – The Illinois Memorial is located in the park. It was designed by a former Civil War major, W. L. B. Jenney to “preserved in enduring bronze and stone the name of every soldier from Illinois who participated in that memorable and decisive campaign and siege.”[source]  The monument has 47 steps leading to the top and has sixty bronze tablets lining its interior walls, naming all 36,325 Illinois soldiers who participated in the Vicksburg Campaign.

So much history! What a fantastic place to visit!  I’m scheming about how I can add this stop to a larger itinerary…hmmm, it’s about 3 1/2 hours from New Orleans and about 7 hours from Nashville.  Oh! I know – I’ve always wanted to do a Mississippi River cruise, maybe one of those would stop by this site!?!

Let me know if you’ve visited this national park and if you have any travel suggestions.

That’s it for this post, because now I’ve gotta go browse river cruise info.  Have a great day! Good luck with your research and be sure to plan a GenTraveling excursion to where your ancestors actually lived (or died)!

 

GenTraveling to Ireland

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Hello GenTravelers!

So who has Irish ancestry? If you do, I say you are LUCKY! And that’s not only because St. Patrick’s Day is coming up shortly. I say that because if you have Irish roots, traveling there is probably high on your list and what a beautiful place to visit!!!  I am such a visual person, that when I go GenTraveling and it happens to be a spectacularly beautiful locale, it’s a definite win-win-WIN!

Years ago, I read an article by Joe Grandinetti in the Family Chronicle magazine, called Planning a Family History Research Trip to Ireland? (see the May/June 2014 Issue).  The article made me chuckle, because along with some good advice about preparing for your trip to Ireland, he explains that you shouldn’t wear bright colored clothing, but you should drink the tea and eat the brown bread. He explains what “Craic” is (see Google’s definition below) and warns against discussing politics.  If Ireland is on your GenTraveling bucket list, be sure to get your hands on Joe’s article before you go!

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Additionally, here’s a fun video about the history of Ireland and includes great travel tips:

31 ESSENTIAL First Time IRELAND Travel Tips

I suspect my brick-wall family may be Irish, so wish me LUCK in breaking through, because when I do, you can be sure I’ll plan a trip to Ireland ASAP!

Have a great week!

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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 conferences!

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Hello GenTravelers!

Will you be Gentraveling to a genealogy conference this year?  RootsTech is just over a week away!  Yep, the sea of people in the photo above is what a typical trip to the RootsTech Exhibitor Hall looks like! Crazy huh?

I would highly encourage such GenTraveling!  If you can’t make it to RootsTech, there are plenty of other conferences to consider.  This year,  I plan to attend RootsTech as well as the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference which is being held in Washington DC. this year.  {I’m excited for that!}

Pairing GenTraveling to a conference and a research trip to where an ancestor actually lived is the ultimate win!  Are any of the national conferences this year, anywhere close to where your ancestors lived?  Check out the list below and maybe plan to go!

RootsTech 2019 – February 2 – March 2 in Salt Lake City, Utah

National Genealogical Society conference – May 8-11 in St Charles, Missouri

Southern California Genealogy Jamboree – May 30 – June 2 – in Burbank, California

Federation of Genealogical Societies conference –  August 21-24 – in Washington DC

These are only a few of the major, national conferences; there are plenty of smaller regional or community conferences too.  See what’s happening in the area you want to go GenTraveling to and get busy and plan your trip!

As always, good luck climbing your trees and have a great day!

 

 

GenTraveling – It broadens the mind!

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Hello GenTravelers!

I’m sure most of you know that Mark Twain is credited with saying:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

I agree…do you?

Travel broadens the mind.  Therefore, I would like to modify Twain’s message as follows:

GenTraveling is fatal to shallow research and brick walls, and many family historians need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, in depth, and reasonably exhaustive research of our ancestors and where they actually lived cannot be acquired by vegetating only in online databases and other online resources all one’s lifetime!

Enough said.  Good luck with your preparatory research via all those wonderful online databases!  Then GO plan a GenTraveling excursion!

Have a great week!

 

GenTraveling – Should we travel to unpleasant locations?

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Hello GenTravelers!

If you’ve traced family members back to the nineteenth century, odds are you have some ancestors who fought in the Civil War. I hope you are planning a trip to where they actually lived.  But what about where they actually died?  Many family historians have ancestors that died in places like Andersonville Prison in Georgia.  Do you have any desire to visit there? Nearly 13,000 prisoners died there. Were any of them your ancestors?

