23 April 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday: Mother Daughter Rings

Remember the post High School Rings Have Two Sides? In that post, I shared how I wore my mother's high school ring while I was in high school. When I obtained my senior ring, I didn't want to stop wearing my mother's ring. That ring was now a part of me, just as my own ring would now become.

Generations of High School Rings
Daughter on left and Mother on right

As I pondered the last post "Telling A Story" I thought about the story of the mother/daughter high school rings. Thankfully, a little something told me to photograph both of them together.

You can now see that I attempted to mimic my mother's ring design. Most of the folks in my high school class had a 'plain' stone in their setting. I specifically searched through the ring options catalog for a "K" crest representing my high school. I wanted something resembling the "S" on mom's ring. I did choose a more ornate design that mom's, meaning I had my name on the ring, my interests (flag corps and band), and a stone. Mom's was simple and mine was more over the top. However, I love the two rings together. These were the two rings that I wore as a senior in high school and into my college years. They represent mom and me.

Bad ring grouping
Great idea, but it didn't work.

I had seen an idea of placing two rings together in such away that they are 'joined' but distinct. I'll admit this was a wedding photographer tip. I think the tip would work for a man's ring and a woman's ring. Unfortunately, my rings were very similar in size and positioning them together didn't play out well. Additionally, my ring began to look more like a man's ring and my mother's a woman's ring. The story is mother/daughter. I did not like the vibe I was feeling from attempting this arrangement.

It's okay to try out suggestions from a variety of sources. It's okay to fail. There is much learning gained the process.

22 April 2015

Power Scrapbooking: Labeling Hard Copy Photos

How many of you have a stack of photos that looks like this?

Unorganized Photo Drama
Aaackkk!!! They're everywhere!

For the vast majority of folks with this kind of photo collection, your photos are on slick photo paper. The proper term is a coated paper. In any case, what you need in order to label these photos is NOT A BALL POINT pen!!!

Chances are, you had some relatives (or yourself) who wrote on the photos with a ball point pen and it created indents on the other side of the photo. Back in the 70s and 80s, archival quality pens were not readily available. If someone has written in ball point pen, praise them for doing their best to record the who, what, and why behind the photos. Things could have been worse. Your mound of photos could have no names, dates, and places and the people who know those facts are no longer living.

If you have photos that are unlabeled you will want to label them. Yes, you'll eventually want to digitize them. For now, label them with an archival quality pen such as the ones sold at Michael's in the scrapbook section by Pigma. You'll notice many of the pens come in a variety of colors and thickness of the pen tip. I prefer a medium-fine tip and the color black.

If your photo collection has really old paper backed photos, you should use a soft lead pencil. One popular archivist pencil is made by Stabilo. You can purchase a pack of 6 for $9.95 from ArchivalMethods.com.

Practice on sheet of paper to see how much pressure you normally write with and determine if you need to be more or less firm when you write on the actual photos. You don't want to smash the tip or press to hard to repeat the ball point 'etching' problems of days gone by.

Label Your Photos... Best Thing for Family History
Label photos with Pigma pens

In an ideal world, you'll label your photos in a clean, dry work space while wearing white, cotton-knit gloves.  If you work in a less than ideal situation, do your best to focus on a flat surface that is dry. You want to reduce the possibility of bending your photos more. Clean and dry your hands well before working. Then be as careful as you can to keep your fingers off the print side of the photo print. (Remember how your mom yelled at you to keep your hands on the edges of your print in the 80s? No? Well, mine did.)

Do the best you can. What is important is that you did your best to label the who, what, and where of a photo on the back so that this information stays together in the future.

For more tips on organizing before you embark on the scrapbooking adventure, order by eBook Power Scrapbooking No Matter Your Scrapbook Style

20 April 2015

One Name Place Study: John Townsend of Truro, Ohio

The hunt for ancestors continue with the 2 of 15 heads of households named in the 1880 US Census with the last name Townsend in Franklin, County.

John Townsend Truro Ohio
"United States Census, 1880,"John Townsend, Truro, Franklin, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district 015, sheet 310B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1015; FHL microfilm 1255015.
In 1880, John and Catherine Townsend and their two boys Joseph and John were living in Truro, Franklin County, Ohio. John Townsend (FS ID: LJY6-82Z) was born in 1814 in Maryland, as were his parents. His wife Catherine was born around 1826 in Ohio, and her parents were also from Maryland. Joseph was born around 1853 and John around 1860. Both were born in Ohio. However, ditto marks by the census maker says the both of the boy's parents were from Maryland. Was Catherine really from Maryland or did the enumerator become ditto mark happy?

