19 September 2014

21st Century Family Historian... now available in print or eBook

Do you think genealogy is boring? Is it something only done by old people in dusty libraries? If you answered "Yes" then this book is for you. The technology of the 21st Century has changed how Family History can be done.

Too many people are stuck in an 20th Century mindset where genealogy is filling out pedigree charts and family group sheets. This book contains no pedigree charts to fill out. Nor is there a single family group sheet to add information to. Learn how you can take the focus away from boring paperwork and do the things you like whether it is taking photographs, interviewing, or writing the stories of your ancestors.

On September 1st, my newest book 21st Century Family Historian became available on Amazon.com in eBook form. This book just might change the way you do family history.

21st Century Family Historian
To order a printed version of
21st Century Family Historian click here.

Today, I'm pleased to announce that the print version of the book is also available! You can purchase the book through Amazon.com or CreateSpace.com.

You can choose the format that suits you best. Here's the link once again for the eBook.

To order the Kindle version of
21st Century Family Historian click here.

After you've read the book, feel free to purchase more copies for those you love who either love family history or hate it. This book is meant to inspire both camps.

And if you're looking for some light-hearted reading, check out my husband's book: How to Fail English with Style, available for the Kindle app only.

 How to Fail English with Style by Andrew Lee


18 September 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday: Two More School Medals

School should be in full swing around the United States, regardless of whether your method is public, private, charter, or home schooled. Since the last post School Medals, I found a few more school medals belonging to my husband.

School Memories
Reflections Medal
f/4, exp 1/2, bias +0.7, ISO 80
Center Weighted Average Metering
Preserving School Memories
Remember to photograph the back

These photos were again draped over a white close and photographed using natural light from the window on the left side of the object. Instead of photographing the neck ribbon, I filled the frame with the medal's emblem. I could have done more to blur out the white background (or iron it), but a little cropping and surrounding the photograph with a great story will keep the focus off the wrinkles and on what matters most. If you're an armature photographer, cut yourself some slack when it comes to memory preservation. It's more important to capture the memory than to stress about the lack of perfection of an image.

Preserving Back to School Memories
Geography Medal
f/5, exp 1/3, bias +0.7, ISO 100
Center Weighted Average Metering

Preserving Back to School Memories
The inscription was hard to read even to the naked eye.

For this set up, I used a material that I had ironed more, but creases still worked their way into the camera. Ah well, that wasn't the most important thing. I photographed this piece at night, so I used a desk lamp for my light source. I used a do-it-yourself light box and aimed the light through the tissue paper filter.

Photographing memorabilia and artifacts is an important part of family history. To learn more about this topic and others, buy my new book 21st Century Family Historian.

16 September 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: No Stone for Cora

What happens when a woman who has been married multiple survives her last husband? That's the question I was hoping to have answered when I requested Cora Peak's stone through FindAGrave.com.

William Talbot Peak gravestone
William Talbot Peak gravestone
Photo by Devon Lee
Cora (Rogers) Peak was the second wife of William T. Peak, She was previously married to a Benjamin Feather, of New York, and they had two children Austin Morris Feather and Bertha M Feather. Cora remarried in 1922 a man named Isaac Heindel in Logan County, Ohio but that marriage ended in divorce with no children. Cora remarried again, this time to William in 1924. So not only was she a second wife to William, she was on her third marriage. She wasn't mentioned by descendants of William's first wife, and that's no wonder.

When I visited Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio, I found a stone for him and his first wife. But I didn't think to check for Cora's stone. Also, I've had mixed experiences with the office stay and their willingness to help. I decided to utilized the power of the crowd and sought out help from a gravestone volunteer.

The volunteer did not find a stone for Cora or the addition of her name to the large vertical monument to William. Seems like her name could have easily been added. However, Cora was the second wife and her kin were in Texas or New York. So, it's quite likely that this little detail was overlooked. Or could it have been banned? I guess I'll never know. What I do know, is that Cora has no stone.

Gravestone research and photography is fun. Collaboration makes it easy to access information that is far from you (think from Iowa to Ohio in this case). All of these topics are covered in my book 21st Century Family Historian available at Amazon.com.

14 September 2014

Sunday's Obituary: Helen Wood

Earlier this week, I shared a post of why you don't want to wait until it's too late to start your family history. I mentioned the passing of Helen Wood who provided me with photos, documents, and a GEDCOM database to enrich my Zumstein family history. I was shocked to hear of her passing shortly after making contact with her. With her husband's permission, I'm sharing her obituary. I'm truly thankful that I was able to connect with Helen before it was too late.

Mary Helen Wood passed away peacefully on June 1, 2014, after a three-year battle with lung cancer. She is survived by her loving family: husband John, son and daughter Glen and Janet, her brother Alan and his wife Deborah, and her grandchildren David and Gillian.

