Category Archives: Web Sites

Find-A-Grave, more than just graves

The new copy of my great-great grandparents' gravestone, taken by a kind Find-A-Grave volunteer.

The new copy of my great-great grandparents’ gravestone, taken by a kind Find-A-Grave volunteer.

Good stuff starts with Find-A-Grave.  Okay, certainly not all good stuff, but lately it seems like LOTS of good stuff has made it’s way to me, complements of the wonderful people who post on Find-A-Grave.   Take, for example, the photo shown above, which awaited me in my email upon arising this morning.  Find-A-Grave volunteer Jaci happened to be at the Crystal Lake Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, fulfilling a photo request for someone, when she took this picture of the headstone of my great-great grand parents, Albert and Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood.  She had no way of knowing that my yucky photo posted there was taken over twenty years ago, at sunset with a flash, later scanned with a low-res machine, and the original photo lost so I didn’t have any decent version of the precious gravestone.

Taken in 1991, this photo needed help!

Taken in 1991, this photo needed help!

What blows my mind even more is Crystal Lake Cemetery is HUGE, HUGE, HUGE!  What a kind person to be combing that large cemetery for someone, and then on top of it, to serendipitously stumble upon MY family’s gravestone that needed to be updated online.  Totally cool.

My Find-A-Grave stories don’t end there.  I have found the site to be one of the best for making cousin connections.  If it wasn’t for Find-A-Grave, and contacting the individual managing several Bursley memorials, I never would have met my fourth-cousin-once-removed, John.   It was largely John’s research that proved our family’s connection to Benjamin Bursley, a Revolutionary War patriot and a descendant of John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley, two of my Mayflower ancestors.

Most recently my Find-A-Grave connections put flesh on the bones of my Day ancestors.  It was another sort of serendipitous contact – Merrylyn had posted information on my Day family, and when I contacted her, I learned her great-great-great aunt’s sister, Elizabeth Skillings, married John Day, brother of my fourth great grandfather, Aaron Day.  We are both using the FAN principle, researching friends, associates and neighbors of our ancestors, and have had fun collaborating on the John Day/Elizabeth Skillings connection.  Merrylyn had previously obtained copies of some genealogical data on the Day family that had been submitted to the Starks (Maine) Historical Society where John and Elizabeth had lived.  The writer had spent time interviewing old relatives, and stories had passed on through the generations, with the following tidbit revealing the character and personality of John Day, Sr., father of John and Aaron:

“When the children were young they had two Grammy Days. John said his father told him to call his mother’s mother ‘Poverty Hill Grammy.’ He did and his mother spanked him!  Other family notes refer to his other Day grandmother as Pine Woods Grammy. Aaron Day from Waters History lived on what used to be Poverty Hill.  Jeremiah lived in the area today known as Pine Swamp. Hence the name Pine Woods Grammy.”

This simple little paragraph contains several bits of information:

  1. Another confirmation that John Day married his cousin, Sarah Day, daughter of Aaron Day and Sarah Goodhue.
  2. Aaron Day lived at Poverty Hill in Ipswich.
  3. John Day was a character.  I can imagine similar banter in my own household – my husband would make similar jokes and find it hysterical.  Me, not so much.  I can relate to my fifth great grandmother’s dismay at having her mama called Poverty Hill Grammy.  :-)
  4. John’s father Jeremiah Day lived at Pine Swamp, just outside Ipswich, Massachusetts, where he was born.

After learning about these Day family documents, I was able to obtain my own copy from the Starks Historical Society, but never would have known about them (or who to contact) if it wasn’t for my Find-A-Grave connection.  Yup, Find-A-Grave rocks.

 


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


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

Are you have problems with Ancestry.com’s DNA portal?

Error message I receive when trying to access my new matches on Ancestry.com

Are you having issues with Ancestry’s DNA portal?  About a week ago I received an email with a notice stating that I have three new matches.  However, when I try to access them, I keep getting the above message.  Hmmm….sure hoping it resolves soon.  I’m trying to be patient!


Chronicling America chronicles the Stanwood family

Friday night I continued my search for the Stanwood surname on the Library of Congress’ web site, Chronicling America.  What an awesome site!  My great-great grandparents, Albert and Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood, appeared several times in the Princeton Journal – typically when visiting their daughter Georgianna (Stanwood) Cravens.  Here are some of my finds:

Benjamin Stanwood recovers from Typhoid

Albert & Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood visit daughter Georgianna, who is ill

Albert & Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood visit daughter Georgianna, who is ill. This is curious - as Lavina died in 1920, and Albert was residing in Minneapolis at the time.

Albert Stanwood takes A.M. Palon to St. Louis lumbering district

Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood ill

Martha (Bursley) Orrock learns her sister, Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood is ill.

Melvin Stanwood nearly drowns

Albert Stanwood's team drowns in St. Louis river; son Melvin narrowly escapes.


