Thursday, April 5, 2012

1940 Census Searching Excitement

Yesterday I was finally able to get a chance to try my hand at looking for a census image from the 1940 Census.  I had been waiting due to the fact that for some reason the universe was against having any provider with working access to any states where my family was located at the time.  What a wild ride it was early in the week huh!?!
Then I realized that finally had up one of my states.  The lovely Idaho, where much of my family resided during that time frame up until even today.
 I quickly did a search for what I could find in Idaho Falls where there were Bybee and Dennis family waiting to be found.  I quickly stumbled upon a great great uncle, Garland Dennis living with his wife Thora and son Denny.  The user interface was nice and easy to use, but I needed to be able to narrow things down a bit to locate more specific Enumeration Districts, rather than looking through the entire town.
I got on the website and looked for the Unified 1940 Census ED Finder where I could use the Enumeration District (ED) from the 1930 Census for several of the families that I was looking for and have it converted to the 1940 ED. Then when I clicked on the link for the ED I realized - without thinking about it at first - that it took me to the National Archives site which I hadn't heard was now working.  Yeah!
This allowed me to find the Ephraim and Lucy Jensen family (my great grandparents living with my grandmother and great aunt) in Boise, Idaho and then I decided to try for Utah and found another set of great grandparents David and Jessie Newman.
Things were moving along quite well until I decided to head back to Idaho Falls to seek out Francis and Winnie Bybee (more great grandparents). I used the same converter for their ED from 1930, but didn't find them or any of their neighbors in the "translated" 1940 ED. 
Hmmm what to do?  

I wondered if I would get any different results by going by their address on North Boulevard (also from the 1930 Census).  When I looked at the corresponding map and added some of the surrounding streets I got a few other EDs, but still no luck.

I thought maybe I had the address wrong somehow, and so I looked at Francis' WWII draft registration card which showed me that in about 1943 he was exactly where I thought he should be.

I then noticed on the map for that address that they were near the railroad tracks (see circle in red).  I thought, "It sure would be nice if you could add railroad tracks as a nearby street."
Guess what!? When I looked again there is an option to so and when I did I got all of the EDs that I had previously checked, and a new one!  
Looking into that ED I was able to quickly locate them at the same address that I expected them to be at in 1940 with two of their sons living with them and another married one next door.  Found at last!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wild Weather Wednesday

Before you get too excited thinking this was a recent event, let me say up front that it happened nearly 9 years ago, on 9 June 2003.  However, I recently ran into some information on the Google Maps Mania blog that talked about some ways to use google maps in conjunction with weather data from the past. I thought it would be interesting to see how I might use these maps and charts to enhance a story from my family history.
The blog refers to the following two sites:
  • Weather Underground's WunderMap allows the user to view historical weather records on a Google Map.
  • WeatherSpark also lets you view historical weather on a Google Map, giving you access to the historical records of over 4,000 weather stations.
I decided to take this weather event, that granted, for some of you in tornado prone parts of the country is very minor, but for us out West isn't something you see very often at all, especially right in your own back yard.

It all started as a fairly large thunderstorm started rolling into our area. It was late in the afternoon and I was as work and my wife was at home.

30 minutes before tornado hit.

By going onto either of the websites and setting the various date and time details you can get a picture of what the storm or event looked like coming into our area.
There are many options for radar, temperature, etc.
(The arrow is the storm direction and the marker in the red circle is our town - added in Skitch)

This storm spun off a small tornado that hit just in front of our house, went through the fence and then jumped over to another street before leaping over a neighboring town and going down the main street of another.

My wife said that after hearing what sounded like a train rushing by, she looked out and saw our young daughter's playhouse lifted a few feet off the ground and our fencing just explode. It also broke some trees and threw our next door neighbors trashcan into their garage door, denting it significantly. Luckily no one was hurt and many of our neighbors weren't even home.

Looking down on neighbor's backyard.

The neighbor's house behind and  below ours ended up with fencing pieces scattered all around and their swingset was tossed upside down.

After calling me and telling me what happened, my wife called the news channel and they sent a crew down. She was interviewed and they filmed us picking up the pieces of fencing. Yep, our 15 minutes of fame.

