31 August 2012

Photo Friday: Lightbox and Lighting Review


I wanted to make sure I provided a final recap of how an amateur photographer with a few tools can take some wonderful pictures of the heirlooms and memorabilia in their family history collection. These pictures can then be used in a variety of formats from a digital heritage scrapbook to a printed family history.

When you first use a light box, you might be disappointed with the results. You have a camera, that you don't know well, a tripod, and a light box. You should take some wonderful pictures

Watch
Cuff Links
Military Bracelet
Name Bracelet
Military Medal
Work Id

These photos aren't terrible, but they're not exactly what one would treasure. They are overall a bit dark. With a little research, the photos can be vastly improved. I've done some of the research for you. Here is what I did and what I learned.

I have created a seamless background using a piece of white cardboard inside a DIY lightbox. This looks so nice and was very easy to work with. I had my light box on the daybed in our guest room. I used a work light from my husband's construction projects. The other light was very indirect as I placed the box in a shaded part of the guest bedroom during the afternoon.

I used the macro setting on my camera. I was in the “P” setting on my camera as I've yet to learn about the Tv and the Av settings. This setting on the Cannon PowerShot allows me to adjust for the light source (day light, tungsten, fluorescent).  

After a little bit of research, I knew that I needed to use custom white balancing, frame my pictures better, and understand lighting more.

If you want an area to be true white, you'll want to take a picture of that white area using the custom white balance setting. Before each object was placed in the light tent, I figured out where it would be placed. Then I took a picture of that white area. Then I placed the object in the light box and did so by looking through the camera screen.

With my lightbox on a daybed, I wasn't able to compose the pictures the way I wanted. The low surface and the tripod did not seem to work together. I moved the light box onto my ironing board. With an adjustable tripod and an adjustable ironing board, I would be able to frame up my pictures better. Again, I'm an amateur. Perhaps a professional wouldn't have this problem, but this was a fabulous solution for me.

The lighting was just not what I had hoped. I'd seen beautiful pictures on the DIY websites and I just couldn't figure it out. Was it my equipment or my inexperience? I researched how to use light better with my light box. I rediscovered this website How To: DIY $10 Macro Photo Studio. After detailing how to construct a light box, Strobist gave me clues as to what could be the problem.

The blogger suggested that I could use the sun's light come from which ever direction I wanted by simply turning the box. I should turn the box until it had the appearance I desired.

I used the sun and one work light. With the light box on the ironing board near the window, I moved the objects around, or the light box itself, until I finally had the amount of light I desired. With the camera on a tripod using custom white balancign, I began to snap away. I saw an immediate improvement in the quality of my photos.


Watch
Cuff Links
Military Bracelet
Name Bracelet
Military Medal
Work Id


These pictures look vastly better. I know I still have much, much more to learn. But I now have items that I can preserve as a collection. I can use the photos for sharing with my relatives. I can create a family history album specific to my grandfather or my grandfather's family. The possibilities are now endless.

And should various relatives desire any of these objects in the future, I could give it to them and know I still have the pictures as a collection. Can you just image how much easier it might be to settle estates after a loved one passes away?

Can you imagine the doors a collection of your artifacts might open to other family members when you share these pictures with them? Can you imagine the stories they would share about the relative in question by seeing these photos? Can you imagine the other items they might dig out for you knowing that you will take a nice picture of the item so all may share the love of it? The possibilities are simply endless. 

As a a digital scrapbooker and an amateur genealogist, I want to improve my photo skills. Genealogy is not just about digging through census records and cemeteries. It is about telling and sharing the most complete story of our loved ones for our living and future relatives.

Here is another link that might be useful in improving your photography skills www.pbase.com/wlhuber/light_box_light_tent

28 August 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: What Am I Doing Wrong?

Photo by Devon Lee
Wilhelmina Mickle
Green Lawn Cemetery
Find A Grave Memorial #71646631

I really like this stone for Wilhelmina Mickle because it's old, aged, and written in German (right?). What I don't like about this photo is that some of the carvings are hard to read. Granted if you don't have any photos, this is better than nothing. But, I guess I want to take the best picture I possibly can.

So I'd love to have this picture be a case study of sorts. I'm asking the questions, what can I do to make this photo better and more readable?

27 August 2012

Amanuensis Monday: Jacob Fladt Naturalization Record

For the next few Amanuensis Monday entries, I'm going to include the transcriptions of naturalization records that I found while searching Franklin County, Ohio. Records. When I know the individual's biographical sketch, I'll include them. Many of these entries will be collateral lines, but I hope someone might find their relative amongst my research.

