Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mystery Photo- B.L. Miller of Minnesota

I recently purchased this neat photograph from an antique shop.

Someone has written Mr & Mrs B.L. Mill[er] on the front 
And on the backside- Mrs Emma Miller Minneapolis

I haven't looked into trying to figure out the identity of "B.L" or Emma... But it'd be wonderful to reunite this great photograph with a family member to cherish it.

Google Friend Connect Changes---

The Dead Relative Collector appreciates all of you regular readers! However, due to some changes that Google has made with the way Google Friend Connect works-- some of you may no longer get the updates that you used to!

If you used anything other than a Google account to sign up, your account was deactivated! 

You can review the full press release they posted here.

There are a number of different options to follow The Dead Relative Collector, if you choose not to create a new Google Friend Connect account-- you can sign up for email updates or even follow the Facebook Page where all blog postings are shared... along with other genealogical related items.

Thanks for your support of The Dead Relative Collector & other blogs--- You are appreciated! 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

TBT- Photos of Yesteryear- Irving Maine

Spotlighting vintage photos from my large photo archive
This week it is-

Irving Clayton Maine [1858-1928]
oldest brother to my Great-Great Grandfather
Ralph Maine [1872-1939]

Irving was the second child [and first son] born to Erastus & Eliza (Pierce) Maine. He was born in Rice County, Minnesota where his family had taken refuge following increased uprisings from local Native American peoples in Faribault County. Later he returned home with his family.

Irving married Emma Thompson, and they had 3 sons-- Glade, Glen & Basil. They lived & farmed north of Winnebago, MN for many years.

In 1928, Irving died unexpectedly from heart problems. Emma remained on the farm until her death in 1941. Today, a Great-Grandson lives on the family homestead.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

PLEASE! Link Your DNA Results To A Tree~

Yes. For The Love of God, Link Those DNA Results to a Tree

If you've dipped your toes into the well of DNA genealogy, especially via Ancestry, you know the hair pulling frustration of having pages of results with "No Tree". WHAAATTTT?

My maternal Grandma has many brick walls in her lineage that I've been slowly chipping away at for over 20 years now. I had her DNA tested last year... it yielded some surprising results--- which I've covered a couple of times in previous posts--- feel free to check them out if you haven't--
So I am NOT exactly who I thought I was...?
I'm STILL Not Who I Thought I Was... Thanks DNA

Since Grandma has over 300 4th or closer cousins [yes, 300!], there were a lot of "cousins" to get in touch with.

Of course, most of her 3rd cousins [the closest], 
had... "No Tree".  UGH. How exasperating. Truly. 
So, I promptly sent off messages to all those "No Tree" kin of mine. [Cue chirping crickets].

Now, I feel that I should insert a disclaimer here. While a member of Ancestry for a number of years now, I had no interest in using Ancestry to maintain a family tree of my own.

Since I began my genealogical quest in the 1990s... before the Internet or even widely used computers... I had tons of paper [which is another post!], and lots of tangible research.

I used a computer and genealogy software in my research. But, I never cared for the idea of an Ancestry tree. Just my personal preference. For various reasons.

BUT. Here is the big BUT. When I purchased my DNA test kit in late 2014, I decided that I wanted a "bare bones" tree on Ancestry, to assist in my DNA connections.

So I grabbed my "Pedigree Binder".... which is a binder that I have my whole Pedigree printed out into, and began enter it into Ancestry. And just like that, I had my DNA Family Tree.

Over the last year, I have linked some of the "hints" to my tree. I've found it a nice way, for now, to organize some of those digital resources I'd like to revisit... or be able to find with ease.

I completely understand the argument that some folks make about not liking their data to be "harvested" & added incorrectly to other trees, etc. That is far to easy [and prevalent] it seems. I have thousands & thousands of photographs, documents & other genealogical records. I will not be scanning them & adding them to my ancestry tree.

That isn't required in having a tree. What's this you say?
Yes. You can have a very minimal Ancestry tree that contains nothing more than Names, Years, Locations. Basically, information that is already found floating around in the Ancestry Universe.... just not linked to you or your DNA!

Don't worry. I haven't forgotten the people who have taken a test that don't know who their ancestors are! There are adopted folks, or people who are unsure about paternity, etc. that have taken tests. You testers are not forgotten... you are sympathized with greatly. This article is not for you.

