Author Archives: Lauren Mahieu

My quest for a camera and cheerful robins adorn the cemetery

Robins bring life to the cemetery

Robins bring life to the cemetery

I’ve been on a quest for a new point-and-shoot digital camera, primarily for use at archives and libraries.  My DSLR was just so heavy and big and difficult to use when photographing documents that require hands to keep flat, and my iPhone just doesn’t have the clarity – especially in dark libraries. In addition, I also wanted one that would double for photographing scenery when out and about.  My search led me to the Sony Cybershot RX100, and I couldn’t be more pleased.  While shooting pictures at a cemetery this afternoon, I spotted this cheerful robin who was loitering around some headstones. I crept about 8 feet from him, and using the telephoto lens, was able to capture this pic  – proof I will be able to leave my DSLR and lenses at home on my research trips.  :-)


Are you stalking your mail carrier???

The love of the mailbox

The mailbox – another love of genealogists!

From childhood, the mailbox has always created a sense of expectancy for me.  However, genealogy has created an obsession with mail delivery.  What genealogist isn’t waiting for something at any given moment?   I will be very happy this afternoon if I receive any of the following items I’m currently waiting for:

1)  My grandmother’s social security application.

2)  The Milo Story, a book about Milo (of course!) in Piscataquis County, Maine, by Lloyd J. Treworgy.

3)  Documents from new-found cousin, including photos and a copy of a chart drawn in the late 1800s showing relationships to a common ancestor.

4)  Notification of approval of my Daughters of the American Revolution application.

5)  Notification of approval of my Mayflower Society application.

What are you hoping to find in YOUR mailbox today?


Pension file gem: Amos Day, 1856 letter to his father Nathaniel

The War Eagle, upon which Amos drafted this letter to his father, Nathaniel Day.

I spent my Valentine’s Day happily buried in pension and land records at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  On my agenda was the review and photographing of the pension and land records of the family of my 3rd great grandmother, Cynthia (Day) Bursley.  Most interesting was the file for Amos Day, a Union solider who died in a Georgia Confederate prison on 14 October 1864.   His mother, Eunice (Boobar) Day, had filed for a mother’s pension, and as proof of Amos’ support, she included in her pension request several letters which showed Amos’ financial contributions toward the family.  The first of these letters is dated 13 October 1856, while Amos is traveling west from Maine to Minnesota aboard the War Eagle. Continue reading


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

LR1

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

LR2

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

LR3

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

census

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


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