24 June 2015

Heritage Scrapbooking: Bold Accents

On my Book of Me scrapbook, I selected a large color palette to accommodate the wide range of photos that would be found throughout the years. I found an orange and a teal in the color scheme that I thought would compliment the tinged photos from the late 70s of the Astrodome in Houston, Texas.

Bold Accent Color with 70s Era Scrapbook Layout
Pro Team Tour: Floral Button and teal accent paper- from Starry Summer Night by Arizona Girl; Eyelets from Bloom by Rachel Dickson; Orange Bow, Ribbon, and
accent paper from Becky's Creation; Background paper from Summer Romance by
Sexy and Hot Mama Scrapper

I'm not a big fan of the color orange. The Houston Astros at the time were in white jerseys with a burnt orange color on it. I thought a hint of orange would serve these photos well. I threw in turquoise accents, not because the team was that color, but because they gave the page a sense of pop. For me, it took the emphasis off the color orange and turns the emphasis back to blue which I prefer better. I did toy with color correction in these photos and was able to enhance a number of them. A few, such as the one of my aunt in the middle, were too challenging for me. In print, these photos work well together, because the bold accents are providing a balance.

With heritage scrapbooks (including those featuring yourself), you can use bold colors. Just balance those accents with something that tones them down. That way we don't say... look at those accents and instead, we look at the photos and stories.


For more tips on what goes into a Family History Scrapbook, order my eBook Creating A Family History Scrapbook Digitally in Twelve Simple Steps

17 June 2015

Ask a Family History Consultant, They Can Help You

Did he really say that
Did you know that in Latter-Day Saint Congregations (Mormons) and at Family History Centers around the world, family history consultants would be happy to help you get started discovering your family heritage?

Unfortunately, I recently heard a discouraging remark. It went something along the lines that family history has become so easy you don't need a family history consultant to help you. Knowing the world is filled with family history consultants who would LOVE to help others, this cut deep. 

I'll offer the benefit of the doubt to the person who made the remark. They were probably playing the "it's so easy” card to invite people to be engaged in genealogy; however, they shoot themselves and others in the foot by saying such statements.

For many folks, getting started in family history is anything but easy. 
  • Where to start? 
  • How to start? 
  • Where to focus energy? 
  • How to get from what you know to what you don't know? 
  • How to recognize what you don't know? 
  • What resources are available?

All these questions and more are a trained family history consultants' specialty and passion.

Ask a Family History Consultant They Can Help You


Do you know or remember very little about your grandparents and great grandparents?

 A Family History Consultant can help you.

A family history consultant will be instantly familiar with records that should identify your relative given the sparse information you have. Not only that, consultants may know how to ask you the questions to get answers that will be triggers for records. Getting past the unknown to the known should be a skill of a family history consultant. Ask them, they can help you.

Do you have a full family and you have no idea where to start contributing to the work?

 A Family History Consultant can help you.

A family history consultant will know how to climb your tree and look for clues to potential overlooked branches. They can help you find leads, teach you how to evaluate the leads, and let you know when you've hit a dead end. They may point out possible trouble spots that may need resolved before more research is attempted. They may even direct you in a different direction, such as attaching sources to the names on your tree. Or they'll direct you to to add stories and photos to those on your tree. You never know what leads you'll discover when you head down that path. Ask them, they can help you.


Do you want to be engaged in family history work, but research is not your strong point?

 A Family History Consultant can help you.

A family history consultant can introduce you to indexing. Isn't it easier to finding things in a book that has an index? The same goes for finding records pertaining to family members. Indexing is a service project that family history consultants can walk you through step by step. They would be happy to work with you until you get the hang of it, recommend projects for you and/or your family, and celebrate with you when you reach milestones. They'll even be happy to research questions you may have. Ask them, they can help you.

Do you have a tree that's not as complete as you think it should be or your tree keeps changing?

 A Family History Consultant can help you.

A family history consultant can help you connect with the folks you think should be attached to your family tree but aren't currently. 

A family history consultant should be familiar with the new phase of family history where we create one tree. They can help you determine if the changes where you 'lost' ancestors were valid. They can help you analyze information and restore inappropriate changes and leave good reason statements why changes to FamilySearch.org should be left alone. They can help you see that the line that took you back to Richard the Lionheart was actually full of well documented errors and the shorter pedigree chart is more accurate. If they can not help you see all of this, they can point you to the people who can. Ask them. 