Jacob Fladt is not a relative of mine. He's the grandfather of Magdalena Emma Fladt (1887 - 1976). Emma married the son (Conrad Christan Grener) of my 2nd great-grand aunt Mary Elisabeth Geisler Grener. I don't know more about Jacob but I know that others are working on this line.

Now, before you think I go off on major tangents all the time, let me say this. The last name Fladt is memorable to me for some reason. Whenever I'm searching records, I keep coming across this name. I don't know why. Since it keeps jumping out to me, though it's not really 'my family', I keep the make note of the record and I'll post the information here. Hopefully a Fladt descendant will find this information useful and the effort won't be wasted.

Declaration of Intention.
Court of Common Pleas, Franklin County, Ohio.

The State of Ohio, Franklin County, SS

Be it remembered that on the 10th day of February of the year eighteen hundred and fifty-five, PERSONALLY APPEARED before me ALBERT B BUTTLES, Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, within and for said County and State, Jacob Fladt an Alien, a native of Baden who being duly sworn according to law, on his oath doth declare and say that it is bona fide his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign Prince, Potentate, State, or Sovereignty, whatever and more particularly all allegiance and fidelity to the Grand Duke of Baden whose subject he is.

Attest: A B Buttles, Clerk
by Milton M Powers


24 August 2012

Photo Friday: Photographing Artifacts 5 (Additional Memorabilia)


This is a continuation of the series featuring what I've learned about photographing family history memorabilia. To read more about the collection, visit the initial post title here or Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3

Having learned so much through the first three objects, I was able to apply my knowledge more easily to the remainder of my collection of my grandfather's objects . For this article, I thought I'd simple include the remaining objects from the first session and the final session. A sort of before and after. Series.

Here are the important things to remember about the two photo shoot setups.

First Photo Shoot Set Up


My light box was stationed on a daybed in a shadowy part of the room on a Sunday afternoon. The lighting was indirectly from widow and directly from a work light filtered through the light box side. I didn't use the flash with any of these pictures. I set my compact system camera to the P mode and took all pictures on the Macro setting. I used the custom white balance setting and my exposure bias was set at 1.0.


Second Photo Shoot Set Up


My light box was stationed on a desk directly utilizing the natural light from the window. I used one work light filtered through my light box on the opposite side. I didn't use the flash with any of these pictures. I set my compact system camera to the P mode and took all pictures on the Macro setting. I used the custom white balance setting and my exposure bias was set at 1.0. I have the camera mounted on a full-length tripod.


From Photo Shoot 1


Exposure: 1/100
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 9.1 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering; Center Weight Average


Too dark
From Photo Shoot 2


Exposure: 1/60
Aperture: f/3.2
Focal Length: 6 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering Spot

Needs some cropping but much better

The trouble with taking a picture of a picture is the glare that happens when light falls on the object. I simple adjusted the light box until the light from the window and the work light did not reflect of the picture. Then I snapped a picture. This picture is ready for including on a family history page about my grandfather's employment as a milk man.



From Photo Shoot 1


Exposure: 1/100
Aperture: f/3.5
Focal Length: 12.8 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering; Center Weight Average


Too dark
From Photo Shoot 2


Exposure: 1/100
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 6.7 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering Spot


This one works.

I would like to have been close to this very small object, but I was unable to do so and keep the image in focus. I would really like to know what it is before I include it on a digital scrapbook page about my ancestor.


From Photo Shoot 1


Exposure: 1/100
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 11.5 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering; Center Weight Average


Too dark
From Photo Shoot 2


Exposure: 1/100
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 12.8 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering Spot


Much brighter.

Perhaps a little work with editing software can tweak the second photo, but I'd gladly put this photo into a heritage album about the best of time and worst of times for my grandfather as he probably wore these cuff links when he dressed up.


From Photo Shoot 1


Exposure: 1/100
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 7.3 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering; Center Weight Average


Too dark
From Photo Shoot 2


Exposure: 1/125
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 6 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering Spot


Sometimes we to learn more...

I'm still struggling to improve the photos of the pocket knife. I've determined that it would be better if I didn't lay this item flat. Additionally, I need to reduce my reflection, or that of my camera, in the object. When I am able to do these two things, I'm sure that I'll be more successful with the photos.