This is for the "I don't want Ancestry to have my tree" folks!
Calm down. Don't attack!
Last year, I was one of you as well.... 
and still am to some degree.

So... if you're thinking about going a DNA test with Ancestry... please consider creating at least a bare bones tree. You'll get far greater results connecting with people, when they have something to see!

If you've already done a test.... and are a "No Tree" individual... consider making a 4 or 5 generation skeletal pedigree to connect with your test. It won't take much time... and may yield great results!?

And for the rest of us... those who are at times violently angry with those "No Tree"  and no response people.... Relax. Take a break. It is what it is.

Remember that some people may not have a tree [think adoption]
Or some people took a test out of curiosity... and nothing more [Odd, I know]
And even "genealogists" have varying degrees of interest & activity. 

So have a little understanding for the "No Tree" folks in your matches...
And if you can help it... don't be a "No Tree" yourself!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Southern Minnesota- Mystery Photo

This photograph was in with a number of snapshots belonging to my Great-Grandmother.

It is likely that it was taken in Southern Minnesota or Northern Iowa

I'm not sure if he is related to our family... or if he is just a friend?

It's also intriguing to try & figure out where he's at???

There is a possibility he is connected to the George, Bruce or Averill families

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Unspeakable Loss of Children~

What do we call Parents who have lost a Child?

Some of the great tragedies we encounter while researching genealogy are the deaths of children and infants – without a doubt, we all have them in our families.

2 brothers died in December 1904, during
a Diphtheria epidemic.
I’ve always been interested in documenting these sometimes ‘lost children’ – perhaps because my first foray into genealogy was when I found the headstone of a baby with my Mother’s maiden name – And sadly some of  these ‘lost’ or ‘forgotten’ children are just that... forgotten.

Remember when you spotted that previously unknown sibling of a grandparent on a census? 

Or the 1900 census which lists the number of children born to a mother and the number of living children… 

Often infant deaths did not make official records – They may not have been issued birth/death certificates (or happened prior to record keeping) – and burial may have been at home or in a cemetery and unmarked – perhaps a mention was made in a local paper – but years ago pregnancy was a very private time and hence the birth and/or death of a child could be as well – especially in the case of infant death and stillbirths.

Nellie, the little girl in this photo. died at age 12,
in a Diphtheria epidemic. This is the only known
photograph of her. She died in 1904. 
Young children and teenagers also died of childhood illnesses and in other epidemics. Though these older children often had a chance to make their mark in the record books… and perhaps even sat for a photographer!  These longer lives also gave the chance for people to remember them and tell stories.

The loss of children is an unimaginable pain and often I think the pain of this loss caused parents and family to not talk easily of the child… and before long people forgot….

I’ve always found it interesting that when you lose your parents you become an orphan – and when you lose a spouse you become a widow/widower – but when you lose a child – you are called nothing – it’s as if the idea is so inconceivable and unbearable, there is no word that could ever describe it.

So when I come across a child who died young, I go the extra research mile – to fill in the details of its brief life. From vital records to final resting place – to the most cherished, a photograph!

1890s newspaper article, mentioning
death of a small baby

One hundred or two hundred years ago, I can’t imagine the difficulties of daily life – especially for pioneer settlers traveling to uncharted territories – nor can I imagine the fear and helplessness when a baby or young child was struck with illness – or the heavy heart the parents would carry when the unthinkable happened.

What do you do with the lost children of your family? 
Do you do anything special to memorialize 
these sad tragedies?
What unique research tools have your used to fill in the missing details?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Southern Minnesota- Mystery Photo- St. Peter, MN

I recently obtained this photograph from an antique shop. It comes from a St. Peter, Minnesota photography studio.

The backside has the following names listed, 
It seems from left to right these gentlemen are--

M. Martinson
O. Bloom
J.P. Nordstrom
A. Green
J. Hoffer (?)

 I have no idea what the occasion might be that brought these men together for this neat formal photograph.... or if they are related, friends, or members of a particular group.

It'd be nice to learn the full identities of the subjects, and get this photo returned to a relative who will treasure it

Thursday, January 14, 2016

TBT- Photos from Yesteryear- Anna Weerts Cramer

Spotlighting photos from my extensive photo archive
This week it is

Anna Weerts [1907-1973] & Frank Cramer [1909-1995]
On their wedding in 1937

Anna Weerts was born in rural Martin County and was the youngest of 10 children, the oldest being my Great-Grandfather, who was 21 years older than her. As a young girl, Anna moved with her parents to Cass County, North Dakota... where she eventually married Frank. They lived there until her death from cancer in 1973.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I'm STILL Not Who I Thought I Was... Thanks DNA

What happens when your DNA test come back with some surprising results?!

