Friday, April 15, 2016

FINALLY: Get Organized! March 13th - 19th

 1. Consider the differences between sources, information and evidence.  Are you drawing on the most original form of first-hand information? Certified Genealogists Elizabeth Shown Mills and Thomas W. Jones discuss these concepts in their published works and methodology presentations.

If we are able to determine the informant, we may decide if the information he provided is primary or secondary. Primary information is an eyewitness account. Secondary information is just that - second hand or hearsay.

When selecting evidence to answer a specific research question like "What is this couple's marriage date?" it's a good practice to obtain direct evidence wherever possible. Occasionally, we are forced to rely on indirect evidence, though a written proof argument should be created to explain why we have made the decision to answer our research question with less than stellar information.

  • An example of direct evidence of a couple's marriage would be a marriage return, signed by the justice of the peace or church minister who officiated at the marriage.
  • An example of indirect evidence of a couple's marriage would be an indication on a death certificate of the surviving spouse's name. Though this may be a clue, we would consider this inadequate to fulling answering the question of the date and place of the couple's marriage as it would be preferable to obtain the marriage return, the first published document that the marriage took place.

As I work through my family history and family tree, my "quest" is always to attempt to 
find the most original copy of the sources, and what a bonus it is when that
information comes from a Primary source!  It is so interesting learning
about all the different levels that a source can be, and the levels of the evidence.
I am learning to "question everything" in areas that I had not questioned before.
My family may be tiring of my questioning their "facts" when chatting, asking them if 
indeed what they are saying is actually a FACT, or is it an assertion (theirs or someone else's) 
with or without the needed information that gives evidence to prove this assertion ......LOL!
But, I am happy to be able to encourage our grandchildren to " question" and
not just accept.

  2. Organize your thoughts, "current thinking" as Cousin Russ calls it. Take the time to write a paragraph or more justifying your "current thinking" for each parent-child-spouse family relationship in your genealogy database. Do this for each event in an ancestor's life. This keeps you from having to rethink the conclusion, until perhaps additional sources of information come to light. We have previously reminded you to look at a series of DearMYRTLE Study Group sessions titled The Written Conclusion, based on Chapter 7 of Mastering Genealogical Proof cited above. It may help to study two of Elizabeth Shown Mill's posts:
We are only dealing with the first four generations, starting with yourself.
Though your compiled genealogy may contain more generations, we are working to learn correct research principles.

DearMyrt, thank goodness that we are just working on the four generations at this time!
This is an area that I feel very weak in. I think that I am trying to make it much more difficult than it really is....... I am re-reading chp. 7 of Thomas W. Jones' book,
plus I have also re-read the Quick Lesson 16 and Conclusion or Confusion.  
Practise, practise, practise..........!  I am working on applying this
to a few "sticky situations" in my tree, and will continue on with writing 
my "current thinking" on each of the relationships in the four generations.

  3. Start planning your summer vacation. Check to see which towns of interest to your ancestors are along the route. Make a point to stop by, even if the focus in now research. You will learn much about the lay of the land. For instance, during Ol' Myrt's 1995 research trip to Germans I noticed a striking similarity to the place of origin on the Nckar River valley (east of the Rhein River) and the Tupelhocken Valley of Pennsylvania where my Palatine immigrant ancestor eventually settled. The impact of that familiarity still brings tears to my eyes. The hills rolled about the same, and the familiar orange geraniums grew wild here and there along the roadside in both places.

This is one of the areas in which the "gift of being mobile" has been so nice for genealogy!
This summer, we will spend some time in my place of birth (and my parents' and some of their parents' as well) and also in the place of my husbands' place of birth and the place where his family name ancestors migrated to.  We will continue in our research in each of the places, Michigan and Indiana.  Every summer we try to do some research while we are there.  This year, I hope to find a few divorce records and some probate files.
It always feels so good to be "Home....."