From Photo Shoot 1


Exposure: 1/100
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 10.3 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering; Center Weight Average


The detail in this picture isn't too bad
From Photo Shoot 2


Exposure: 1/60
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 6.7 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering Spot


Much brighter and full of detail

This piece was improved by using better lighting and spot metering.

From Photo Shoot 1


Exposure: 1/80
Aperture: f/3.5
Focal Length: 10.3 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering; Center Weight Average

Dull and flat, I do like the angle. Watch needs to have the 12 on the left side of the picture
From Photo Shoot 2


Exposure: 1/60
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 6.7 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering Spot

Amazing

The watch was again challenging because of it's reflective nature. You can see the colors I was wearing in the second photo. It isn't too distracting, but I'd probably use a black foam or a white cover over myself next time to reduce reflections in the piece.

I also noticed something about the first photo. With the 12 on the right, the picture looked weird. When I flipped the watch over so the 12 was on the left, it improved drastically. I did a web search and discovered if a watch is on it's side it most often will be on with the 12 position on the left. The other most common orientation is to have the watch stand up. I found several DIY solutions to make this orientation possible. However, I'm happy with the result and will move on.

After thoughts

As you can see, using spot metering, Custom White Balance, and placing my light box near a sunlight window and using one additional light greatly improved the pictures. These photos would enhance a family heritage scrapbook about my grandpa who served in the military, worked for Borden's milk company, and was a great father.

21 August 2012

Journey to the Past: Cemetery Final Tally

WHEW!

I love this photo of me taking grave stone photos.
It shows my family and friends what I did while I was away!



Thank you to everyone who took the time read my Journey to the Past series. Now that that is finished, I have to slow down in the posts a bit as I start sorting through all the materials I brought back from Ohio. I'll continue posting Tombstone Tuesdays about the grave stones that I found interesting. I'll also continue to Photo Friday series that focuses on taking photos of the artifacts in our family and personal history collection. The rest of my blogging efforts will share the stories I've learned and the connections I've made with the research I've acquired.

BUT, I wanted to share the final tally from all those photos I took in the cemeteries I visited in May. Here it goes:

6 Volunteer Photos
600 Photos Added
231 Memorials Added
And I mange an additional 31 that are family

I took in the range of 50-100 photos that I had to throw out because they were unusable or photos were already posted online. Now, some people may say that was wasted effort to take photos 'down the line' rather than seek out those photo request names. But, I feel differently.

Taking the additional photos is making me a better photographer. Spending the time looking up the names and specific plot numbers would make me a better researcher. My goal was to get as many photos online as possible with the least amount of hassle as possible. Many cemeteries are difficult to work with, while others are true gems. So, I don't mind that I had to trash some photos because they were duplicated efforts.

The photos that irritated me were ones that I had to delete because they were too blurry. That's my fault and I hope to be more diligent in checking the quality of the image before moving on.

So, now that the service part of my trip is complete, it's time to focus on the Geiszler and Brown family lines. (But I'll still take volunteer photos near where I live in Iowa).

Tombstone Tuesday: Beware of the Trees

Photo by Devon Lee
Louise Gramlich
Green Lawn Cemetery
Find A Grave Memorial #75114324

When you don't have the best lighting conditions in the world, you can still get a nice picture. The trick is to pay attention to what shadows are casting across your stone. If you use a white foam board, you can hold this in any place to block the sun and create an even shadow across your stone. Set your camera to compensate for the shadow lighting and snap a photo.

Tombstone Tuesday: Take to to write down the inscription

Photo by Devon Lee
Ellen S Hemler
Green Lawn Cemetery
Find A Grave Memorial # 70003900

I think this stone is rather fascinating for several reasons. First, I wonder what the top graphic is above Ellen's name. Is it a letter T or a letter I? Is is something completely different. Why would this be there?

I love that there is a death date given and the age at time of death is given in years and days. If you need a calculator to determine the birth date from the death date, try this Birth Date Calculator.

However, what I really like about this stone is the painful lesson it taught me. Slow down enough to write down the inscriptions that are on the tombstones. You won't always be able to read the inscription on your photograph when you get back to your computer. Point taken and hopefully lesson learned.

20 August 2012

Motivation Monday: What's My Number?

I was inspired by the post What's Your Number? Don't Be Too Shocked if It's Below 30%!

