Tag Archives: family research

Missed RootsTech?

RootsTech is the largest genealogical conference in the world. In 2017, more than 30,000 genealogists of all stripes attended what has been described as a phenomenal event. Their website describes the event: “RootsTech is a global family history event where people of all ages learn to discover, share and celebrate their family connections across generations through technology. At RootsTech, there is something for everyone, no matter your experience in family history or your skill level in technology.”

But, of course, most of us missed it for a variety of reasons. Well, there’s good news!

RootsTech has put up most of the presentations that anyone can view. BUT!! It’s only for a limited time.  I’ve searched around the site and there’s no indication as to how they define “limited time” so my advice is to check out the website and view what you can while you can. You won’t regret it as the conference was chock full of presentations by the best in the business. As far as subjects are concerned…best to check out the website!

Click here RootTech to access the home page and read about the conference itself and plans for RootsTech 2018 and RootsTech 2019 in the FAQ’s section accessible from the menu in the upper right-hand corner. Or just click here: Frequently Asked Questions.

And since we’re talking about genealogy conferences, don’t forget about NERGC 2017 being held this year in Springfield, Massachusett from 26 April to 29 2017. Wednesday the 26th  is “Library and Teacher’s Day with a track on Technology. Thursday through Saturday is the main event with 130 presentations, workshops, lunches and banquets.  NERGC takes place in venues around New England on the odd numbered years. Organized by the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium, the event is quite a bit smaller than RootsTech with a usual attendance of approximately 1,000. However, with 70 speakers, there is no shortage of quality presenters and with 130 presentations, no shortage of subjects covered.

Interested? Early bird registration ends on 28 February 2017!

 

Saved in El Salvador – A Brave Adoption Story – A Brave DNA Story

Double Helix - Red and Blue with BandsOne of the many people I’ve met while mentoring researchers at the Chicopee Library’s Genealogy Department is a 76 year old woman who has never married but has an adopted daughter. Taking on a 10 year old daughter while single is in and of itself a large challenge. But that’s just the surface of the story which I plan to write about over the next few weeks. About 35 years ago, this woman flew to El Salvador by herself to finalize the adoption and take her daughter home. Now, the daughter is interested in a DNA test to determine if any siblings or other family members got out safely. For historical perspective, just a few weeks after they came back to the States, several Catholic nuns were murdered and left by the roadside. Not a fun place to be. So the story will take a while to cover as she won’t be sending in her sample for a couple more weeks and then she’ll have to wait for results.

I mentioned to her that AncestryDNA might be the best place to start. This is not a case of research first then use DNA to verify the paperwork. This is starting from dead ZERO. We have no information to go by. Anything she can find will be a blessing to her. Hopefully, she’ll order this evening from www.dna.ancestry.com. I hope there’s a sale going  on!

I hope she has more patience than I do!

Stay tuned!

What do you do when you find hundreds of living relatives Part 2

It was Friday evening about 8:30 pm. Karen and I pulled into my sister’s driveway in Cortland, New York. She greeted us warmly with hugs and kisses, but I kept looking over her shoulder to get a look at the woman I came here to see. Apparently having nodded off after her long flight from Alabama, Aunt Cissy looked perfectly comfortable but not so much that I wasn’t willing to go over and wake her up!

By this time, my brother-in-law, Ray, had come out of the house to watch the big event. Karen and I walked slowly toward Aunt Cissy followed by Diane and Ray as he came down the steps to the back yard. Aunt Cissy wasn’t really sleeping.  She was hoping to give me a bit of a scare. It worked! She leaped up in a big “Surprise!” moment…

Diane Robison Lillie - Cissy Robison Hunter - Dave Robison

Diane Robison Lillie – Cissy Robison Hunter – Dave Robison

When I finally got my arms around her, I said to everyone that I felt as though I was hugging Aunt Cissy, my grandfather Cecil Lee Robison, his parents Erskin and Linnie Otto Peace Robison, their parents Samuel and Mary Hardin Robison, their parents Green Coleman and Eliza Ann Francis Rochelle Robinson and lastly, Green’s parents, Hezekiah and Tabitha Grantham Robinson. Hezekiah’s father might have been Jonathan Robertson a mid-1700’s Scots-Irish immigrant. But that, so far, has yet to be proven. What a crew!