 4. Paper-oriented genealogists need not be confused when filing papers.  It's appropriate to file photos and documents mentioning a female before marriage in her maiden name binder, immediately following the family group sheet where she appears as a child with her parents. Once she is married, the marriage certificate, birth records of children, census records and family portraits are filed in her married name surname binder, after the group sheet where she appears as the spouse/parent in the family. Should she be widowed and subsequently remarried, that information would appear in the surname binder for her subsequent husband. 

When you reprint the family group sheet where she appears as a child with her parents, the name of her spouse will be shown. This provides the reference to the new family group sheet where she appears as the mother/spouse reflecting her new family situation.               

*** A NOTE:
There have been no further weekly checklists added, and so
it seems that our Get Organized project is either finished, 
or put on a shelf for now.

I will try to continue with the blog
as I continue to 
Tip-toe through our Generations!

Have a great weekend and "Till Later"
from Abbeville, South Carolina.........


Friday, April 1, 2016

FINALLY: Get Organized!, March 6th-12th, 2016

Sunday, March 06, 2016

FINALLY Get Organized! 6th-12th Mar Checklist

Here in the United States we celebrate March as Women's History Month, so let's focus on the wives of your first four generations in your family tree. We've got some simple rules to follow that will make things a lot easier for you in the long run.


  • If the christening record of a child list "John and Mary Smith" then you are to enter "Mary" as the given name, leaving the surname field blank. 
  •  If the marriage record lists "John Smith" as the groom and "Mary Morgan" as the bride, then you may begin to construe that "Morgan" was Mary's maiden name. Is this always true? Well, be sure to see if "spinster" is listed, meaning she had never married.
  • With this same couple, never list Mary as "Mary Smith" as that implies you know her maiden name is Smith. Indeed it is possible that a woman marries a man with the same surname, but that is usually an exception. Think of Megan Smolenyak who married a man whose surname is Smokenyak. She then became known as Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak. Like I said, highly unusual.
  • If you do not know the given name for "_____________ Morgan" merely list her surname as "Morgan." In other words, do not assume anything.
  • It isn't necessary to use the terms like "unknown" for either the given name or the maiden name.
  • Do not refer to an unnamed wife as Mrs. John Smith, as this is confusing, particularly when the gentleman in question was a remarried widower.
It would be much easier if the women of the world
merely kept their birth name 
after marriage.

  1. Enter the names as you know them for the wives of the first four generations in your family tree. These may be your mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and so-forth.

Done.  Each of the wives are listed, with their maiden names;
Dorothy Ellen Carlson Dostal (my mother); Lila Mae Cooper Carlson Fredericks (my mother's mother); Mable Irene Parmelee Cooper (my mother's maternal grandmother); Anna Cristina Karlson Carlson (my mother's father's mother); Evelyn Frances Gaffney Dostal (my father's mother); Etta Flood Gaffney (my father's maternal grandmother); Caroline Meyer Dostal (my father's paternal grandmother).

  2. If you have the names for the spouses of your ancestor's brothers and sisters, go ahead and enter their names as you understand them. Remember we are concentrating on just the first four generations, so we are assured of assimilating high-quality principles of data entry, citing of sources, analysis and correlation of information items within each source and overcoming conflicting information when arriving at conclusions about individual and family identity.

I have had about 75% success with this, 2 of my great grandparents who came from Germany are incomplete, both with the known siblings and their spouses.  Also, my great grandmother who immigrated from Sweden had at least 2 siblings, likely more, and I have not found any of their spouses to date.  The browsing in the Swedish records are slow-going....but I have had much success finding birth records and marriage records when I knew the date and area for my ancestors there.  The German records are much more difficult for me, as I have not spent as much time researching how to use them.
  3. Gather with other local genealogists. Back in 1995, when Ol’ Myrt here first began this organization checklist, I was encouraging folks to break out of their comfort zones, and join the local genealogy society. Boy, did I get a lot of flack about it. People didn’t want to join a local society when their ancestors had never lived in the area. But joining the local family history or genealogy society is sort of like joining AA – where we learn we are powerless over paperwork, the internet, burned courthouse and 15 ways to spell names like Smith.