Tech Tuesday: Money and the Great Ancestry.com Debate

Ancestry.com – making my research easier

The year was 1994, and I remember the day like it was yesterday.  That sound…that beautiful sound of a dial-up modem, connecting to the internet.  My husband was by my side, showing me what the “world wide web” was like.  I was mesmerized and astounded.  I don’t recall what I said, but I’m sure “WOW!” was in there somewhere.  Not that there was a ton of genealogy sites online in 1994, but my immediate thought was how this “www” thing was going to revolutionize genealogy.

Well, here we are, more than a decade (almost two!)  later.  My dial-up modem has been replaced with wireless internet service and WiFi in my home.   The internet has grown, and we have a lot of free genealogical stuff available to us online.   Continue reading


Tech Tuesday – ToodleDo, Baaaaaby!

ToodleDo

I’ve gotten used to the snickers of my coworkers, who are amused by my use of technology.  Hey, my goal is to be efficient, and technology is the  best way to get there.  One of the things I learned long ago is whenever possible, only touch a paper once.  Then either file it, toss it, distribute it….don’t save it for later.  Well, often that’s not possible.  Especially in genealogical research, we need to spend time truly analyzing and “digesting” or mentally “processing” a document.  I find when I’m in the middle of a research project, I don’t have time to finish all that I want to accomplish.  I may have worked on a family line all weekend long, but alas, Monday morning comes and off to work I go.  I don’t want to forget where I’m at in the project, so I’ll “ToodleDo” it – that is, add it to my online, cloud-based task management system, so I can pick back up where I left off on the upcoming weekend.  Other times I find I get bored working on one family line, and just need a break.  However, again, I don’t want to forget about ideas I had for research, or overlook data entry of documents gleaned at repository.

ToodleDo for genealogy!

Last Spring I was working furiously on my Bursley family, preparing for our New England trip.  Well, I was also researching several other lines while at the same repositories, and consequently, brought back a considerable amount of data that needs to be reviewed, analyzed, and where appropriate, entered in my database.  The items above are some of the “to do” items for my Bradstreet and Bursley families.

ToodleDo also allows you to include notes for each item. Continue reading


Technology and Tracing Thomas

Hannah (Higgins) Higgins

Hannah (Higgins) Higgins, niece of my 4th Great Grandmother, Betsy (Wasgatt) Stanwood. Photo courtesy of Holly Green.

My favorite ancestor is Betsy (Wasgatt) Stanwood.  She was one tough lady.   She was five months pregnant when she married my 4th great grandfather, Benjamin Stanwood, in 1808.  Not exactly politically correct in the early 19th century.  When Benjamin died, she managed the family farm, and was listed as head of house on nearly all subsequent censuses.  When her grown children and spouses moved to Minnesota, she went along for the ride, but came back to her home – Eden (now Bar Harbor), Maine.   She apparently made this trip alone, although she was nearly 80 years old at the time.  I love Bar Harbor – I understand why she came home.

I’ve dabbled in my Wasgatt genealogy throughout the years, but was again inspired to pick  it back up when I saw the Wasgatt family Bible in Bar Harbor last summer.  Armed with this info, and starting from scratch, I’ve been going through generation after generation, adding appropriate sources that I either lacked in my beginning days, or were dropped when moving from one genealogy program to the next.

One really cool thing about retracing your steps after so many years is that there are a lot more resources available online to assist.   Continue reading


Hello world!

Ernest and Susan (Stanwood) Simpson

My great grandparents, Ernest and Susan (Stanwood) Simpson

Growing up, my grandmother, Goldie (Simpson) Edwards, played a pivotal role in my life. Living next door to her, I spent much of my time at her home. Later, when she moved across town, Mom would drop me off at “Grammer’s” house before school, and the bus would take me there after school. Grammer was the kind of grandmother most kids would want – prepared with cookies and milk when I’d get off the school bus, and always ready to help with home work. At Christmas time she could never keep a secret from me. I don’t recall a year she didn’t tell me what gift she’d have for me under the tree (and sometimes she’d even let me see it!), but always warned me to “pretend to be really surprised!” As a grew up, I began paying closer attention to when she’d tell stories about how family. She always spoke with great pride when she’d talk about her mother being a Stanwood. She’d saved old letters and photographs that would later provide my first clues when I began researching our family history.

Like most genealogists, my first efforts began at the National Archives. I’d spend hours scanning the censuses, and would come home and look for more clues, searching for something I’d missed. Eventually I was able to locate cousins who were also tracing our heritage, and through them obtained more hints to solve family puzzles. After my grandmother died, my mother took a keen interest in genealogy; one of my best memories of my mother was our 2004 research trip to Bar Harbor, Maine, where we visited home of many Maine Stanwoods, descendants of our ancestor Job Stanwood. My mom passed away just two years later, and I will forever be grateful for the hobby we shared together in her last years.

With the passage of time genealogy has certainly evolved; so much information is now available online. Even without a subscription to genealogy databases, one can find clues by “Googling” their surname. While I’ve had many web sites through the years, this is my first effort at posting my family history online. Extending it through a blog to reach out to other cousins is also new – time to catch up with the 21st century!


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