About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Where, oh where has that little blog gone . . . yet again!

Excuses, excuses . . . well, I do have a few, but you probably don't want to hear my tales of woe regarding a house needing cleaning, deadlines for other projects (seminar submissions, articles, etc.) looming, and more bookings than I can stay on top of. It's not that bad . . . as some of my Facebook friends will tell you, I've also spent more time than probably necessary playing Words with Friends. (I believe in that old adage: "all work and no play . . . blah, blah." So, in an effort to avoid dullness, I have been allowing myself some "down" time.)

I will be heading to SLIG in January so have also been working on my project for that (said project being due the end of this month). This will help me, hopefully, tear down a brick wall that was constructed with iron rebar. It has been interesting visiting this part of my family that I have often given up on, only to return to a few years later with new leads, most going nowhere. (Decided, also, that it was time to work on my own family history a bit . . . who knows, I may get an article or presentation out of it!)

In early November I'll be going to Mesa, Arizona to spend the weekend with my daughters, granddaughters, daughters-in-law, granddaughters-in-law, close friends, extended family, and a great-granddaughter, too. I don't have the latest count of attendees, but it should be an amazing weekend with very little sleep, I am sure.

Meanwhile, there have been other exciting things taking my time. All my efforts on my Certification renewal, which I did back in May, have paid off and I have been renewed for another five years. Yay! Articles I have submitted have been accepted for publication (in NGS Magazine, Family Chronicle, and SPEAK!). These have all cut into blogging time. And now, to add to blogging diversions: I have just been called as the new director for the Corona Family History Center. I hope to include more blogs for that facility - most dealing with FamilySearch - so this should actually provide me with more blogging, not less. But, until I get acclimated to the new responsibilities, my blog may feel the pinch. But, be patient. I shall return, and will include more of those NARA films.

I do want to add here that I am also going to be doing some "guest blogging" at the recently assembled SCCAPG (Southern Calif. Chapter of the Assoc. of Professional Genealogist) blog; most posts there will deal with SCCAPG particulars. Everyone is welcome!

So, please be patient with me . . . more will be coming.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NARA Blog: Applications for Headstones for US Military Veterans, Part 1

When I tell folks that I am posting information about the National Archives and Records Administration website and the microfilms available for viewing at different locations (specifically, the Pacific Region Facility in Riverside County, California), I am asked, "How do you find anything on that website?" I agree, it can be a challenge; but it is said that the things most worthwhile are difficult to attain. At least, that can be the case here, until one gets used to the system.

I have already discussed how to find out what films are located at which facilities (see the first blog in this series), but here I am going to explain how to get more information on the holdings at the Archives as well as articles on much, much more.

From the home page, click on "genealogists" (lower left hand corner under "Information for . . ."). This gives you an information page that is worth getting to know. While many are distracted by the four categories in the middle of the page, look slightly down to the center heading below those four: "Genealogy-Related Articles." Click that link. The list appears limited, but each heading provides a wealth of articles. For purposes of our discussion, click "Headstones."

The first and only article, published in Prologue Magazine, is titled "Honoring Our War Dead: The Evolution of the Government Policy on Headstones for Fallen Soldiers and Sailors." It is six pages of historic information on the metamorphosis from wooden placard markers to marble, granite, or bronze stones/plaques provided by the Veterans Administration to the deceased veterans of various wars. (Note: at the bottom of the article is a link to another Prologue piece dealing with Confederate Headstones.)

The military headstone documents constitute NARA Record Group 92 and, at least in the Riverside location, are found in four film series. To see these, go to the "Resources for Genealogists" page and focus on the fourth of the four topics in the middle of the screen: "Tools for Genealogists." Click on "on-line research tools" and go to "Microfilm Catalog." That takes us to the "ordering" screen, but let's see what we can find.

In the top left of the screen is the "information" box to begin your search, but next to that is the "advanced search" option. Click that. Under "Record Group Number" enter "92" and, if desired, the location for the film (there is a drop down menu titled "Viewing Location"). For the Pacific Region, Riverside (listed in the advanced search as simply "Pacific Region"), there are only four options (entering no location or different locations will yield different results):

Film Series M1845 (1879-1903) - these are on Ancestry.com  . . . I'll explain how to see those in a moment
Film Series M1916 (1925-1941)
Film Series M2113A (1941-1949)
Film Series M2113B (1941-1949 . . . continuation of A)

Let's look at M1845 first.

On the Ancestry homepage, scroll down, under the Search box, to the heading "More Collections." Click on "all databases" and, in the search box, enter "headstones" under "keyword." The first option provided (as of the date of this posting) is "Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans, 1879-1903" (AKA NARA Film Series M1845). An alphabetical index (by last name) is provided when you click on that record collection link. Granted, the index is only alphabetized by first initial of the last name, so once in that section (say, the "Ys"), you need to browse; but at least all (well, almost all) of the cards are alphabetically listed (I've found only about five that have been miss-alphabetized . . . but I haven't done a whole lot of searching, so you may need to be creative if you are unable to find someone you know should be there). 

As things often are in genealogy, sometimes people don't read the directions or specifications for a collection so it was pleasingly surprising to find my fourth great-granduncle, Jacob Youker (AKA Yuker) in the list. He died on 10 March 1847 in Oppenheim, Fulton, New York but is listed as dying in February 1948 (it is possible that that is when his body was removed to the cemetery location: Mosher Cemetery, AKA Youker-Mosher Cemetery, Lotville, Oppenheim, Fulton, New York). Why would someone who died in 1847-48 (a Revolutionary War veteran who served in the New York Militia) be listed in a compilation of records covering ca. 1879 - ca. 1903? A check of the card explains that the stone was provided by Vermont Marble Company in a contract dated 25 August 1902 (within the time period specified on the records; his stone was obviously obtained long after his death).

Point: Even if your ancestor died before the record group was created, that does not eliminate him/her from the collection. Obviously, if he/she died after 1903, there is little likelihood that his/her name will appear on this listing (I hesitate to say "no chance" because the record collection does indicate "about" 1903), but there are many to follow, so don't give up!

While I am most interested in this earliest series (see my articles on headstone acquisition in Family Chronicle, Jan/Feb 2011, pp. 17-19; and Family Tree Magazine, May 2011, pp. 30-32), I am also interested in more recent wars. Therefore, I will look at some specific entries for World War II burials and headstones in the coming weeks. If you have an ancestor (who is a WWII veteran), let me know and I'll see if a headstone was erected for him/her and listed in the appropriate database (not found on line).

Meanwhile, best wishes in your roots pursuits.