So ask around at the public library and local Family History Center to learn about genealogy society meeting times and dates. Attendance will open up opportunities to meet interesting folks with varied talents and experiences who might be able to help you learn better research techniques.  At the very least, they will understand what it means to be ancestrally challenged by those aggravating brick walls.

IMAGE: Licensed from Adobe Stock.
At my local genealogy societies in Florida, Ol’ Myrt here found friends who are very good with computers and are willing to share their talents with others. During the past 18 years of membership in two local societies, I cannot think of more than five meetings devoted to Florida research. Topics have included:
  • tracing immigrant ancestors
  • report on research trips overseas
  • what's new at our local Family History Center
  • migration patterns
  • New England
  • printing a family history book
  • preserving photos
  • new software options
  • inferential genealogy
  • ordering microfilm
  • websites worth visiting
I attend every meeting and note that during the introductions of new members there is always someone in our society who has experience researching in the area the newbie finds challenging.

I plan on joining the one in Texas where we spend a few months wintering......I have no ancestors from there......but I look forward to the fellowship of genealogists!  I know that I have SOOOO much to learn, and what a fabulous way to grow!  DearMYRTLE, thanks for the boosts that you have given in this organizing series to try new things!  Truly, it has been the push that I needed!

  4. Join an interactive DearMYRTLE hangout.  You know you've been meaning to tune in to the live Mondays with Myrt (Noon Eastern US) or WACKY Wednesday (9pm Eastern US), so you can ask questions in real time, and interact with the participants. It is much easier now that we've enabled logging in via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. You'd only need to use your Google account if you wish to be a panel participant. Here's where you register for the hangouts each week:  

We will be discussing this week's checklist during our Mondays with Myrt hangout. 

Here's the link to the calendar of other upcoming DearMYRTLE genealogy hangouts:

I have not been "at the right place at the right time" to be able to join one of the hangouts live, but I have finally been able to listen to several after-the-fact!  I am hoping in April that we will have Internet without limits and with plenty of strength, so hope to be able to sit in soon!
Check out all previous DearMYRTLE's Finally Get Organized! Checklists.

Please note: the above information (apart from my answers in red) has been
copied and pasted from DearMYRTLE's website.  If you have not visited her site before,
I am sure that you will find it so interesting!  

Beautiful Texas skies!


Blue Bell Ice Cream serving station at the DAIRY PALACE in Canton, TX

Have a great week!
I am off to "tip-toe through a few generations!"

Friday, March 4, 2016

Great Grandma's Leg

~Great Grandma’s Leg~

Great Grandma Cooper was my mother’s mother’s mother!  That makes her your Great, Great, Great Grandma!  Her name was Mable Irene Parmelee, and when she married Jay Cooper, she became Mable Irene Parmelee Cooper.  I was very fortunate to be able to know Grandma Cooper very well. 

Grandma Cooper only had 1 leg.  She lost her other leg when she was around 10 or 11.  What happened???  Mable was born in 1881, so it was around 1892 when she was seriously hurt and had surgery. 

 Grandma Cooper loved to run and ride her bike, just like you . . . . 
One day, Mable was outside and was riding her bike.  She ran into the pump in the yard and cut her leg below her knee.  (In the year 1892, most people did not have plumbing in their homes.  Their source of water was from a pump that was in their yard.  The pump was about 3-4 feet tall with a spigot on one side and a long handle on the other side.  They would have to hold the handle and pump it up and down to bring water up to the spigot, and it would flow out). The cut was pretty bad.  Her Mom and Dad cleaned up her leg and bandaged her up.  The cut was very deep, and soon, Mable had a serious infection that became gangrene.  Gangrene can be life-threatening if it is not taken care of immediately.

Mable’s parents took her to the doctor in town.  It was decided that her leg would need to be amputated just below the knee.  That was Mable’s first surgery.  She went home with her Mom and Dad.  Her leg was trying to heal, but . . . .  as it turned out, the gangrene had spread much further than the doctor had realized.  And so, Mable found herself back on the surgical table.  The doctor had to remove more of her leg, up above the knee.
Back home she went with her parents.  I am sure that her younger sisters and brothers were so excited to see her!  This time, her leg healed properly and well. 