 

My aunt is the daughter of my paternal grandfather and his second wife. That means she is my half-aunt. But that’s just a technicality. To Diane and me, she is a full-fledged aunt!

Cissy was no disappointment! She came loaded with stories, photographs and documents along with her excitement and genuine happiness over finally getting to meet Diane and me. She also brought 2 crocheted Christmas decorations, hand-made 5 X 12 wall hangings that have the word “NOEL” set crocheted into them.

Onto to Cissy’s story, blended with what I know based on the few stories I heard as a child or more recent genealogical research.

Cissy knew my father, Henry Dunn, but he was at least 15 years her senior. By the time she was born, Henry was living back in Evergreen with his mother, Mary Virginia, and his overbearing grandmother, Gilma Robertson Dunn. Gilma was widowed in 1918 when her highly successful businessman husband, Henry Wright Dunn, was driving out of town and heading up the hill on his way to pick up a nurse he had hired to work in his household. His car stalled on the hill and he rolled backwards and into the oncoming L&N train heading through town. He died 2 days later and his gravestone is marked, “Death Loves a Shining Star.” He had been a Ford and Buick dealer (a mega dealer in the early 20th century!), a hardware dealer and the owner of extensive rental properties in and around Evergreen. These stories I had learned through my own research, trips to Alabama, newspaper articles, cemetery visits, vital records and other family records that were made available to me. Henry Dunn had traveled up to Anniston from time to time to visit his father and step-mother. The visits were very short and long on antipathy.

Gilma Robertson Dunn  (1873-1954)

Gilma Robertson Dunn (1873-1954)

Back in Evergreen, Gilma had long ago managed to have my father’s birth records destroyed as she was no fan of the man her daughter had married and it seemed as though she didn’t want Cecil’s name to be associated with her grandson, Henry Dunn. Perhaps she was hoping to marry off her daughter to another man and have that man adopt Henry. Whatever the motivation, this turned out to have been a convenient decision on her part for her own nefarious purposes. Not only was Henry Dunn sent from one aunt and uncle to another, he was sent off to a boarding school in Mississippi, back to his father in Anniston and wherever else they could put him. Amazingly, the 1930 US Population Schedule shows 5-year-old

Henry’s parents, Cecil Lee and Mary Virginia, living on one side of town while Henry was in the household of 3 single African-American domestics on the other side of town. Fast forward to December 7th 1941. My grandparents were divorced with Cecil remarried and Mary living in Evergreen either alone or with my father whenever that was convenient for the family. But what were they to do with 15-year-old Henry? To Gilma, that was easy. She had a son who was a Lieutenant Commander in the Army Air Corps. Gilma had the connections to obtain an affidavit claiming the Henry was 2 years older than he really was. Voila, “17-year-old” Henry Dunn Robison joined the US Navy, enlisting in early January of 1942, 4 weeks after the Japanese attack.

 

Aunt Cissy knew my father. She was frightened by him given his age and height. He was over 6 feet tall, even as a teenager. He was also a much different person than Cissy’s 4 brothers. The dynamic in that household was far different than anything that my father ever experienced. So I can only imagine how “pleasant” Henry Dunn’s infrequent visits to his father and step-mother would have been.

 

My grandfather, Cecil Lee Robison, and his 7 siblings. Cecil Lee is in the upper right  hand corner.

My grandfather, Cecil Lee Robison, and his 7 siblings. Cecil Lee is in the upper right hand corner.