Conditions in the Andersonville Prison were atrocious. Understandably, prisoner Robert H. Kellogg wrote, “Can this be hell?” because scenes like this were common:

andersonville2

There are many such historic sites that conjure up unpleasant feelings. Do we visit these locations in order to firmly remind ourselves of the horrors that occurred there, and to do all we can to never allow those horrors to be repeated?  I hope so.  Just be sure to plan some other wonderful (and uplifting) locations on the itinerary for that GenTraveling trip as well!

Where have you GenTraveled to, that you would consider ‘unpleasant’?

Good luck for successfully researching your ancestors – and be sure to let me know where you are planning your next GenTraveling adventure!

GenTraveling to Open Air Museums

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Hello GenTravelers!

Isn’t it thrilling to go GenTraveling?!?  To visit your ancestral lands?  Yes, it is the real deal thrill! But some travelers can be discouraged because their ancestor’s former village is now a fast-pace urban area where is it nearly impossible to imagine what it may have been like when their ancestors lived there.

Thank goodness for museums that help bridge that imagination gap! I recently read of the Rhenisch Open Air Museum in Kommern, Germany which includes four villages that help family historians, and others, get a sense of what life used to be like. Their website (link HERE) mentions they have over 65 historical buildings!

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And Kommern isn’t the only city to offer this type of essential GenTraveling experience.  Apparently there are many throughout Europe. You might want to read travel expert, Rick Steve’s article, “Time Traveling at Europe’s Open-Air Museums“.

So, I know you all are planning your next GenTraveling trip, right?  In addition to court houses, libraries and archives, be sure to see if any museums are in the area and add a visit there to your itinerary!

Best wishes for successful research, and be sure to let me know where you plan to GenTravel next!

 

Goals, Goals & GenTraveling

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Since January 1st, I’ve read some terrific blog posts with some awesomely ambitious genealogical goals for 2019.  I was totally inspired!  (If you too want some inspiration, you can visit   The Genealogy Girl and/or Andersonology , and there are many more – just search them out!) Although it’s January 22nd, there’s still time to make a few new year’s resolutions, right?!?

After reading these inspirational posts, I came up with a very long list myself, but I don’t think I’ll publish it – because that’s a LOT of pressure, haha!  But I’m happy to say that I’ve already crossed off one of my goals:

*Attend a week-long genealogy institute course  {CHECK!}

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Last week I attended SLIG2019.   It was great! And now that goal will probably be a yearly goal from now on! Why?  Because I’m sold on the value of the course. The level of instruction was deep and concentrated (it’s a 5-day/all-day course), and the instructors are all experts in their field. I highly recommend it! The hardest part was deciding which course to sign up for!

To give you a taste of what is typically offered, here is what SLIG offered this year:

Course 1: The Family History Law Library  

Course 2: Beside, Through, and Beyond the Golden Door: Immigrants to the United States After 1890  

Course 3: Metes & Bounds Land Platting  

Regional Research

Course 4: Bridging the Gap: New England to the Midwest, 1780-1840  

Course 5: Researching New York: Resources and Strategies  

Course 6: Advanced Southern Research and Sources  

Ethnic Research

Course 7: 1619-2019: Four Hundred Years of African American Genealogy  

Course 8: Exploring Native American Research  

Countries & Languages

Course 9: Gothic Script and Fraktur: Reading Records of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, and the Czech Republic, plus German-American Church Books and Newspapers  

DNA

Course 10: Introduction to Genetic Genealogy  

Course 11: A Practical Approach: Establishing Genealogical Proof with DNA  

Methodology

Course 12: Researching Like a Professional  

Course 13: Burned Counties and More: Overcoming Destroyed, Missing or Non-Extant Records; Sources and Techniques/Methods  

Course 14: Advanced Genealogical Methods  

Writing & Summarizing

Course 15: Writing a Quality Family Narrative

 

So that goal is checked off! Yeah!  My other goals are, of course, to travel to various places where my ancestors actually lived.  You can be sure I’ll post about those trips!

How are you doing on your goals? Let me know, because one can’t have too much inspiration! Maybe I’ll add to my list, or get busy on next year’s list already!

Have a great week!