Grandma Cooper had a “prosthesis,” a false leg section that was made for her.  She had this made as an adult.  She seldom used it, she said that it gave her pain.  She much preferred the crutches that she used for most of her life.  She could move as quick as most of us, and with her crutch, her reach was way beyond ours!  In the last few years of her life, Grandma Cooper began using a wheelchair, but she was in her 90’s! 

Mable Irene Parmelee Cooper, photo taken about 1918.

Can you imagine how it must have been for Mable, learning how to get around with only 1 leg?  She would go up and down stairs, carry babies, clean house.  Grandma Cooper used to remind me that I could do anything that the Lord had in mind for me to do, and she would tell each of you that…… 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

~The Arsenic Laced Shortcake~

[A few years ago, a cousin and I decided to see if we could find the “real story” behind some of the family stories that we had grown up with.  This is one of the stories that we researched.]

                This Family Story is one that I do not remember hearing as a child, or even as a teen.  Perhaps I had heard it, and forgotten, or perhaps blocked it out.  Dad was re-telling some of the stories that I love to hear, and he said something to the effect that of course I knew about the Shortcake. . . . .  which of course I did not, so, he repeated the story for me.  How could I not have known this family tale, or remembered it!

            My cousin, Rob, and I began by writing down all that we could recall about this tragic story (with some corrections and direction from Rob’s mom, my Aunt Nancy).  The story was about our Grandma (Evelyn, my father’s mother) as a young bride, married just over 1 month.  She wanted to fix a nice dessert for the family, and decided upon Strawberry Shortcake.  Alas, there was no baking powder to be found in the kitchen.  Grandma Caroline (Evelyn’s mother-in-law) went on the search for some baking powder, and she found some in the shed that someone had mistakenly put there, and brought it in for Grandma Evelyn to use so that her shortcakes would rise nicely.

My Grandparents, Fred and Evelyn Dostal.  This photo was taken about a month before "the incident."

This is my Great Grandmother, Caroline Meyer Dostal.
             Grandma Evelyn set to making a delicious dinner and lovely dessert.  At dinner there was my Grandma Evelyn and Grandpa Fred (Fred was the husband of Evelyn and father of my father), Great Grandma Caroline (Fred’s mother) and Great Uncle John Meyer, Grandma Caroline’s elder brother.  The family version of the story related that everyone got extremely sick and Uncle John died!  Thankfully, Aunt Helen, the sister of Fred and daughter of Caroline, came by late that evening for something, and she found everyone very ill.  Apparently the Sheriff had to come out and do an investigation, and it was decided that no crime had been committed……  I could only imagine my Grandma’s sorrow and humiliation.  However, Daddy had told me the story, and I had never heard Grandma speak of the incident.

            And so, Rob and I set out to find what was fact, and what was fiction. . . . . . .  Through newspaper research online, and Aunt Nancy getting copies made from newspapers on microfilm at the Library, we have the documented story as written in the paper, The Ludington Daily News.  Here is a transcribed copy:

Arsenic Is Mistaken for Baking Powder
Mrs. Chas. Dostal, Her Son Fred and His Bride, All Were Near Death.
Prosecutor Fitch Finds Accident Responsible; Tragedy Explained.
Arsenic, mistaken for baking powder and used in a strawberry shortcake for supper, caused the death of John Meyer, 80 years, and endangered the lives of his sister, Mrs. Charles Dostal; her son Fred Dostal and his bride of a month, Evelyn Gaffney Dostal, who made the shortcake at the family home in Amber township Monday afternoon.
     Mrs. Dostal and her son were critically ill at noon today.  Dr. C. M. Spencer of Scottville told The News he is hopeful they will survive.  The young wife was almost out of danger, he said.

Search For Baking Powder.

