Sunday, July 6, 2014

Medical Records/Cause of death

We are often desirous of finding out the medical history of our ancestors, even recent ones. We don't always have easy access, or even any access to those records: 1. You have to know who their doctor was or where the records are kept. 2. Because of confidentiality, even if you find who has those records, they are strict in who they are willing to release the information. 3. The records may no longer exist, even though they are suppose to be kept for a relatively long time. 4. The company may no longer exist.

Are there ways to get around this??? Yes there is. You may not get as detailed of a report, but you can get some idea of what their health issues were.

How can you find it, you ask? Here are several places that you have easier access to and can check them out:

1. Death certificates (there are also doctors names signed on these records that might lead you to more detailed information.
2. For ancestors further back before death certificates, this may be harder to track down. Church records sometimes would list the cause of death.
3. Mortality Indice - if you are fortunate enough to have your relative die within the year of the index.
4. Military records. Go for their complete packet. You will want their retirement information. If a widow applies for benefits, she has to produce proof of death. The medical information and cause of death are often recorded.
5. Railroad retirement records - again when the widow applies for benefits.
6. Social Security benefits - now I haven't tried this avenue, but I know that survivor benefits are issued and this may be another source of information for you.
7. Insurance records. If you are fortunate enough to have knowledge or information on what insurance company an individual used, you should be able to get information from them as well. You may have to prove just cause for receiving this information.
8. Veteran's hospital. My grandfather-in-law died in a Veteran's hospital. I requested his records, which I eventually got. But it gave me information about his death.
9. Census Records - they obviously won't give cause of death, but sometimes you will find illnesses listed.

This is by no means an exhaustive list and if you know of any leave a comment. We would love to add it to this list.

By using this method, and if nothing else, you can get general ideas, or trends, or groupings of illnesses in your family tree. Some folks even create a medical family tree. If you have serious health issues, this can possibly be beneficial for you to find out.

Now You Know!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What is family?

Lewis Van Gorder, with son, Kevin and 
daughter Karen, 1960

In genealogy, it's all about family. Strictly defined a family is a parent and a child, blood related. And normally it is a Mom and Dad and a child that they have brought into this world. When it comes to genealogy this has been especially true. 

You couldn't buy software, when computers were becoming popular, that didn't allow for anything more than that. In the purest sense that is what makes up a family. When it comes to lineage society, it has to be the blood line that make up your family history. The same is true when it comes to royalty as well.

But times are a-changing! Adoption has been around for a very long time. Moses was adopted by an Egyptian Princess. Children weren't even told they were adopted, until just very recently, relatively speaking. Our picture above is of my uncle and his two adopted children, Kevin and Karen who are 9 months apart. I have three uncles on my mother's side. Lewis and Leon both adopted children and the youngest uncle, Bob, was adopted himself.  

If it weren't for adoption, I would have no cousins on my mother's side. Growing up we never gave it a thought that they were anything but our  very own cousins, children and grandchildren. They were as much a part of our family as everyone else!

In today's culture we have blended families, foster families, adoptive families and even more.  How do you handle this when it comes to genealogy? This can be a delicate situation, especially when it comes to children that have been adopted outright (not a result of a blended family.) In many cases even yet today, children aren't told they are adopted. You may know they are because you remember when they joined the family.

So how do you put this into your family history? First of all, the information may need to be kept confidential until the person in question has passed away, or at least the parents of that child have passed away.  This is probably the most difficult one to handle and in the end you have to decide how to record it.

When it comes to software, today's editions have broadened the choice you have in entering them into your genealogy program. Fortunately you now can include them in your family and do it accurately. When I started genealogy, that wasn't an option. I put my uncle and cousins in as if they were blood relatives and then entered information into the notes.  They are a part of our family, but at the same time I didn't want the information to be misleading.  Sometimes down the road, there may be a need to find out medical information and inaccurate information would lead them on a goose chase.

My adopted uncle's daughter (my cousin) has cancer. Our grandparents and her father have all passed away. The main characters on the scene have all gone, so she pursued finding her father's birth family to see what medical issues they may have had that would lend assistance in her journey. It is a long and beautiful story but she found them, and learned many things. Had we not known this was the situation, and did not keep accurate records the end of her story would have been totally different.

So if you have anything but the straight, pure, traditional family, you still need to include them in your family history, but do it accurately. If necessary, delay the information, to protect confidentiality, or restrict access to that information. But be accurate in all you do and record. We talked before about the importance of documentation. The whole point is in being accurate. Include your whole family, but now you can be accurate, as well.

Happy Hunting!

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Today I had the wonderful opportunity to teach poetry to 4 classes of sixth graders. It was a delight to pick their brains and help them create their own poems. While talking to them I shared some of my own poetry. One of them was a poem I wrote about a civil war soldier.

Part of the lesson we talked about what inspires a person to write a poem. Some people write poetry, some write stories, other people don't write anything at all. So how is that there are people who even write poetry. As I was sharing with them the back ground of the poem for the Civil War soldier, I mentioned that I had a great grandfather who fought in the that war.