Early in 2015, I had my DNA tested... and the results were not exactly as I had expected (hoped for!). The rumblings of paternal questions a few generations back in my pedigree, were proven to be true.

This was disappointing on many levels. 

Not only did I spend over 20 years researching the wrong family lines, but my complete identity was called into question. I would no longer claim to be a large percent Irish, among other things. Besides the years of research I put into that line of my family, I also made it a point to know & care about members of that extended family... people that I now know, I have no blood connection to.

You can see my earlier post about the DNA conundrum here, which I posted shortly after initially finding out the results... Before I'd fully processed what I'd learned... or figured out how I was going to proceed.

And even though many months have now passed. I'm still not entirely sure how I want to proceed.

Unlike many people with "non-paternal events" in their pedigree, I was fortunate enough to know who the paternal possibilities were (yes, there were more than one if I were to believe the rumors). And it was clear to see from DNA matches, which family was actually mine. So I don't have to contend with solving the mystery of "Who was Daddy?".  I just have to process the fact that Daddy isn't who I spent 20 years thinking he was, and of course reconfigure a whole branch of my genealogical research.

This revelation, coupled with a very busy Spring, Summer & Autumn caused my genealogical quests to screech to a halt for the most part. Even before the big DNA upheaval, I was experiencing a large, ongoing shift in my genealogical archive. Mounds of paper, photos, notes, binders, and projects have overwhelmed me for a few years now. (Yes, that's not a typo-- YEARS).

It's an overwhelming endeavor to "redo" 20+ years of genealogy.... especially when the last 5 years or so mostly consisted of "acquiring" vs. "maintaining". 

But, plans for massive reorganization were a huge part of my 2016 New Year's Resolutions... and now I have a new branch to add to the fold.

The DNA aspect of genealogy has exploded in popularity in the last couple of years. I suspect that over the next two months hundreds (or even thousands?!) of people will be getting DNA results from test kits they received as gifts over the Holidays... 

What about you?
Have you had your DNA tested?

Did you have any surprises?
Are you prepared for the possibility of a surprise?

I was aware of the possibility, and it still threw me off.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Mystery Photo- John Borgos- Faribault Co, MN

I recently obtained this interesting photo in an antique shop. It is of a floral arrangement, and the ribbon reads "At Rest".

On the back side, someone wrote "Flowers of John Borgos  March 4th, 1911    Photo by C.J. Hansen"

After a brief bit of research, I find that John Borgos, resident of Faribault County, Minnesota died 24 February, 1911. 

The date of this photo would indicate that these flowers are from his funeral. 

This neat old cabinet card, which does have some age & wear, should really be reunited with a family member who will treasure it. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

TBT Photos from Yesteryear-- Beatrice Mapson Sturm

Spotlights from my extensive photo collection
This week it is

My Great-Grandmother
Beatrice (Mapson) Sturm  

This early 1900s portrait was among the belongings of Beatrice's Grandmother Sarah Mapson

Beatrice Mapson was born, raised & lived in Martin County, Minnesota her entire life. Married at 20 years old to John Sturm, they raised 3 children. 

In frail health after suffering a stroke, Beatrice passed away from complications at only 46 years of age.

2016 Genealogy New Year's Resolutions!

We're officially into the first week of a New Year! 

The Holiday hub-bub is now behind us... we've put away the Holiday decor, found a home for our new presents, and perhaps returned home or to work after a Holiday style vacation or time away.

It all happened SO fast! 

Here in Minnesota, most of us enjoyed a very UN-Winter like December... which was nice for a change! [Thank you El-Niño]. Hopefully, you managed to avoid all the unhealthy crud being passed around [The Dead Relative Collector was down & out for some weeks with it].

But, now it is time to think about the upcoming year... and all the things we have to do, want to do, should do, need to do, and very well might not do. 

Do you have any Genealogical New Year's Resolutions? What are they?

The Dead Relative Collector always has a few every year... [most years, I could just copy & paste the list]. However, I have designated 2016 as THE year that I accomplish things. And I'm really excited for it. 

