Author Archives: Lauren Mahieu

Grandma and Cedric Adams – believe it or not!

Downtown, a book about Minneapolis, and Grammer's autograph book, provide clues to the mystery

Downtown, a book about Minneapolis, and Grammer’s autograph book, provide clues to the mystery of my grandmother’s relationship with Cedric Adams, the Twin Cities radio announcer.

It all started with a tale told by my late Cousin Pat, a book about the history of Minneapolis, and a peculiar warning in Grammer’s autograph book.

“Grammer,” as my grandmother was called, was the epitome of what a grandmother should be – doting, kind, and indulgent.  Okay, my mom probably didn’t appreciate the fact she spoiled me with candy and cookies, and showed me my Christmas gifts early, but I adored my grandmother.  As I grew older, Grammer would share with me stories from her childhood.  Later, as I became a genealogy addict, she was always interested in learning about my latest findings.  After returning from a research trip in Grammer’s hometown of Minneapolis, I loaned her a book I’d purchased called “Downtown.” Little did I know I wouldn’t receive it back until Grammer had passed – but she would never tell me why or what happened to it!

A biography of Cedric Adams and an article written by him appear in this book that my grandmother didn't want to give back to me.

A biography of Cedric Adams and an article written by him appear in this book that my grandmother didn’t want to give back to me.

Right after my grandmother’s death, I became reacquainted Grammer’s niece (my mother’s cousin), Pat (Anhorn) Blair.  Cousin Pat told me of my grandmother’s wild teenage years, and I learned a side of Grammer that I’d never known before.  The most interesting detail, however, was regarding Cedric Adams, an overwhelmingly popular radio announcer in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area in the 1930s and 1940s. Continue reading


If only I woulda…..

This notebook was used to hurriedly scribble down notes when interviewing my grandmother after reviewing old letters and photographs.

This notebook was used to hurriedly scribble down notes when interviewing my grandmother after reviewing old letters and photographs.

Spending the last few weeks working on a family history book has brought a few things to light. (Actually, it’s validated some of the mistakes I made along my genealogical journey.)  I hope my public confessions will help a newbie or two avoid some of my errors.  Here is my list of top things I wish I woulda done differently:

1.  Followed Russ Worthington’s system of digital file organization.

I fear my digital files are a lost cause.  Really.  Continue reading


Wordless Wednesday – Decorating with maps, pictures and antiques

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1859 map surrounded by late 19th (and early 20th) century photographs

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The cabinet to the left of the far lamp is filled with antique books and other family heirlooms.

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Black and white family photos on the wall behind an antique rocking chair Ed restored. On the bottom shelf is an sewing machine of my mom’s.

 


Poor Lavina: finding your ancestor’s FICO score in census records

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1860 Federal Census for Benjamin Bursley in Monticello, Wright County, Minnesota

Benjamin Bursley.  Farmer.  Real estate valued at $600.  Personal estate value $100.  Cool.  One small problem.

When first reviewing the info contained on the 1860 Federal Census for Monticello, Wright County, Minnesota, it didn’t really mean anything to me.  I had no idea how Benjamin’s estate compared to 2014 income standards, nor how his family fared compared to those living around him.  Was he rich?  Was he poor?  Somewhere in between?  I wanted to know what life was like for his 12 year old daughter, Lavina, and placing her family in context with the era in which she lived was important to answer my questions.

Using a spreadsheet (Numbers, on my Mac) I transcribed the names, occupations, real estate and personal estate values for all individuals who had this info listed on the census: Continue reading


Getting the ROI on your genealogy subscriptions??

John M. Bursley with his regiment in History of the Fourth Regiment of Minnesota Infantry Volunteers During the Great Rebellion, 1861-1865

John M. Bursley with his regiment in History of the Fourth Regiment of Minnesota Infantry Volunteers During the Great Rebellion, 1861-1865, located with Mocavo.com.

If you’re like me, your email in-box is often crammed with offerings for the latest and greatest – books, websites, webinars, etc.  It usually takes a few endorsements before I jump on the bandwagon and subscribe to a new website, but I’ve recently added three subscription-based sites to my list – HistoryGeo.com, Mocavo.com and MyHeritage.com.  Am I getting my money’s worth from these new subscriptions?  What’s the return on investment?