Not only did I write a poem in memory of him, he too had written poetry. This is probably where I get the gift, why I do it, or the penchant to write words in such a way that they rhyme. I had an Aha - light bulb moment! Besides poetry lesson, this is also a genealogy blog idea!

Did you ever wonder where you got some of your talents, or traits? I know this is one thing with which adoptees struggle. So when they find their natural parents it's such a joy to find out where their traits or penchants come from. Why do you throw your head back and let out a big bahaha laugh? Where did your son get that interest in music, or where did you daughter get her red hair?

Maybe no one in your immediate family plays anything except the radio, or mp3 player. Who knows, you might find an article in a newspaper someday where your great grandfather played in a band, at the Grand Opening of some fine establishment. You'll lean back in your chair and say - so that's where my son gets his natural talent for the guitar - my own great grandfather played a guitar.

Or maybe you'll find military papers (one of few places that will tell you color of hair), and you'll realize that this is where your daughter gets her red hair, even if no one else has red hair, ...or so you thought. She got it from your great grandmother.

Digging into genealogy helps you uncover all kinds of treasures. So keep at it. You'll always find something unexpected. (And you thought it was just about dates, names and places!!! Surprise!)

Let me know what YOU find!

Now You Know!!!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tombstone Symbols

Memorial Day is coming soon and many of us will be visiting our family graves. If you are one of those who will be doing so,  take time to note what 'decorations' or symbols are part of the tombstone. They have different meanings. Some can be symbolic like a cross, or dove or anchor. Others could be insignias for military or fraternal organizations, or maybe occupations.

Last Monday was our genealogy society meeting for May. The topic of the evening was tombstone symbols. Two of them that were mentioned I have found on my family's markers. The broken column is on my Great-grandfather's grave. My Great-grandmother had said he was the pillar of the family and now he was gone. So a column was made to look broken in half and the top part lay across the top of the marker. (If I had pictures I'd post them. If I run across any, I will.)

(Sample; NOT my great-grandfather's)
Another common item is the lamb. It's used for many reason. Jesus being the Great Shepherd and we are his sheep. But also, it is often used for babies or young children. My parents had a little boy that died before I was born. So on the top of his little grave rests a lamb - sweet and innocent.

These two are NOT from my family's graves, but they are similar.

Take time this year to look at your family's markers as well as maybe some of the others in the cemetery. Also, if  your relatives get together over Memorial Weekend, now would be a good time to talk to some of them and ask questions! Don't miss your opportunity!

Now You Know!


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How Did Your Grandparents Meet?

Show and Tell was the program at our DAR meeting for this month. I picked out my great-grandparents marriage certificate from 1875 and also two sets of picture - one about the time they got married and one much later in years.

Alvin and Amy about the time of marriage, 1875

I had wondered how on earth they could have met. Alvin lived in Bradford Co., Pa. (East Smithfield) and Amy was from Hector, Schuyler Co., NY. In the 1800's that's quite a distance. There must have been something that stands out from ordinary life that would bring them together.

This is a good example of paying attention to documents and papers when you do your research. Be sure you don't get so zeroed in on your personal ancestor you are researching. Be sure and look at what you find before and after on those documents.

That is what paid off for me. I had been researching for a few years - enough that I was familiar with Amy's parent's relative. Her mother was a Kingsley and "lo and behold" - Caleb (Alvin's father, and Mary, his mother) had some Kingleys for neighbors, her relatives!  Well, 'dontcha' know that when Momma went to Pa. to visit family, the kids were out getting acquainted with the neighbor's kids!

(Amy and Alvin in later years, closeups of pics in certificate.)

In this instance it sparked a romance. Oddly enough Amy went to Pennsylvania to have her wedding, even, instead of back home. (Now I haven't figured out that one as to why, as I had never thought of it before till just now writing this post. Guess I better get back to digging.)

Now You Know!!!


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Scrap Notes Notebook - Done!!!

Today, I went out and got my notebook (3 ring binder), dividers, and page protectors!  I couldn't fine one that already had the alphabet on the tabs so I had to buy 3 packages of dividers that were 8 to a package. By putting X Y Z on the last tab I had just the right amount. Now if you're reading this and you have a different alphabet, you'll have to figure out the number of dividers you need.

I put two page protectors behind each letter - one for Surnames and one for Topics, et. al.  Although on the book title sheet I did list only Surnames. Oh Well, I can always do that over. You can see by the illustrations how I set this up. I have already started putting my scrap notes in it.

Here you see two notes - one in each page protector - hard to see because they are clear.

This will be handy to grab when going through boxes and piles, finding new scrap notes. My cost was about $20, partly because I found the binder at a garage sale and it was given to me free! Now, do you have yours done???

"History is who we are, Genealogy is who I am." SG

Now You Know!


Friday, May 16, 2014

Scrap Notes - HELP!!!

Since I have retired from my profession, I have created a to-do list, at least mentally. One of those items is to get my office area organized (do we ever?) and begin going through the boxes and boxes of genealogy notes, files, and other ephemera!

One thing that I am bad about and maybe you are, too, is writing myself notes on small scraps of paper. Have you ever wondered what to do with all these little pieces of paper? Well, so have I. Tonight I had one of those 'light bulb' moments. I have an "information please" notebook for general tidbits of information - why not one for genealogy. It can be as simple or complex as you want it. However I have found that the more complex I make it, the less likely I am to keep it up.