Henry Dunn’s father, Cecil Lee Robison, was also a tall man. He was a successful businessman in Evergreen working as an accountant and had been a deacon of his church. In other words, a well-respected citizen of his community. However, his home life was less than the typical 1940’s or 1950’s home life. His relationship with his family was not particularly warm and cozy. However, he was a loyal and faithful father and husband who, along with Hilda Mae, his wife, raised 5 children who were respected in their own right: a mayor, a teacher, a State Fire Marshall,

an independent business owner, an early DNA researcher… All quite successful.

There are quite a few more details I’d like to share. I’m sure you’ll want to hear about Uncle Michael, the early 1960’s DNA researcher at Duke University.

So as much as I’ve tried to put this whole amazing story into 2 parts, I’ve got to stretch it out with at least one more installment and maybe two.

Stay tuned!

 

Black History Month

Here are a couple of links to research opportunities. The first is an article I found in the Huffington Post and the other is an announcement by Fold3,

This was my post to the Western Massachusetts Genealogical Societies (WMGS) Google Community:

I just read this article at the Huffington Post: http://bit.ly/Black_History_Month_Google_Cultural

Great for researchers interested in Black History. And I know there are quite a few WMGS members who would benefit.

Here’s the Fold3 announcement and my post to the WMGS Community:

Here’s the Fold3 Google Community regarding Black History Month: https://plus.google.com/+fold3

In addition to these posts, I also placed this on our Facebook page. Click here to “Like” the WMGS page.

By the way, WMGS is centered on Western Massachusetts. But there are many who have ties to the area and choose to become a member. There are members in California, Maryland, Texas and many other states. Click here to access a membership application.

We are even working on perfecting remote broadcasts whereby the membership can sit at home, wherever they live, and participate in real time.  Generally, we have a remote broadcast meeting (Google Hangouts) on odd numbered months and live appearances on even months. Our members have been able to participate and interact with nationally known genealogists.

Chicopee Library Named LDS Family History Center

Chicopee Public Library

Chicopee Public Library

The Chicopee Public Library at 449 Front Street in Chicopee, Massachusetts has been designated a Family History Center by the

Family History Center, Salt Lake City, Utah

Family History Center,         Salt Lake City, Utah

Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS). These are the folks who bring us billions of genealogical records to research at their website Family Search and they do it for free!

On Thursday, 19 November 2015, representatives from LDS will be presenting the library with a very generous check to support the genealogical activities there. For example, along with 5 or 6 other genealogists, I’ve been volunteering to assist library patrons with their own family research. In addition, the library sponsors a variety of genealogy research classes, lectures and presentations. I’ve been invited to participate in the presentation ceremony. 

Keep an eye on my schedule of activities at Old Bones Genealogy of New England and click the “Workshops/Classes” tab. You might also take a look at “Useful Documents” where I post dozens and dozens of genealogy documents, charts, spreadsheets, lists of genealogically oriented Facebook pages and a list of good websites to take a look at.

I hope to get a few pictures to post!

 

More “exciting” news from Ancestry.com

Here’s a quick post regarding Loretta Gillespie’s blog, this time about Ancestry.com.

Are you a subscriber? I have been a “faithful” customer for over 10 years. Lately, they’re a little more difficult to keep track of. For example, their newest membership packages are a little confusing. We discussed it today on a Google Hangout (which all of you can participate in) called “Mondays with Myrt.” Click this link to Loretta Gillespie’s blog, “Barking Up the Wrong Tree.” It’s worth a look.

This was a large part of the discussion today on Monday’s with Myrt.  If you’re interested, it’s a great place to listen to all things genealogical.  Check out http://bit.ly/MyrtsNext. That link will take you to DearMYRT’s Google Community. All are invited to join the Hangout every Monday at noon eastern, 11 AM Central and 10 AM Mountain time. I’m on the “panel” nearly every week, but an unlimited number of people can watch through her Community page.

Old Bones Genealogy of New England

Old Bones Genealogy of New England

 

Kunkle Koincidence

English: Photo of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

English: Photo of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Genealogy Road Show has a lot going for it.  They are able to cover many more family stories in a single episode than WDYTYA (either US or UK) and Finding Your Roots with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  Not that the others aren’t worth watching.  Quite the contrary.  I enjoy the stories and I enjoy hearing how the deep family stories are uncovered.