2016 Genealogy New Year's Resolutions 

1. Organize Organize Organize

For many genealogists, this is a continuing battle. Especially long time researchers, who began in the pre-Internet days, when it was PAPER PAPER PAPER. You recent digital only hobbyists probably don't understand. Lucky you.

While not actually my office, the look was very similar!
Before I could even think about organizing better in my genealogy, I had to tackle my home office/study... 

Which had taken on the appearance of an episode of Hoarders. Yikes. So my New Year began with tackling the general mess. And I've made great strides. [Taking time for a coffee break this morning, to get this article launched].

Basically, my organization goals are simple.
- What do I have
- Where did I get it
- What else do I need/want
- Where does it go

In the Genealogy world-- Dear Myrtle has been a mainstay for many many years. Showing up in our earlier publications & Internet world.  If you have "Organization" as one of your goals in 2016 [and let's face it, you should], you need to check our her 'FINALLY Get Organized' challenge for 2016. The first weekly installment just came out on Sunday. I think it's going to be great and am excited for it.

What's your organization plan for 2016?

2. Obtain Documents I Know Exist

Over years I have obtained many many many official vital records for my famiy. HOWEVER, there are some vitals for direct ancestors that I have not. In most cases they are early 1860-1900 documents that I know exist [often I've viewed them], but since I gleamed what I thought was important from them, I didn't get an actual copy.

I decided I'd better change my ways! There are ever changing laws on what documents are available to genealogists... not to mention ever changing & increasing fees. So I'm making a list of the "important" records I know are out there, and getting them this year. While I still can.

What about you? Do you still have documents [not on Ancestry!], that need to be obtained from a brink 'n mortar Courthouse? 

3. Overhaul Binder & Filing System

This is somewhat related to my #1 Get Organized resolution, but a whole other project in itself. Since I'm mostly a paper genealogist, I use binders & files to store/organize/display my research. Some binders & files were started over 20 years ago... and some family lines haven't been nearly as researched as others.... and they could use a serious overhaul.

So once I've organized via #1... I plan to thoroughly update & reconfigure all of my books. I see this as a great way to find holes in my research and other things I'd not considered before [or since 1995].

Luckily, I had the foresight to think about this project months ago... and was able to snag a bunch of nice binders at seriously discounted post-back to school office supply sales! [Woo Hoo]

What about you? Does your filing system [paper, digital, etc] need an overhaul?

4. DNA Results--- Examine, Understand, Research

In 2015, I had my DNA tested through Ancestry. I also had the DNA of my 2 living Grandparents & my Father tested. So let me tell you, there are A TON of results in my DNA profile pages.

I've slowly went through the results & tried to determine where & how we might be connected. But it's a slow process. My Grandma alone has over 270 third & fourth cousins... and with all the mystery brick wall ancestors in her line, it will take a long time to figure out some of the connections, if ever!

If you haven't tested your DNA, I strongly encourage you to do so. And to get a tree up [even the barest skeletal direct line] so folks can compare & connect with you. After all, that is the idea, right?

5. Enjoy My Living Relatives!

Say What?! You mean log off Ancestry and plan a coffee date or enjoy a phone call with a living, breathing relative?! Yes. I do.

I have A LOT of extended family. Some of them I like quite a lot. So 2016 is the year that I plan to really appreciate them. The older generations are quickly fading... and before long I won't have anyone from then to even spend time with. A nice chat, sharing some old [unidentified?] photos, making memories-- and remembering old times. That all fleshes out our genealogy research.

Not to mention, I'm lucky to have at least one genealogist cousin on each  side of my family. So I'm going to step it up and engage with these fellow researchers too.

I'm also well into planning a large family reunion for one branch, for the Summer of 2016. 

What about you? Do you have living breathing relatives you've neglected? 
Maybe a family reunion is on your list for this New Year? Or maybe it should be?

Of course... like other genealogists, The Dead Relative Collector has plenty of other "projects" and "To Dos"... but these are the ones I've prioritized in a way that I feel is obtainable.

Of course I want to continue my genealogical education and attend some seminars and webinars.... read articles & blogs that pertain to me & my research. Continue in rescuing & reuniting lost family heirlooms & items [a common subject for regular readers here]... and a host of others things in the genealogical world.

What are your plans for the New Year?
Do you have any genealogy resolutions? 
And if so, what's your plan of action?