If John was related to William James Townsend, he could be a father or even an uncle The states of Maryland and Ohio are often suggested as possible birth plates for William' family. John died in 1890 in Columbus, Ohio. I've traced him back to the 1850 Census, all the while in Truro. William and John do not seem to cross paths.

Conclusion... a possible relationship may exist but needs to be further investigated.

One Name Study: Elizabeth Townsend of Hamilton, Ohio

In the post "Who else was in Franklin County, Ohio in 1880?" I featured 50 Townsends, 17 of which are heads of households. The purpose of the one name study in Franklin County, Ohio is an attempt to find relatives for William James Townsend. This is the first installment of perhaps 15 posts detailing those Townsends of Franklin County.

Elizabeth Townsend 1880 Census Record
Year: 1880; Elizabeth Townsend in household of Geo W Shoaf, Census Place: Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: 1015; Family History Film: 1255015; Page: 186A; Enumeration District: 009; Image: 0475

The first name I wished to examine was Elizabeth Townsend (LJBR-MYD) who was listed in the 1880 US Census in the same town as my great grandfather William. The first thing that jumped out to me was that Elizabeth was born around 1838 in Scotland. Her husband could be born in England, if Isabell's Shoaf's (LZD5-C1C) reference to her father (with Elizabeth being her mother) being born in England is an accurate relationship. She's a widow, which would mean that her Townsend husband died prior to 1880. 

In researching other records, Elizabeth's husband does not appear in the 1870 Census either. Elizabeth is living in Columbus, Ohio at that time. Her daughter Isabelle's second marriage (to George Sherman) mentions that Elizabeth's husband's name is John. At present, I can not find a birth or death record for John Townsend. What's 

I compared this information to the possibility of a relationship to William (KCJH-HJJ). He was 38 and born in Ohio with parents from Ohio. If Elizabeth's Townsend husband was William's brother, Isabel should have said her father was from Ohio, not England. Elizabeth's age would prevent her from being William's mother. Other relationships might be possible, but this path looks like it's not a connection.

One down, 14 more to go. 

18 April 2015

He Created a Monster

Miss Palestine 1997 Devon Geiszler
Being local royalty at Children's Miracle Network
was such an honor and a joy.
My husband created a monster!

I'm working on yet another book! Book writing has become much like the Pringles commercial, "Once you pop, You can't stop."

The newest writing endeavor is a personal memoir about my pageant experiences many years ago. The process has been rewarding and captivating. It is even more enlightening than the things I discovered about myself while scanning.

Here's a recap of the writing steps that I have taken thus far:

Step 1: List all the pageants chronically I competed in.
Step 2: Write down all that I remember from each of those pageants
Step 3: Have the hubby read the 'rough draft' and leave comments
Step 4: Revisit at my old journals to see what I may (or may not) have recorded
Step 5: Type the journaling from the paper pageant scrapbook that I created into a digi file
Step 6: Compile answers from Step 3 and notes for 4-5 into the second draft.

I'm still working on Step 5 and I'm flooded with so many great memories and so many discoveries. This process is therapeutic in many ways. It's crazy how addictive this has become. In fact, I really should be done a number of other things (cleaning in the house perhaps), but I'm drawn to this project. As I close my eyes at night, my mind makes connections from everything I have processed that day. I think of things to add to the note taking process and things to ponder. Who knew what I would be getting into when I embarked on this journey?

Devon Geiszler in High School
Is this girl a future beauty queen?
Far too often, family history takes on a stodgy, boring feel. This shouldn't be the norm. Are there mundane, tiresome tasks in genealogy? Yes. Yet, as I say in 21st Century Family Historian, "If family history isn't fun, you're doing it wrong." In this case, the 'wrong' doing is failing to pick a personally interesting goal.

My goal is simply to tell the story of how a headbanger became a beauty queen and what she learned along the way, and after.

Wait! That's not family history. It's not finding names to add to the tree. It's not indexing. It's not sourcing. It's not finding off line resources. It can't be family history.

That's where you're wrong my dear friend. Family history also includes me, you, and our living relatives. Today's personal history is tomorrow's family history. This project is definitely family history and it's personally interesting to me.

Unlike the one I took to Ohio in 2012, this journey to the past is through my past. I'm revisiting the 14 year-old girl who thought entering a pageant would be a great idea. She wasn't into fashion. She didn't wear make up. I mean, look at that hair! So frizzy and not beauty queen worthy. (Okay, I still have frizzy hair. It's a curse.)