Don't Wait For Them to Find You

Family history is easier than it has been before, but it doesn't mean that it's easy. Family history consultants are still a vital part of helping people get started, analyze problems, and resolve issues with family history. Use them! Contact them with a list of times and dates your are available and set up an appointment with them. Don't wait for them to find you. Go track them down. And if one consultant can't help you, ask another. Go to the family history library. Use the help desk on FamilySearch.org. There are so many consultants willing to help, but they just don't know who needs them. Go to them. Then can help you.


And if you are an LDS Church leader, make sure your consultants have taken the initiative to train themselves to be of service, and then direct people to them.

To find a family history center near you, visit FamilySearch.org. In the upper right corner, click "Get Help" and then "Find Local Help." You will then be promoted to enter in your location and a map will show you the nearest Family History Center, the hours of operation, and contact information. If you are not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints but know a few friends who are, ask them to put you in contact with a family history consultant. You'll make their day!

15 June 2015

One Name Place Study: George Townsend of Columbus Ohio

It's once again time to investigate the Townsends of Franklin County, Ohio in an effort to find relatives of William James Townsend who was born around 1842 in Franklin County, Ohio.

The next individual listed 1880 US Census is George A Townsend. George indicates in this census that he was born around 1840 in New York. His parents are also listed as from New York and he says he was a merchant.

Other household members are Louisa Townsend born around 1840 in New York (parents also from New York).  They have a son Charles W Townsend, who is about 11 in their home. Charles was apparently born in New York as well.

At quick glance, this does not appear as close a relation as I would like to see. William was born in Ohio and several records place his parents from Maryland. George and William are around the same age so the different birth places would rule out the possibility of being brothers. Could they be distant relatives?

I continued to research George and found him in the 7th Ward of Columbus in the 1870 US Census.  The very difficult to read census page indicates that George, Louisa V, and Charles are from New York. George is listed as a tinner though an inscription of "Jour" is beside that entry but I'm not certain if it is a correction or second occupation.

I discovered a death entry for George in a ledger for Franklin County.

George Townsend Cause of Death
George Townsend Cause of Death,
died 
I was unable to read the above cause of death which began 3 days before his passing. The occupation listing for George is also difficult to read. He was either a Tinner or a Trimmer. George died 3 Jul 1900 in Ohio and his body was transported back to New York for burial. He was buried 6 July 1900
in Homellsville Hornellsville, Steuben County (update courtesy of Elizabeth Handler! Thank you.). Call me crazy, but that seems awfully fast to transport the body after a death that far across country. However, Google Maps says a modern route distance of around 378 miles. Maybe that wasn't too far to travel in 1900 to bury a body.

A few interesting facts are that George's son Charles had died in 1891 and his body was also sent to New York for burial. I also discovered the names of George's parents: Watson L Townsend and Annabelle Crane.

The ties to New York  suggests that George is not a close relation of William. However, if I stumble across the names Watson or Annabelle Townsend, I might be able to establish distant cousin relations.

02 June 2015

One Name Place Study: Robert Townsend of Columbus Ohio


It's once again time to investigate the Townsends of Franklin County, Ohio in an effort to find relatives of William James Townsend who was born around 1842 in Franklin County, Ohio.


Robert Townsend Columbus Ohio 1880s
1880 US Census, Columbus, Ohio. Entry highlighted for Robert Townsend.

The next individual listed 1880 US Census in Robert Townsend born about 1842 in Ohio. He is boarding in a home on Front Street in Columbus owned by John Reed (born in Pennsylvania) and his wife Ester (born in Massachusetts). Robert is about 38, is single, and works as a Brick Moulder. Frank Crawford and George Hamilton, who are also living in this residence, are employed with the same craft.

A false trail led me to connect him with a Robert Townsend born in Georgia who died in Oklahoma. Other than this Census entry, I am unable to find Robert in the 1860 or 1870 Census records. The 1900 Census record seems to removed to be certain of his location. I've attempted to search for variations of Robert (R*, Ro*) and Townsend (Townson, Town*). I've attempted to expand the birth year by +/- 10 and take the birth location off. Thus far, I can not find any further record of Robert Townsend born in Ohio who is a brick moulder.