Continue reading


Twenty Tips for Living with the Obsessed Genealogist

Posing for photos with tombstones is perfectly normal activity.

Me, Scooter Bug and Uncle Humphrey Stanwood in Bar Harbor, Maine – 2013.   See tip #18 below. (In case you hadn’t noticed.  I like the color pink.  And Poodles.)

  1. Once infected, always infected.  There is no cure for the genealogy bug.
  2. The ancestry.com subscription is non-negotiable.  Pick your battles carefully.
  3. Never, EVER throw away paper found on the office floor.
  4. Food.  Clothing. Shelter. Computer.  The basics of life. Continue reading

Julia Hanchet – Original Guardianship Document

This document was found while out shopping for antiques, and I couldn’t pass it up.  My attempts to locate descendants of Julia were not successful, so I’m hoping that one will find me so it can be returned to family!  The document is posted below along with the transcription:

Guardianship2

Nathan Kimball appointed guardian for Julia Hanchet

The people of the State of New York by the Grace of God free & independent – To all to whom these presents shall come or may concern, send Greeting – Continue reading


Tuesday’s Tip: HistoryGeo.com – You Can’t Live Without It!

Santiago_Homesteads_mapview

Using HistoryGeo.com, I was able to easily create this map on Google maps showing Benjamin Bursley’s residence in relation to those of his sons-in-law, Albert Stanwood and James Smallen.

Okay, it might not be as important as food, water, clothing or shelter, but if you are as into maps and land records as I am, then I’m sure you’ll agree – HistoryGeo.com is one of those “must have” subscriptions.  Here’s why:

  • HistoryGeo.com takes Arphax Publishing’s superb books, Family Maps series of Land Patent Books and the Texas Land Survey Maps, and allows you to search by surname, or browse by county, to find those who had land purchases indexed either in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management database or the Texas General Land Office database.
  • When viewing the digital map on HistoryGeo.com, links are included to the individual land owner’s BLM Document, and <DRUM ROLL>…..a link to the tract of land in Google maps!!!!!
  • For under $60, less than the cost of two books, you can have a one-year subscription to access the maps and detail contained in all 500 books published to date. Continue reading

Using DNA to answer: ARE YOU MY (great great great great grand-) MOTHER?

science_dna

In 2010 I took my first autosomal DNA test through FTDNA.  I quickly discovered the frustration of autosomal DNA testing.

1)  Autosomal DNA provides no hints as to what part of your family tree your match comes from.  Given that we each have 64 fourth great grandparents, 128 fifth great grandparents and so on, it can be quite challenging to determine which person is our common ancestor when a DNA match occurs.

2)  Not everyone who does DNA testing is interested in sharing.  That was quite a surprise!  I had always assumed that people who are willing to expend the funds for DNA testing would be similarly interested in collaboration.  WRONG!

3)  Not everyone who does DNA testing posts their family tree for self-exploration by those with whom they have genetic matches. Continue reading


Military Monday – Benjamin Bursley – Civil War veteran

With stories of pilgrims and Revolutionary War ancestors, tales of Indian uprisings and cousins scalped, its no wonder I became a genealogy addict at a very young age. My mother must have been quite astounded that her seven-year-old daughter repeatedly asked about her heritage. Mom’s usual response was, “You’re English, Irish, Scotch, Welch, German and Norwegian.”  She didn’t have much else to offer me, but my grandmother sure did. While we didn’t know WHICH ancestor came on the Mayflower, or who was in the Revolutionary War, we did know it was her mother’s Bursley side that was impacted by the 1862 Sioux Uprising in Minnesota. And, years later, I now know it was also the Bursley lines that had the Mayflower ancestry as well as service in the American War of Independence. So today, Veteran’s Day, I offer this tribute to Benjamin Bursley, my grandmother’s great-grandfather, Civil War veteran and descendent of some of America’s earliest settlers – the Pilgrims. Continue reading


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