As 14 year-old me is revisited in through photos and previously written materials, old me often says "If I had only known then, what I know now" or "I wish I had taken the time to learn ______." There are other moments when I consider connections and think, "Oh, now I understand what was going on."

Don't Let Descendants Spin Your Story
Are you writing it yourself!
(For More Memes, visit Twisted Twigs on Gnarled Branches Facebook Page)

Ultimately, the richer story is coming to the surface. I could leave this process to my descendants and it would probably look like a typical genealogy fact finding mission:

Devon Geiszler participated in:
1991 Miss Fort Bend County Teen Pageant (did not place)
1992 Miss Fort Bend County Teen Pageant (2nd runner-up)
1993 Miss San Jacinto Teen USA pageant (won)

Maybe the descendants will notice the small events in between these competitions. Maybe they'll only focus on the two I won. This would be tragic. Just because I never won the Miss Teen USA or Miss America title, doesn't mean my experience in pageants didn't impact my life. My pageant story may someday be just as important to my descendants as knowing they are related to someone famous or 'great.'

Ultimately, I hope my posterity never says, "My Grandma Devon was in beauty pageants. I wish she had written more about that."

The trick is, I have to do this without creating a monster out of myself or growing any in a messy home because I was too focused on this project.

16 April 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday: Fraternal Companions

In August 2012, I received two pieces of family treasure that I didn't know existed or would ever become mine. I shared the story of how these two rings came to me on my research trip that year in the post Meeting My Father's Cousins and Getting Priceless Treasures. Good things come to those who are patient.

I thought I would share the two rings together as an added bonus. I love word plays, so I hope the pun on the Mason fraternal organization is intriguing but doesn't set off a viscous grammar police arrest.

Mason and Eastern Star Rings
Grandpa Bob and Grandma Helen Geiszler's Mason and Eastern Star Rings
Grandpa Bob and Grandpa Helen truly loved each other from the time they met while she worked as a waitress to their end of life care in a nursing home after their life changing health issues. They were in complimentary organizations and I love that I have both of these rings as a collection to remember them.

Previously, I shared how the orientation of my two education rings conveyed different messages. I thought when they faced each other, they were competing. When they faced in the same direction, they were united in message.

Mason and Eastern Star Rings
The orientation of the rings tell a story of love and support.
With my grandparents' rings, I prefer the orientation where the rings are facing each other. As husband and wife, Mason and Eastern Star, they look toward each other to support and sustain. With these rings facing, that message is subtle yet clear.

For more tips and strategies for recording the 'stuff' of your ancestors, order my book 21st Century Family Historian.

Heritage Scrapbooking: It's Okay To Fail

I'm going to reveal something few people are comfortable doing. Regardless, I want my readers to learn and they can not do that if I'm not totally honest.

I failed. There, I said it. The author of two eBooks on scrapbooking has failed. Shocking, I know.

I made a scrapbook page and I thought it was lovely until it was printed in a bound book. The page will forever be a reminder of my bad attempt and my children and grandchildren will see it. Okay, I may reprint the scrapbook in the future, but that costs money that would be better spent creating new projects. What to see it?

Oh you're terrible. You really want to see someone's total blunder?'

Bad Scrapbook Color Choices
Bad Scrapbook Color Choices

There are many things that I did right in this layout. Let's start there. First, I have the key elements... photos, story, title. Using the grid pattern and dark mats in those photo spots, I down played the poorly cut photos. I even added lovely embellishments in the blank spots to deemphasize the void where a photo should be.

The papers and embellishments do coordinate well which each other. Before you even read the page, you can guess that it might take place around Christmas time. The title "Tea Time" is juxtaposed with the holiday color scheme creating more interest in the page.

Where did I fail? Either you can't see it or you're being very kind.

The photos are from the 70s and they are a beast to work with. No matter how I tried to run a color correction on these photos, they never improved. I opted to take the photos as is. However the red in the photos is not the same as the red on the layout. Thus, there is MAJOR clashing taking place. I see it now because I know what it looks like in print.

When I saw this page in print I was so disappointed. That much read (and differing red hues) muddled the rest of the colors on this layout. I cringe at this page more so that my spelling errors.

However, I have one thing to say. I'd rather create a scrapbook page that is a flop than never create anything at all. Think about it this way... at least the story is captured.

I truly believe many people do not even attempt heritage projects, be it scrapbooking, narrative histories, and so on, because they do not want to fail. However, the real failure is not creating something and locking up the memories with our ancestors who pass away.

I hope my family will appreciate the story and efforts that went behind my story telling and forgive me if I make poor design choices.


To learn more about Heritage scrapbooking, check out my eBooks available at Amazon.com

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