Could he be family? I can not say one way or the other. This record indicates that his father was born in Ohio and his mother in Pennsylvania. The accuracy is uncertain as it's unclear who provided the information to the Census taker.

Tech Tuesday: Finding Cousins With RootsMagic

I have used RootsMagic for a number of years and it just keeps getting better. The program is making finding cousins a bit easier for me as well.

Many programs are trying to help people who want to find more than their direct lines ancestors (i.e. Puzilla). These are great tools, but RootsMagic takes the cake in making things easy for me. Why? Because with a visually simple tool they provide hints within a program that I am already familiar with. That's why this girl is going to stick with what she knows.

Descendancy Research With RootsMagic
RootsMagic 7: Name List

First, I must tell you that the folks in my computer based tree are descendants from common ancestors. Few are from external lines as I cull the tree every so often to focus on the 'closest kin'. I leave my extended lines on FamilySearch.org to for safe keeping.

This narrow set of persons on my computer enables me to skip the common 'first step' when doing descendancy research. The first step is often to select an ancestor from 5 or 6 generations back or born in the late 1700s or early 1800s. Then, you use different tools to "look down" the tree. With RootsMagic full of relatives, I can select anyone from the name list and see whether their tree looks like a spring or a bush.

With that said introduction out of the way, let's focus on how I use RootsMagic to find cousins.

Picking where to start is easy for me because I'm an orderly kind of person. I start at the beginning of the alphabet. I skip the persons with no last names, as it's easier to start with a known last name. Additionally, I ignore over the folks that I have color coded in RootsMagic as living. Once I see a name on my list that meets these criteria, I look for individuals who have little or no sources or facts. Often, these folks are the very cousins who need to have spouses, children, or parents discovered. Sometimes these individuals are deadends or bricks walls, but most often (in my case), they are cousins who needs their stories discovered.

When I find one, such as Margaret Bush, I will highlight that name and look at the RootsMagic family page.  In this image, Margaret is listed as a child of Marion and Nellie Bush. I can navigate to her family group where she is a wife by clicking the red arrow next to her name.


Family Page in RootsMagic
Family Page for Margaret Bush in RootsMagic

Perhaps you noticed what makes me super excited! The first thing is an aesthetic joy. RootsMagic 7 has 'sticky' fields. In otherwords, when you use the bottom scroll bar to view the childrens' details, the child's name will always appear. That seems new to me and I really like it!

The second new feature involves those super cool light bulbs! These light bulbs are helping me branch out and find those who have been forgotten.

In RootsMagic 7, I can connect with my MyHeritage and FamilySearch Family Tree accounts. The program will communicate with these online trees and look for hints and links automatically. That's right, I do not have to do much work. One program will search two resouces and bring the hints to me. This is so exciting!!!

Let's all remember that not every hint found automatically is accurate. We still have to investigate the potential sources and make conclusions. Yet, increasing efficiency is a very, very cool thing.  These light bulbs really made my initial research into distant lines remarkable simple.


WebHints in RootsMagic
Web Hints in RootsMagic
When I click on a yellow 'lighted' bulb, I see a WebHints screen. If RootsMagic finds hints in FamilySearch or MyHeritage, the options will appear in this screen. If I click on the number in the pending column, I will be taken to the hints for each website. In this case, there are currently no hints in MyHeritage.

Hint Screen on FamilySearch from RootsMagic
Hint Screen on FamilySearch from RootsMagic
FamliySearch will then display the hints the program has discovered as possible sources. These hints may support or expand research already attached to the FamilySearch tree. I see a census record for Margaret Bailey. In RootsMagic, I had added her spouse Claude, but I didn't include the child. Now, I can add the child to FamilySearch Family, supported by the research. 

Remember how I like to keep my desktop tree compact? I now have a few decisions to make. I could download Margaret and Claude's family information to my computer. Or I can leave the new relatives online and only download the new supporting evidence for Margaret. I opt for the second method. I'll leave the new discoveries stay online and increase the sources I have for Margaret. 

After investigating the hints and other research discoveries for Margaret, I can go to the next name on my RootsMagic list and repeat the process. This enables me to a) know where I stopped and b) know there is always someone I can be working on. As I go through this process, I wonder, will RootsMagic have one page where I can see all the lightbulbs? Does RootsMagic have this feature already and I haven't found it yet?

Happy Hunting!