Sometimes just buying an A-Z dividers is the easiest way to sort the information. Course, the question comes when you can file something 2 or 3 different ways. How do you solve that? Make a list in the front of your book - like an index. It will help you remember what you filed where.

I sorta use this idea with my bills and important papers in an accordion file. So here's a good example of 'where do I file?' I have insurance papers: house, car, and medical. Do I file everything house related under H, or do I file all things insurance under I? These are the kinds of things you have to decide what works best for you when you do your genealogy information notebook.

When it comes to genealogy my inclination would be to file everything by surname. SO -- for me, A would have any/all information for Adams, Allen, Aldridge etc. B would include Bowers, Bennett, Brown. C would possible contain information for Clark. However this is not a surname I am not actively searching. But if I proved a "c" section, it will be there whenever I decide to throw something in.

I was all ready to post this when I realized there are 'other' information tidbits we also collect: hours a historical society is open, tips in researching Germany, how-to this or that! You could create two notebooks - one for surnames and one for all else - or - just throw them all into one book. It's what works for you!

NOW - Let's get our act together and make us a note book for scap notes!!! We'll conquer the paper mountain one piece at a time!!!

Now You Know!


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Marquand Family

Genealogy tip for the day: Marquand Family

I've talked about networking before. This is something I have learned by experience. After working on my side of the family for several years, I started working on my husband's side.

His grandmother was a Gilbert, but alas it was one of those hush hush subjects because her father had deserted her and her mother when Grandma was about 5. So I had to find information the old fashion way - search and research!

In the process I did find information about her Gilbert side. Along the way, I also found a cousin. LRC is about our age, but technically she was a second cousin to my mother-in-law, daughter of the above mentioned Grandmother.

In the meantime LRC and I have corresponded and become acquainted. We found each other on Face book and today she posted a photo of a grave marker of one of Grandma's ancestors, E.D. and Mary Marquand.

Many things came together to make this possible: research, networking and social media. Now I have a picture I formally did not have!!!! Woo Hoo.

“History is who we are; Genealogy is who I am” sg


Now You Know!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Book Recommended

Genealogy tip for the day: Book Recommended

Do you remember the series, seen or heard of "Who Do You Think You Are?" Megan Smolenyak has written a book of the same title. She is also part of the team that puts together the TV series that we see from time to time.

I would suggest you get this book, if you get the chance. It does come in soft back and is less expensive. It does contain all the same good advice. The only thing it doesn't have compared to the hardback are the pictures that are in the center of the hardback copy.

Some of the ideas that I put on here, come from that book. I know you can get it through Barnes and Noble, and from Amazon. There are probably a few other sources that you can use as well to obtain the book.

If you get the chance and can save your pennies for it, I would highly recommend you buying it. You can take your time working your way through it, mark or underline the parts that will be helpful to you, making it easier to find. It will be worth your while to get a copy. The copy I have cost $16.00 (softback). Make yourself a note to check into it today... You'll be glad you did.

“History is who we are; Genealogy is who I am” sg

Like what you read? Let us know.


Now You Know!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Misspellings and Accents


Now that I have retired from Library work, retirement will take me in new directions. I will finally once again be able to be more involved in my personal journey in genealogy as well as many other interests.

As a result, beginning May 1st, I will only be posting on the blog, once or twice a week and will no longer continue with recipes. I hope you have enjoyed the recipes we've posted and even ventured out to try a few. I have! :-)

Genealogy tip for the day: Tricks of the Trade
I attended the genealogy society Monday night and was glad to see there were some folks there I actually know. The lady that spoke talked about tricks of the trade, and surprisingly - many of the things she mentioned, I have already shared with you on my blog! So I guess I'm right on track!

We've talked about misspellings. One point that was made was that folks from different part of the country, or the world for that matter, have definite accents. As a result, names can be misspelled. Boyce may sound like Bice, or Boss, maybe even Bose.

Another tip - letters can look very similar. S and L in cursive are easily confused. b's, d's, and p's can be misinterpreted. Unconnected loops can give a false reading. I'm sure this is probably true of a lot of other letters as well.

When you're searching a particular surname, try to think about the different ways it may sound. These will give you ideas of other spellings you might try. When our speaker did that, it helped her to break down some walls.

“History is who we are; Genealogy is who I am” sg

Like what you read? Let us know.


Today’s Recipe
April – Tomato Month

(I saw this from Pinterest - I think I'll try it, myself.)

2 Tomatoes
1 1/2 oz Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp, leaves Spices,
oregano, dried
1 dash Salt
1 dash Black Pepper
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Slice Tomatoes. Place them on a baking sheet. Top with shredded Parmesan, fresh oregano, salt and fresh ground pepper (season according to your taste). Drizzle with some olive oil and bake until tomatoes are tender and the cheese is melted, for about 10-15 minutes.

Apr 1st   Caprese Stacks
Apr 18th Semi Homemade Tomato Soup
Apr 30th  Parmesan Tomato Bites


Now You Know!