Tonight, I wanted to mention an odd “koincidence” that I noticed in last night’s show.

Dream a Little Dream (Cass Elliot album)

Dream a Little Dream (Cass Elliot album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First I should mention that although the surname “Kunkle” isn’t on any list of the most popular. It’s far down the list after all the “Smith” and “Jones” families.  But “Kunkle” jumps out at me simply because I know of an individual named Kunkle who lives and works here in Massachusetts.  This particular Kunkle is also related to a very famous personality from the 60’s, Mama Cass Elliot! As most of us from that generation already know, Mama Cass was a spectacular talent (IMHO) who died tragically over 40 years ago.  I can still hear her singing “Dream a Little Dream of Me.”

OK, back to genealogy.  Last night’s show featured an elderly woman, Emma Musgrove Dasenbrock, who was accompanied by her son, Timothy.  She knew literally nothing about her mother’s side of her family as her mother had died about a year after Emma’s birth. Mary Tedesco did a marvelous job with Mrs. Dasenbrock making her and her son feel quite comfortable as she rolled out the unknown family mysteries.  As it turns out, her mother was a descendant of the immigrant Phillip Kunkle who arrived around 1840.  Phillip and his wife Margaret had a son named Edward who married Anna.  Their daughter and Emma’s mother was Barbara Kunkle.  Kunkle…an seemingly rare if not odd name.  But a Kunkle nonetheless.

Now here’s the part I believe most people missed.  Later in the show,  as Josh Taylor was working with Julie Bryar, he displayed a 1933 Canadian Immigration document which, on line 5, showed Julie’s great grandfather, Julius Marsalko.  Who noticed the name on line 4?  It just happens to be “James KUNKLE”!!

It’s a small world after all!

FYI Both Julius Marsalko and James Kunkle were stamped “REJECTED” for admission!!

Related articles

Old Bones on LCTV—Interviewing Relatives

Here’s the video of my interview with “Mrs Buttercup” for Ludlow Community Televisoion. I’m describing the value of contacting relatives for the purpose of learning about their childhood, where they grew up, what their family life was like, what games they played as children and dozens more questions. All of this in the interest of making the cold dry facts of genealogy research come to life by “putting some meat on the bones”, telling a real family story, give your family history some color and make it interesting.  Click this link and take a look: Old Bones on Interviewing Relatives for Family Research.  The sooner a good family researcher gets to their family members, the better the chance to capture the treasures of their memories.

Questions are tailored to trigger those memories.  Here are some examples: “Did you go to your grandmother’s for special dinners, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc?”, “Do you have pleasant memories of the aromas in her kitchen?”, “Can you still “smell them at times?”, “Did your family eat dinner together at the table?”, “Did everyone have their own place to sit?”.  These questions should elicit more than a one word response; they should be the foundation of stories as the person you are interviewing begins to remember their childhood and how they interacted with their family.  Good or bad, you’re sure to get some great stories.  When I interviewed my Great Aunt Sarah, we got to talking about some of the mischief she was involved in.  She admitted to me (and I was the first to hear her “confession”!) that she was the one who painted the neighbor’s cat blue when she was about 7 years old.  She never really liked that cat!!

If you’re going to take on this as a project and get some interviews, I strongly recommend using a digital recorder.  Get permission to use it in the interview.  Some people can be very intimidated by a recording device and small digital recorders can just sit on the table without microphones and other recording technology.  Very soon into the interview, everyone will just forget that it’s there.  After you get permission, ask AGAIN after the recording starts.  You may be getting along just fine today, but you want to make sure that the person’s voice can be clearly heard agreeing to taping the interview .  Not that you’re going to publish the recording or put it in the public donain, but it’s a good idea to get approval!  Take your time…you’re probably not going to get this done in one session.

I’ll be hosting some classes in the interview process and possibly record a “lesson” to post on YouTube wich I’d link here.

Stay tuned!