Mary Helen was born in Welland and brought up in Arvida. She lived and worked in England for several years before returning to Canada, where she worked for many years for Greening Donald in Hamilton. She later became an artisan working in stained glass,
and was also a realtor. In retirement she was an avid gardener, whose lovely flower gardens were often commented on and gave pleasure to many people. She was an amateur genealogist who contributed much to the Niagara branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.

Cremation has taken place. An informal gathering of family and friends to remember her will be held at her home on Sunday, June 8, from 1-4pm. If desired, contributions to the Juravinski Cancer Centre would be appreciated by the family.
Thank you Helen for your contribution to the Genealogical Society and to my family's research.

09 September 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Lillian Ranck

I love when FindAGrave.com volunteers will take a family plot photo, even if no stone was placed for a relative. Such is the case for Lillian Ranck.

Spencer and Maria Ranck tombstones
Find A Grave Memorial# 46154778
photo by anonymous volunteer

Little Lillian died just shy of two months after her birth in 1905. As such, it's not likely that she had a tombstone. The volunteer, photographed the plot where her parents Spencer Columbus Ranck and Marie Schimpf  were buried. Rest in peace little Lillian.

If you'd like some tips on how you can be a volunteer gravestone photography, check out Chapter 20 in my new book 21st Century Family Historian.

08 September 2014

Motivation Monday: Before It Is Too Late

If you think you have time to wait to do family history when you're older, think again. 

My fraternal grandmother is Helen (Zumstein) Geiszler. I owe a lot of research resources for the Zumstein lines to Helen's sister Dorothy. Dorothy (Zumstein) Merritt had started doing genealogy some 30-40 years ago. When my mother became interested in genealogy, she met Aunt Dorothy on my father's side. They began exchanging letters and family trees. Dorothy even wrote the treasured story of the Zumsteins who immigrated to Canada from Germany, and the reasons why. Her work helped me connect with Phebe Zumstein and her reactions to her new home in Canada.

Paul and Phebe Zumstein of Ontario Canada
The Zumstein migration story written in Dorothy Merritt's own hand.

Thanks to Dorothy's contributions I have counted myself lucky with the Zumstein line. For the most part, I just find records to back up the work Dorothy did. However, I would not have had this information had my mother not started asking questions while she had two young children underfoot. Had she waited until the 'time was right', Aunt Dorothy would have been deceased.

Last year, I was poking around doing some research on Ancestry.com on the Zumstein line. I kept running into work submitted by Helen Wood. Thanks to Ancestry.com's internal email system, I contacted Helen and asked her what information she had to share about the Zumstein line. It turns out, she just loved genealogy. She wasn't a relative at all but had worked on the line for her Zumstein descendant friend. She said she had photos and documents to share. I was super happy. Even though we weren't cousins, she had a wealth for resources for me.

Henrich and Catherine Zumstein
Copy of Zumstein Family Bible, provided by Helen Wood

There was a Zumstein family Bible and a Zumstein binder full of documents and photos. Helen had placed all of this information online in a private drive for me to access. I'm so glad I didn't wait to download that information. Helen passed away a few short months later.

The stories of our ancestors will be locked away forever if we do not get a jump on this work. Whether you do it yourself or help the genealogy fanatic, do something to capture and preserve the stories of your family.

If you need some help knowing what to do, order the book 21st Century Family Historian for yourself or for those who need a little inspiration.

07 September 2014

Feedback from 21st Century Family Historian

21st Century Family Historian by Devon Lee
21st Century Family Historian has been available for a week and the reception has been wonderful. I've enjoyed receiving the wonderful feedback from readers. Here are just a few:

"I must say, it does make family history seem more do-able and interesting."- Angela, a professed non-doer of family history. "Also, I just labeled some photos and thought of you."

" I found the chapter on storytelling (Chapter 25) to be very moving. It reminded me that I have a copy of my grandmother's journal that she kept during a particular trip. In the late 50s, my grandparents loaded their 4 kids and my grandpa's mother into a trailer and moved their family and all their worldly possessions from Wisconsin to Alaska. This was before Alaska was a state. They were some of the settlers during the period when Alaska was applying for statehood. The road through northern Canada was a dirt road at times. Sometimes there were high hills that their car couldn't pull the trailer up, so they would have to stop and wait for hours for a big truck to come and push them up. There were few gas stations, no hotels, few restaurants or grocery stores. It took them weeks to make it to Alaska, where they settled in Anchorage and my grandfather worked for the FAA. My grandma kept a journal of this adventure. Their story as settlers is important not only to our family, but as part of the history of the statehood of Alaska. It's only a few pages long, but with your research tips I could probably expand it." - Kara

"I love the opening chapters which say to stay with the story between the numbers. Love the idea that maybe Family History begins with stuff! The stuff as a clue is an excellent." - Linda

Thank you to all who have purchased this book. If you haven't purchased your own copy to learn how to discover, organize, record, and share your family history, visit Amazon.com and order your copy of  21st Century Family Historian. If you want to leave feedback about this book, you can leave it here, on Amazon.com, or use the email included in the book specifically for my readers.


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