An amazing part of this story - something that we had heard about happening in tornados but had never experienced first hand -  a piece of the fencing was  thrown into another neighbors roof embedding it about a foot.  See pictures at the bottom of the post.

About 30 minutes after the tornado.

We if course took many other pictures of the damage, but as I thought about how I might add to the story using these websites, I then created another map that shows the storm after the tornado had passed by.  I next created an interesting chart showing the drop in temperature in a matter of minutes as the tornado hit. I thought this was a fun way to add details to this weather event in our family using this new online technology.

Daughter's playhouse and neighbors roof (see closeup)

Closeup of embedded fencing panel

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weather Is Beautiful, Wish You Were Here

I just finished attending and presenting a another wonderful event hosted by Family History Expos in St George, Utah.
I wasn't able to go last year and was excited to have another chance to have a quick weekend away with my wife to Utah's "Dixie" about 90 minutes north of Las Vegas.
The weather last time we came was so-so and rained off and on, but this time it has been gorgeous and sunny in the mid-to-upper 60s.  When we left home from up in central Utah there were some frigid north winds blowing with a high in the 30s, so these temps were a welcome change.
Outside the Dixie Center in St George, Utah
I taught 3 different classes at this conference and  each one went well and was full of students anxious to learn. The class time for each was only 50 minutes, so sadly I didn't have much time for questions. Therefore, I  often had students visiting after class and promising to email me for further discussion.
I taught two classes on Friday. The first class was on locating family, local and county histories online. The second one is a popular one on various "Cloud" technologies that can assist in organizing, backing up and syncing your family history and genealogy research data.  We also discussed some applications that allow you to create or modify documents or media. (See the new tab header for some of those tools in my Digital/Cloud Toolbox.)  On Saturday I had the chance to teach a class exploring criminal, prison and asylum records and resources for what I call the "Shady" side of your family tree.   A great conference overall!
 If you were there, what class (mine or someone else's) was your favorite? Share your comments.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rootstech Recap

Time for a brief recap of my RootsTech adventures. In my case it was a wonderful time catching up with many genealogy friends and making lots of new ones.
I was able to meet several of the geneabloggers that I had known online, but hadn't ever met in real life, including a couple mentioned in my previous bucket list post.  I also had a great time meeting up with several of them at a local hotel where we took over the lounge to watch Who Do You Think You Are? with Martin Sheen.  It was fun being able to watch it with others that appreciate what goes into the research and efforts behind the scenes, and can also enjoy the reaction of someone discovering family history details for the first time.
As far as the classes went, I had the chance to attend several great presentations. I was exciting to see the progress being made on a new GEDCOM standard.  I for one will be THRILLED when there is a greater chance of moving data more completely and easily between various apps and web tools!!
The chance to hear from other genealogists about their use of social media was also wonderful. I found that many were using it much like I was, especially regarding using Facebook for more close friendships and everyday stuff, and then google+ for more focused interests and connections.
I certainly had to laugh wholeheartedly at the comedian Ryan Hamilton, that put on a show Thursday night for the crowd. He mentioned the absurdity of Facebook and the fact that it was like someone wandering into your house and pulling your photo albums off the shelf and just perusing them.  Of course you would say, "Who are you and what do you think you are doing!?",  to which the intruder would say, "Oh don't worry about it, I am a friend of a friend".
The chance to speak to vendors was also high on my list.  It gave me a chance to discuss the content of their sites, how the data was exported/imported, what new advances in DNA testing were becoming more accessible, etc., which I can then bring to the table when it comes up in one of my presentations.
Seeing the advancements in cooperation/collaboration between various companies was a treat.  Some still have work to do to play nicely together in the "genealogy sandbox", but things like the efforts in making the 1940 census available and indexing it quickly - including an awesome new mobile app for helping index while on the go (not while driving please)  - really showcase the ability of the genealogy community to work together to accomplish great things. I look forward to seeing this desire to work together as companies, techies and genealogist continue to flourish and expand.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Bucket List GeneaMeme

Jill Ball, the Australian genealogy blogger at has started a new  blogging meme …. The Bucket List GeneaMeme

The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you would like to do or find: Bold Type
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type
You are encouraged to add extra comments after each item. 