     “Mother, where is the baking powder?” the young bride asked.  “I’ll make strawberry shortcake for supper.”
     A search resulted when the can was not found in its usual place.  Finally, an oldish-looking can was located in the woodshed.
     “Here’s a can three-quarters full, “said the mother.  “It looks kind of old, but I never heard of baking powder spoiling.”
     The shortcake was made and all four ate of it.  It didn’t taste first-class but Mr. Meyer, a hearty eater, ate all his share.  The mother, Fred and his wife left some of theirs.

Cheese Blamed First.

     Fifteen minutes later when chores were being done, Mr. Meyer complained of feeling sick.  Mrs. Dostal, senior, said her stomach didn’t feel right.  The trouble was attributed to cheese they had eaten for supper.  This was found to be er-  (cont’d. pg. ?, col. 1)


(Continued from Page One)
roneous when Fred Dostal recalled he had eaten a cheese sandwich in the afternoon and suffered no ill effects.
     Then they spoke of the shortcake not tasting right and an examination was made of the contents of the pan.
     Fortunately, when all were becoming very ill Miss Helen Dostal, sister of Fred, arrived home.  She had taken some strawberries to Ludington and had remained with her brother, William Dostal of 408 North Gaylord avenue, for supper.  She summoned Dr. Spencer.  He remained with his patients all night.  Mr. Meyer passed away at 4 o’clock this morning.

Bought Seven Years Ago.

     “I recall purchasing powdered arsenic seven or eight years ago and having it in a baking powder can,” Will Dostal told the news.  “I kept it and paris green in a small shed that adjoined the corn crib.  This building has been torn down since I lived on the farm.  The can was probably carried into the woodshed at that time.  I used an arsenic solution on seed corn to kill crows.”
     Prosecutor V. A. Fitch and assistant Coroner George E. Dorrell conducted an investigation.  The prosecutor was satisfied that death resulted from an accident.
     John Meyer observed his eightieth birthday anniversary on June 2, last.  He was a native of Germany and came to Ludington more than 40 years ago.  He worked in the saw mills and then bought a farm in Pere Marquette township east of creamery corners.  Twenty-two years ago he sold this house and bought another farm in Amber township where he made his home with his youngest son Louis, until his death three years ago.  Then he spent some time with his son, Riley, at Kingsley, but came to the home of his sister last September.

Four Sons Survive Him.

     Surviving are four sons:  Fred and Gust, of Detroit; Herman C., banker and general merchant of Boyne Falls, and Riley of Kingsley.  One daughter, Miss Emma Meyer, lives in Chicago.  Mrs. Dostal is his only sister.
     Fred Dostal and Miss Evelyn Gaffney were married but one month ago.  Miss Gaffney was a well known Mason county school teacher.

The Ludington Daily News
Tuesday, July 1, 1924
Page 1; Column 1

Transcribed by D. Biggs on 3 Feb 2011.

So, the story as we had heard, was really an abbreviated version of what happened.  It breaks my heart that Grandma lived with that for her whole adult life, I hope that she forgave herself, and knew that everyone else did too.  One of my brothers who lives close to the area hopes to find a copy of the police report, if public access.

Bless Their Hearts!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

FINALLY: Get Organized! Week 9

A fun and creative week for our homework!  

It's Storytime!!!!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

FINALLY Get Organized! 28th Feb-5th Mar Checklist

FINALLY Get Organized! 28th Feb-5th Mar Checklist

So as we approach this week's organization checklist, let's take a break and actually start sharing.

Let's step away from the overwhelming task of comparing our digital and paper files. Let's quit fussing about where to file things about a woman before or after marriage, or what to do with your ancestor's in-laws info that fell into your lap late last year. Let's go so far as to shelve our worries about what to do with our Family Tree Maker Files during this transition period. Let's SHARE our family history in small, manageable bites at a time, so as to not choke our family members at the very thought of another "genealogy lecture."