In the post Lorine McGinnis Schulze at Olive Tree Genealogy talks about how many ancestors we have if we trace them directly backwards from ourselves. She wanted to see just how many ancestors she'd found and what percentage of the total work she'd completed. I thought her post was intriguing so I tallied up my numbers. Here's what I came up with.

 
Generation Number of
Possible Ancestors
Number of My Ancestors Found
7th great 512 0
6th great 256 15
5th great 128 24
4th great 64 42
3rd great 32 30
2nd great 16 16
1st great 8 8
Grandparents 4 4
Parents 2 2

1022 141


The percentage is 13.8%. It is indeed below 30%. Now, the aggregate total doesn't really tell me which lines of my family are stuck, just that past the 3rd great-grand parents I come up very short. So, I wanted to break the total down by the lines of my family: Brown and Geiszler. Here's how things shape up:

Generation Number of Possible Ancestors Browns Found Geiszlers Found Total
7th great 512

0
6th great 256 4 11 15
5th great 128 10 14 24
4th great 64 14 28 42
3rd great 32 14 16 30
2nd great 16 8 8 16
1st great 8 4 4 8
Grandparents 4 2 2 4
Parents 2 1 1 2

1022 57 84 141

From this I can see that I have found a lot of relatives on the Geiszler line but not so many on the Brown line. Could it be that on the Brown line I have names like Brown, Smith, Young, and Long? It makes it very hard to figure out which family is yours amongst the multitude of them. Comparatively the Geiszler line has Geiszler, Zumstein, Mack, and Hoppe. This makes it a lot easier on one hand but more difficult on others.

The other contributing factor to the Geiszler success is the more common name of Comfort and Marvin have very successful genealogist on that line tracing the lines into the 6th generation. I believe these lines have gone into the 7th generation but the trees get tangled up so much that I don't know who is who. So, until I'm prepared to check out those lines, I've just left them off my chart.

I have quite a few suspected ancestors that I haven't found enough evidence (people don't cite their sources so I'm hesitant to accept potential family members with out more proof) to incorporate them into these numbers. In any case, I think, the few additional name might bring the percentage up to 15%, if I'm lucky.

So... I liked this numbers activity not because it points out how much I haven't accomplished. It actually points out where I should be focusing my efforts. I'll admit I get lost in the siblings, aunts, and cousins. I'm trying to learn who my direct ancestors are and how they affected their posterity. So, I do go laterally and collaterally often. But, I thought this was a useful reminder to not neglect the direct ancestors of mine.

So thanks Lorine for the post.

17 August 2012

Photo Friday: Photographing Artifacts 4 (Military Medal)


This is a continuation of the series featuring what I've learned about photographing family history memorabilia. To read more about the collection, visit the initial post title here or Part 1 or Part 2.


First Photo Shoot Set Up


My light box was stationed on a daybed in a shadowy part of the room on a Sunday afternoon. The lighting was indirectly from widow and directly from a work light filtered through the light box side. I didn't use the flash with any of these pictures. I set my compact system camera to the P mode and took all pictures on the Macro setting. I used the custom white balance setting and my exposure bias was set at 1.0.

Exposure: 1/100
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 9.1 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering; Center Weight Average

Good start, way too dark
Exposure: 1/125
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 9.1 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering; Center Weight Average

Still too dark

After a series of shots of all my artifacts, I decided to research how to improve the use of the light box. I did another session with just the military bracelet and the name bracelet of previous posts. I determined that a dark room with two lights and the light box on a bed wasn't working for my artificers. Instead of taking more photos of all the objects. I decided more research was in order.


Second Photo Shoot Set Up


My light box was stationed on a desk directly utilizing the natural light from the window. I used one work light filtered through my light box on the opposite side. I didn't use the flash with any of these pictures. I set my compact system camera to the P mode and took all pictures on the Macro setting. I used the custom white balance setting and my exposure bias was set at 1.0. I have the camera mounted on a full-length tripod


Exposure: 1/160
Aperture: f/3.2
Focal Length: 6.7 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering; Spot

I was blown away by this photo.
Exposure: 1/60
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 6.7 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Metering; Spot

Although this one isn't as strong as the first, I still think this one is acceptable.


After thoughts


As you can see, using spot metering, Custom White Balance, and placing my light box near a sunlight window and using one additional light greatly improved the pictures. These photos would enhance a family heritage album about my military veteran grandpa.



First Photo

Professional quality photo by an amateur.