1. The genealogy conference I would most like to attend is - Who Do You Think You Are Live!
2. The genealogy speaker I would most like to hear and see is – John Philip Colletta 
3. The geneablogger I would most like to meet in person is – Kerry Scott from (there are many others though that I am hoping to meet at RootsTech, including Jill Ball herself)
4. The genealogy writer I would most like to have dinner with is - D. Joshua Taylor (others would be invited too! <grin>)
5. The genealogy lecture I would most like to present is - Any.  I love to speak about genealogy - and I am hoping to someday break into the national conferences.
6.  I would like to go on a genealogy cruise that visits Italy, England and Denmark. (Italy because it fascinates me and the other two because they as well,  are ancestral roots locations)
7. The photo I would most like to find is - my 3rd great grandfather, Jens Pedersen.
8. The repository in a foreign land I would most like to visit is the British National Archives
9. The place of worship I would most like to visit is – any church where an ancestor worshiped.
10. The cemetery I would most like to visit is - Falmouth Cemetery, Cornwall, England where my 3rd Great Grandparents Joseph John Williams and his wife Johannah Trippconey had to leave behind the graves of 7 young children to emigrate from England to the United States in 1868.
11. The ancestral town or village I would most like to visit is - Bråby, Sorø, Denmark or Tankersley, Yorkshire, England
12. The brick wall I most want to smash is - who were Jens Pedersen's birth parents. He was a foundling in Denmark, born in 1807.
13. The piece of software I most want to buy - I need the upgrade to AniMap 3.0
14. The tech toy I want to purchase next is - an iPad
15. The expensive book I would most like to buy is - probably going to be one that I find at the Family Roots Publishing booth at RootsTech. (so glad they were re-invited!)
16. The library I would most like to visit is - Library of Congress (I got to go last summer, but it was way to brief a visit)
17. The genealogy related book I would most like to write is - (I don’t have time to even think about writing a book!)
18. The genealogy blog I would most like to start would be about  - (I don’t want to start another blog until I have more time!)
19. The journal article I would most like to write would be about - (Why genealogy speakers are valuable and how to not take them for granted)
20. The ancestor I most want to meet in the afterlife is - This is a tough one because I don't know if I want to risk being where he might be, but I would love to see if George Burkinshaw‎ - Born 8 April 1821, Thurgoland, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England and Died 22 December 1901‎, Tankersley Barnsley, Yorkshire, England was a mean and nasty of a guy as his close relative describe.

I invite you to list your genealogy "Bucket List" items in the comments, or go to the Geniaus blog and add your list to Jill's comments.  If you have your own blog, please join the meme and pass it on! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Arizona Was Lovely This Time of Year

I am finally getting a quick moment to talk about my recent trip to Arizona to teach at the Mesa Arizona Family History Expo.  It was my first chance to teach at this particular expo and I had a great time giving four different presentations.   I also had the chance to stay with family during my visit and to enjoy the warm sunshine since things recently turned cold and snowy in Utah.

 Just before the trip I was given a preview copy of Lisa Louise Cooke's new book - Everything you need to know about... How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers (see this link) - to review before my upcoming class on newspaper research at the conference.
Well, after reading the book on the plane down to Phoenix, I was certainly excited about suggesting it to the class.  This class is one where I explore the many different kinds of things that might be found in newspapers and show a variety of examples to get people thinking about what is out there.  Then we briefly discuss some tips for searching and more ideas and many links are included in the syllabus.

 Lisa's book would be a valuable addition to the class because it goes into so much more detail about the search process for newspapers. It also includes checklists and worksheets, as well as a plethora of links and a case study showing how she used newspapers to solve a research problem with her own family history.  I told Lisa at the conference that it just thrills me how detailed and specific she was in providing users with such a COMPLETE reference tool for newspaper research.  Can you tell that I liked it?!
I met many wonderful people at the conference, had some great chats about research and answered many questions after each of my presentations. I was so busy in fact that I hardly got to visit any vendors in the Exhibit Hall.

I am looking forward to RootsTech in a week! It will be a chance to talk with several vendors and catch up with friends I didn't get to speak with in Mesa. I also am looking forward to getting to know many of the geneabloggers and have even promised to do the 'bump' with several of them. (more about that later) It won't be as warm outside as it was in Arizona, but I am sure the conference with be hot, hot, hot!