  1. Let's take this week to tell 1 family history story per day, just for the fun of it! Rejoice in the freedom to share your memories with others. It could be:
  • A childhood memory
  • Something you remember about your Dad
  • A memory of your mother who always said _______________.
  • A school field trip.
  • Summer trip to visit ______________.
  • Why you love to eat ______________, when initially you didn't like it one bit.
  • Something your grandmother told you about her parents.
  • Your grandfather's opinion about _____________.
  • Something one of your children did when he was two or three.
  • The story of how you broke your arm, or skinned your knee, but it was totally worth it.
  • What grandpa said life was like when he was a child.
  • The house where your grandparents first lived.
  • The silly family story about ______________.
  • How saving for _____________ was the hardest thing you ever did.
  • What surprised you to learn about your grandmother's mother.
  • Great Uncle ______ who went to war.

 2. Mix it up a little. Anyone can write an email, but is that what will really make the "younger set" get excited about the family stories you've collected? Consider:
  • Setting 3-5 photos and documents on the kitchen table each day, then ask a grandchild or some other youngster in your neighborhood to record your with your smart phone. Upload the file to your free YouTube or FamilySearch account, and share the link to the video with your family and closest friends. For more info see:

  • If you are lucky enough to have inherited an old quilt, pair of glasses, a rocking chair or desk from your parents or grandparents, why not share the story of that treasure? Believe me, it's going to become a treasure when  your great-grandchildren can hear your voice as you tell about someone one or two generations older than you are.

So go on! Let's SHARE. You can bet Ol' Myrt will be doing this as well.

Soooooo, this week I will do my homework just a bit differently.
I will add a story for each day to this blog.
Some of the stories are ones that I have worked on already, 
but will add them here, as well as send them to each of our grandchildren
(and to our children as well......  :-) )
A few years ago, a cousin of mine and I set out to
"prove or disprove" some of the family
stories that we were told during our growing up years.
I felt that it was important to not only find the 
truth of the story, but also to save the original stories,
as they are a part of our history.....

FINALLY: Get Organized! Week 8!

Today is the 1st of March. . . . how can that be!!!!
We have completed week 8 of our Organization project!
This week we are adding siblings
to our genealogy programs,
with their documentation.

We've been working very hard so far this month in our FINALLY Get Organized! Checklists, so this week Ol' Myrt here is going to make this a little easier for you. We're going to take on the concept of siblings.

Some folks say they only compile information on their direct line parents, grand-parents and great-grandparents. Indeed we've only been working on the male lines, with a smattering on the female side of the family.

The very best genealogy break-throughs Ol' Myrt here has had have come from someone who descends from the brother or sister of my direct-line ancestors.

This is so true!  I have found
ancestors who were missing in census records
living with siblings, plus collaborated with the descendants of
siblings to break through some of our walls.....

  1. Add the names and compiled dates of birth, marriage and death for your 4 generations on your surname (if male) or maiden name (if female) in your genealogy management program This will make it easier to also attach group images you've already scanned to the other people in the photo. The same goes for obituaries where siblings are listed with their spouses.
For paper-centric genealogists, you'll now need to reprint the 4 family group sheets where:
  • You and your siblings now show up with your parents.
  • Your father and his siblings now show up with their parents.
  • Your grandfather and his siblings now show up with their parents.
  • Your great-grandfather and his siblings now show up with their parents, if known.

Siblings added with their vital records in place
and working on those citations.--- CHECK!

 2. If it takes more than one document to prove a point of fact about an ancestor's life, then attach the relevant documents, and under "notes" for the event or fact place a "written conclusion" about those multiple sources for one fact in your genealogy software. What's a written conclusion? It could be a simply proof statement, proof summary or more complex proof argument explaining why you believe your conclusion about this one fact accurately reflects your current thinking" about that facet of your ancestors life.
...Hoping to have at least one written conclusion done today 
and I will
add the conclusion here when it is done.

EXTRA CREDIT - Watch DearMYRTLE's The Written Conclusion Study Group (2015) based on Chapter 7 of Thomas W. Jones' Mastering Genealogical Proof  (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013). [Book available from the publisher at , also available in Kindle format, described here.]

This is on my "to watch" list..... when we
have internet availablity.
In the meantime, I am re-reading chapter 7 of 
Thomas W. Jones' book.

Happy March

 from here in