There are more artifacts to come in the come weeks. I hope you're enjoying learning about taking photos of your heirlooms. I can't wait to see what some of you come up with.

16 August 2012

Journey to the Past: Wrapping Up and Heading Home


Saturday afternoon/evening I finished scanning all remaining documents and photos. I then took out my portable studio and took photos of small objects belonging to my Grannie. I even took a picture of a coin collection that belongs to my aunt Shelley. Money stories seem to run through my family. I'll have to put this all in a story format at some point. It was a fun thing to see in Shelley's home.

I finally was able to turn off the computer and scanner around 5 pm. I had accomplished more than I ever thought possible. I had more leads and more mysteries. I had photos that I've never seen and stories I didn't know. I had bonded with my aunt Shelley, connected with Geiszler cousins, and met some amazing strangers. I found help nearly every where I went. I also found heartache and disappointment. I found frustrating moments. The research trip was more of a roller-coaster than I had expected.

My Journey to the Past was over. I think I seek after genealogy because as a child, my extended family was so far from us. In those days, we didn't travel from Texas to Ohio often. Long distance phone calls were expensive. My Grannie and Shelley always made an effort make our far distant family feel loved and included. My Geiszler family was not involved with us at all. I only saw my Geiszler Grandparents twice that I remember after we moved to Texas. The other Geiszlers were names on a family tree and no more.

In my own family, my father has died, my mother is disabled and unable to travel much, and my brother and his wife are busy with their family. I live in Iowa and though technology is great, the connection of my children to their Geiszler cousins is very minute.

So I guess I do family research, not just because my Latter-Day Saint faith encourages me too, but because I hope to find connections to people who are related to me. I yearn for the family stories and inside jokes that only families have. I wish I was apart of them (in a sense). There are bonds my parent's families have that my family doesn't have. So, I'd hoped to connect. But can we ever replace what doesn't exist in the past? Not really. But in some strange way, I feel closer. There are stories of tragedy and triumph. There are things I've learned from my ancestors to avoid... like alcohol and drugs. There are things I've learned to do... put family first and simply be happy with the lot you have in life. All of these lessons I plan to take home with me and put into practice in my husband and children's life. I'll never have the closeness that I long for with the family I was born into. But my children can have those connects in the family I've helped create.

For everyone, there reasons for genealogy are vastly different. However, the lessons one can learn can greatly impact our personal lives right now. As sappy as it sounds, I know understand all the emotions that are shown on Who Do You Think You Are? and the Genealogy Project. I had no idea that the journey would mean more to me than simply finding documents and headstones. I hope that I can use these lessons to be the kind of person my Heavenly Father knows I can be.

This is the FINAL installment in a lengthy multi-series post about the fantastic research trip I took to Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. If you're just joining the this series, you'll be able to see every post under the label Research Trip.

15 August 2012

Journey to the Past: Touring Columbus, Ohio


On Saturday, my dear aunt drove me to the various houses she knew about in Columbus, Ohio. We drove past the house on Gates Street. I fondly remember this house from the times I visited my Grannie. The house isn't as pink as I remember it being on the outside; however, the home is in good shape. The neighborhood around it, not so much. We drove by what should have been Long's Pharmacy, it is no longer. We drove past what was once Sherman Lewis Brown's auto shop at 1888 Parson's Avenue. It is no longer. We drove past the house on Reeb Avenue. The area of Reeb, is in terrible condition. So sad. When my family lived there in the 1920s, I believe it was a small suburb of Columbus but that people cared about these houses. Since that time, the area has gone into great decline and the houses look awful. My aunt looked up Medill Street, but it no longer exists. 

We drove past the house on Stewart Avenue in German Village. What a nice surprise. The entire neighborhood is so well kept. What I didn't realize was just how close my Grandmother lived to Schiller Park growing up. Now the stories made sense.

My aunt concluded that a man walking to his car lived in the Stewart house and asked him about it. He said he did. My aunt said it was the home of her mother and she was so happy to see it so well cared for. The man was deeply touched and shared that they'd lived there since 1983 and loved the house. Aww... such a touching story.

About this time, I wasn't feeling good and mentioned this to my aunt. She told me I had the motion sickness stomach of my Grannie. Seriously? It's cool to know that we have that connection, but there are so many other things I'd prefer to have in common with someone. Not my car sickness.