27 May 2015

Heritage Scrapbooking: Play Up The Place

For many weeks, I have shared pages from my early childhood scrapbook. My personal heritage album contains many 1970 era photos. In discussing what 'heritage' means, I keep thinking it would mean albums with photos from the 1800s and early 1900s. Then I realized, some younger scrapbook creators would include their parents who would have photos from the 1960s and 1970s. Indeed, scrapbooking a child of the 70s is now heritage. Now don't you feel old?


Howdy From Texas: navy background - from Enjoy the Ride by Sexy and Hot Mama Scrapper, 
red star burst - Wonderboy by K. Lund; red string flower - Happy Go Lucky by Shabby Princess;
Star Scatter, red string bow, blue frame, and jewel stars - Pride of Country
by Relocated Dixie Girl  (who sadly is no longer online. What a shame!)


Now that I have aged you more than you wish, I want to share how one page in my scrapbook deviated a little bit from the overall color scheme I had chosen. The reason is I really wanted this layout to jump out. My family left the midwest in the late 70s and moved to The Lone Star state, my beloved Texas. As such, I wanted a page that didn't necessarily compliment the schematics of my photos, but the fact I'm now in my new home state.

Thankfully the van that moved my family of five (mom, dad, brother, self, and dog) over 1,100 miles during the summer was white! This reduced the possibility of any color clashes with the Red, White, and Blue color scheme that is representative of this southern state. I arranged the photos with the story first and then the photos across the bottom. They start as we drove out of the driveway in Ohio and the feature our new apartment in a Houston suburb. The large apartment photo has a caption from my first scrapbook attempt. I was unable to remove the glued on paper, so I let it be. Just another way of making previous mistakes work for me. (Never let the fear of making a mistake keep you from making a scrapbook. You can rework it later, if need be!)

I really love this simple layout that marks a major transition in my young life. Be sure to document the places where you lived. If the place you lived has a 'traditional' color scheme, play that up, even if it isn't exactly the same as your overall album. The variance in the color choices can emphasis your adventures.


21 May 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday: Know Your Focus

Devon Noel Lee teaching at local family history conference
Devon Noel Lee teaching at local conference photo by Jamie Black Smith
Before I share this Treasure Chest Thursday Tip, I hope you'll enjoy a peek in the behind the scenes happenings of A Patient Genealogist.

My Digitizing Grandma's Stuff class was at hit at the recent family history conference. The reward was strongly felt for the efforts I've expended inspiring others to photograph their family treasures through my blog, personal conversations, and teaching.

There was a young girl in my class who went home to tell her grandmother about the conference. She had attended with her grandfather and they both left so excited to photograph their family treasures that they bought a nicer camera and are anxious to begin. I loved hearing how her great-grandmother then told the young lady and the grandfather the story of the 'unwanted' cuckoo clock in the living room. You see! when we start photographing family treasures, others will open up stories we never knew! I'm so happy for them and wish them all the best in their projects.

Hearing stories like these plaster a smile on my face bigger than Dallas! That's why I challenge you, my readers, to photograph your treasures. Use what I have learned and shared on this blog. You can do this!

We can not imagine the stories and memories will discover or remember once we begin.


Know Your Focus

I recently discovered with my entry level dSLR, that it's important to pay attention where your focusing points are placed on your object. With point and shoot or compact cameras, you don't have focusing dots inside the view finder or on the LCD. (If you do, that's news to me). dSLR cameras have these flashing dots inside the view finder. You can change how they work, but the major point of this post is to make sure you're placing your active focusing point on the part of your object you most want in focus.


Where You Focus the Camera Matters
Focus dots on the back of the band
f/7.1, exp 1/4 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +1.7, Pattern Metering

The above photo shows that I was focusing on the inscription inside the band. I have shared before that the inscriptions are important, however, I really wanted the front of the band in focus. I needed to make sure I placed the active focusing dot on the front of the band.


Where You Focus the Camera Matters
Focus dots on the back of the band 
f/7.1, exp 1/4 sec, ISO 100, exp bias +1.7, Pattern Metering

This photo is much better. Now, if I were a professional photography, the reflected image in the gold pattern in the ring would bug me. However, I'm a family historian who wants to capture memories before they are gone. Someday, I may redo the photograph, but probably not. What I will do is know my focus from this point forward.




For more inspiration on capturing and preserving your family history, order my book 21st Century Family Historian.

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