In any case, we finished the driving tour by going to Ohio State University. I had hoped to go past the hospital where my mother used to work, but the hospital complex looks like a small city. We opted to go to the Ohio State University stadium. Ohio State football is a huge thing to my father. Apparently, living in Texas he couldn't get the games. So, he'd have my aunt record the games and send copies to him. How funny. Plus, my Great-Grandfather R. Victor Zumstein was a professor at Ohio. He was a professor at Michigan before going to Ohio. The story goes that he had a hard time knowing which side of the football stadium to sit on during the Michigan-Ohio State games. So he concluded that he'd sit on the Michigan side until he taught at Ohio as long as he had at Michigan. He hadn't been at Michigan long, so that was concluded quickly and he was a fan of the school he taught at. It seemed fitting to stand there as my journey had finally come full circle.

This is another installment in a lengthy multi-series post about the fantastic research trip I took to Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. If you're just joining the this series, you'll be able to see every post under the label Research Trip.

14 August 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Samuel Ross 1817 - 1904

Photo by Devon Lee
Samuel Ross
Green Lawn Cemetery
Find A Grave Memorial #46968571
Do you ever come across a stone and wonder, is this the missing person I've been looking for? Well, I was taking pictures in Green Lawn Cemetery and I came across Samuel Ross (1817-1904) and I had this thought.

I have a Samuel J Ross who married Anna Margaretha Hoppe in 1889 (Franklin County, Ohio). I do not know the birth date or place for Samuel. Anna (also known as Annie) was born in Columbus 22 Jan 1869  and died 11 Jul 1896.

But that's all I know. So when I passed this stone, in the same cemetery where Anna was buried, I just wondered, "Could this be him?"

Probably not. Samuel Ross is a fairly common name. Without any further information to go off about my Samuel Ross, this stone is just an interesting stone with a similar name.

Journey to the Past: More With Cousin Betty and Samuel Brown


When Betty said she had a few things for me, she wasn't kidding. She had done some digging and had found funeral cards, obituaries, a family history printing, photos, wedding certificates, and more. Another gold mine! Would I get it all scanned before I had to leave? Betty was so excited to share what she had. She had more stories to share. I learned about more spotted sheep in the family. Very tragic stuff. 


A sampling of the information Cousin Betty found for me about her family.

The funniest thing was the story of her mother. Arlene had pancreatic cancer. Generally this disease is uncommon in women and a result of heavy drinking and smoking. Betty said her mother never smoked or drank. When Arlene had insisted that she had done neither, the doctor had wouldn't believe her. Arlene was so fed up that the doctor didn't believe her that she had some fun. Apparently Arlene wasn't the happiest sort of soul, so the comical element was greatly heightened. Arlene dressed in a funny dress, borrowed a bottle of alcohol and a cigarette and had her daughter Betty snap a host of pictures. Arlene really got into the fun and began doing all sorts of funny poses and faces. 

My aunt Shelley laughed until she nearly split her gut. Arlene had never shared this side of her personality to Shelley's family and it was quite the treat. I promised my cousin that the photographs would stay in the family out of respect. However, the story of a person fed up with doctors insisting that she did something she hadn't rings true to me. I don't drink or smoke and I'd feel the same way. “Oh, really doctor? You don't believe me? Well, I'll show you.” That's the attitude Arlene had and the one I can fully understand. So funny.

Aside from discussing Betty's family, I also shared that I believe that Samuel Leroy Brown's son Bradley Lewis Brown had died. I had done some digging and had hoped to find Bradley and his sister. If I found them, I'd try to find out about their family to see if the mystery could be cleared up. Betty and Shelley were greatly saddened to learn of his passing. They insisted I need to seek out his sister. I shall, in due time.

In Bradley's obituary, all the facts I had about him lined up except a few. First, it's supposed that Bradley was born in Louisiana and not Ohio or Missouri. Additionally, his mother is listed as Anne Tompkins Brown (the second wife of Samuel). So, the picture we have could very well be Anne and not Mary Jane (or Marietta). In reviewing the birth dates of Bradley and his sister, it would fit better with a scenario that Samuel married Annie around 1940 and then had two children before he died in 1948. The mystery continues! So, what happened to Marietta Hicks Brown and what is the story of Anne Tompkins. Could Samuel have been a bit of a ladies man during his work as a traveling salesman? Is that story true? Hmmmm..... it seems I really must find the cousin now.

This is another installment in a lengthy multi-series post about the fantastic research trip I took to Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. If you're just joining the this series, you'll be able to see every post under the label Research Trip.

13 August 2012

Journey to the Past: Scanning, Scanning, Scanning


I spent all of Friday afternoon scanning photos and documents that I was given by my cousins. My Cousin Betty had sent me an email on Wednesday and was upset that I hadn't made mention of it yet. It's not that I hadn't seen it. It was filled with so much information, I wasn't ready to process it yet. And, I wanted to make sure I got the photo albums and documents back to persons before I left town.

So I'm THRILLED that my cousin Betty has been bitten by the fact finding bug. On Saturday morning I've been told that she has A TON of things for me to see. Things like funeral programs and such. How exciting. Just when I think I won't get anything else, more comes my way.

Additionally, I started digging and digging through my grandmother's bedroom. I found a lot of things worth recording. Perhaps it was wrong of me. Perhaps it was right on. In any case, I found my grandmother's high school diploma. It was too large for the scanner, so I placed it in my photography pile.

As I was scanning pictures, I needed a way to tie the stories about the pictures to the pictures themselves. Now, I'm sure there is a better way, but I had to think of something on the fly. So, after I saved the photo from my scanning program, I opened the photo in Paint (a program that Microsoft includes with their Operating System). I added additional space to the photo (if I didn't scan additional blank space originally). I used the Insert Text tool and added the information about the photo I wanted to keep with the photo. When I crop and edit the photos, I'll crop this out but save the original scan as well. This way the photo and information stays together for the time being.

My computer and scanner were so overworked with the scanning, I was afraid they'd kick the bucket before I was finished. However, both are work horses and were up to the challenge. Whew!

This is another installment in a lengthy multi-series post about the fantastic research trip I took to Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. If you're just joining the this series, you'll be able to see every post under the label Research Trip.

12 August 2012

Journey to the Past: Back to Columbus Metropolitan Library


After a large tray of fruit for breakfast, I headed back downtown to finish up my research at the library. Though I could have looked up Columbus Dispatch Obituaries, the obit request process is so simple. I can have my aunt order up to four obituaries per month and they're sent to her email box. In about 3 months I could have the obituaries I know I need for the time being. So, I decided to skip going to the obituaries.

I went back to the Genealogy section on the third floor. My goal? Smaller plat maps. I asked the staff working the help desk and he knew exactly where to direct me. Plus, he walked me over there personally. THANK YOU for kindness. It's every where I tell ya. All this kindness on my journey to the past has been overwhelming. 

Franklin County Plat Book taken from the official tax books of
Franklin County ; drawn by Darrell Dudley.


Okay, plat maps. I had my spreadsheet with the names and locations of individuals I should be able to find on the plat maps. I had a lot of success with the Franklin County Plat Book drawn by Darrell Dudley. There were a few references that I couldn't find. I found the writing on the 1842 and some 1856 maps blurred at times. However, the 1883 maps were wonderful. 

1856 Prairie Township Plat Map
(Franklin County Plat Book taken from the official tax books of
Franklin County ; drawn by Darrell Dudley.)

I snapped photos of the large maps of the area and then zoomed into the actual plat locations. Perfect. Perspective is always helpful. The only thing I could have done differently is my 'trick' from the photos with my Geiszler cousins. Writing the names of the persons I was looking at and taking a picture. Or simply, pointing at the names I was examining in one photo and then taking a second photo without the pointer. The written note would have been easier as I'm only one person with one pair of hands and both need to be on the camera. Having a pointer that stayed where it laid wasn't always practical. In any case, I had plat maps for more than just one family and this told me SO MUCH.

Highlight of Conrad Greener's land on the 1856
Prairie Township Plat Map

I also thought to photograph the land where people settled before and perhaps after they appeared on the map. Perhaps this would also lead me to records of ownership transfer. I wish there were more frequent maps, like a city directory or even the census, rather that the big gaps between 1842, 1856, and 1883. Nevertheless, I was happy with what I found.

If I had more time, I would have loved to look at the Palatine to America collection in the CML. But, I needed to wrap up my research. Although I had spent every night scanning photos and documents, I had a mound of scanning to do. It was time to stop getting additional research and process what I already had. Besides, lunch in historic German Village was awaiting at a place called Schmidt's Sausage Haus. I'd never eaten German food before, something about being a picky eater. 

So, I packed things up and had a great lunch date with my sweet aunt. The German food was so good I just might eat it again.

This is another installment in a lengthy multi-series post about the fantastic research trip I took to Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. If you're just joining the this series, you'll be able to see every post under the label Research Trip.

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