Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sorting Sunday: Playing Catch-up on blog organization

  It seems like every time life gets busy one thing gets neglected - my blog. I had a little time today, so I've been doing my best to remedy the neglect. It's definitely a long process. I'm not done yet, but you'll see a few updates already.
  1.  My "Travel and Research Guide" page has been updated for Durham and Middlefield. If you have any suggestions for improvements, please let me know!
  2. My "Connecticut Blogs" page is almost up to date. There's a little formatting work needed, but I'm getting there. 
  3. The Connecticut Map provides links to every post, sorted by town. Search by town name to get a list. 
  4. I'm in the process of bringing my business up to date. 
  Lesson learned: keep up on things if you can manage!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Follow Friday: Trees for Wethersfield

    Did you know village improvement associations still exist? Yes, it was news to me, too... My sense of the village improvement society came straight out of the Anne of Green Gables series. At least until I stumbled across the blog for Wethersfield's Village Improvement Association.
    According to the blog, the mission of the Association is to "enhancing the local streetscape." In 2009, they launched a movement they called "Trees for Wethersfield." The goal of the movement was to replace trees that had been removed from the surrounding streets. Straightforward, right? Unfortunately, the website for the group is defunct, so I can't tell you the results of the effort.
  So, why am I sharing Trees for Wethersfield? Because the blog has a nice Wethersfield history section. It even has historic photos - my favorite. Some of the content was copied from other sources; some of it is unique to the site. If you have Wethersfield ancestors, it is definitely worth the look!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Follow Friday: Windham Connecticut Cemeteries

   Like it or not, cemeteries are a big part of genealogy. They're the way we learn when our ancestors died, who they were related to, and in a sense, they're the way we honor our ancestors. That's why I find it helpful when someone synthesizes cemetery history into a useful summary.
    Cheryl LeBeau has done just that. Her Windham Connecticut Cemeteries provides a short history of Connecticut cemeteries, a history of Willimantic, and descriptions of the old Willimantic Cemetery. The site functions as a short textbook for anyone who might be interested in Windham County cemeteries. Unfortunately, it's a bit outdated - it was started as the author's 2011 thesis project and doesn't appear to have been added to - and hasn't reached it's full potential.
   What would I like to see? Could LeBeau's site be expanded to contain all of Windham County?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Follow Friday: llewellynbarkerdiaries - a snapshot of life in 19th century Branford

  This time I almost gave up from frustration. Searches for new blogs about Waterbury, Torrington, and Danbury left me empty handed. (Each search takes anywhere between twenty minutes and two hours.) Thank goodness a search - on a whim - for Branford turned up a gem of a blog.
   Ted Braun (with the help of the Branford Historical Society) runs llewellynbarkerdiaries, a blog made up of excerpts and selections from the diaries of Llewellyn Barker. A native of Branford, Barker kept diaries documenting life in Branford during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Entries depict everything from school disputes to the Civil War. The style of blog posts varies widely - early entries are essentially summaries, while later entries are more narrative - but each imparts enough information to be helpful and useful. If you have an ancestor from Branford, this is a must read.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tech Tuesday: Branford GenWeb

   GenWeb sites are usually not the most usable. Many were abandoned sometime in the last five years. Even those that weren't often have problems.  They're based on old website formats or have lists of volunteers who haven't participated in a decade. And then there are the rare sites that know exactly what they're doing.
   Branford falls somewhere in between. The site's outdated (the last update was in 2011); the format is rather basic. However, the content is good. The author - a reference librarian at the public library- provides links to state and local resources and even general genealogy guides. If you have ancestors from Branford and don't know much about genealogy, this is a good place to start.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Matrilinear Monday: Do I have the right wife?

   I've been poking my way back through one of my Revolutionary War lines. The ancestor is already an established "patriot" under DAR rules. No big deal, right? I've added all his children, and I can clearly trace the line between his children and me. Of course, I've already found one issue - I'm not sure my ancestor's wife is identified correctly.
   We know her maiden name, where she lived, and approximate age. In theory, I should be able to locate her on the town birth records. And I can, except for one thing. There are two women of the same name, born less than a year apart to different parents. I can't prove one of the two died or moved - they simply disappear from the record - and the age recorded on her tombstone does not perfectly match either woman.
   Unless I can confirm her age somewhere, my female ancestor is likely to become a brick wall. I won't go forward until I feel comfortable with the parents I've identified. And right now, there's no way to confirm her identity using town records. Church records and probate aren't digitized, so that's likely my next stop.
   I have to wonder, though... What else might work?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Follow Friday: Waterbury Thoughts (Waterbury, CT)

    I finally had to admit defeat on my original  strategy for finding new "Follow Friday" blogs. Turns out you can exhaust the Google search term "Connecticut + history + blog."  I was checking out blogs I'd already seen, reading occasional news articles, and not finding anything new. So I started over... I'm now searching by town name.
   End result - I found a great new blog about Waterbury. Waterbury Thoughts is written by a local artist and touches on her opinions about all aspects of life in Waterbury. Wondering about restaurants, bird watching, and more? Here's your place. And for the historians among us, click on "History." You'll be treated to histories on local scandals, a female attorney, woman's suffrage, and more. It's primarily intended for city residents - or people who want to live there - but it's a great way to learn about your (resident) ancestors.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Military Monday: How often have you actually read the pension record?

  I should have known better... I really should have known better. I finally got back to my personal genealogy research after weeks away. It's been a challenge balancing my classes - I teach introductory genealogy - with my own work. There's always so much new to learn! Since I finally had time, I went right to the meaning to finish line... That would be my supplemental DAR application that's been sitting in a pile for a year. First stop, the ancestor's pension file. Of course, as I discovered, I'd never actually read the pension file.
   Like many genealogists, I do look at the file. The problem is that I often end only skimming the pages. I look for marriage records, death dates, and key pieces of vital records information. If it looks like straight paperwork (application dates, etc), I often end up skipping pages. I didn't do that today - and that's when I discovered I'd been making a major mistake. Buried in the paperwork was a reference to the fact that my ancestor had six children. I had two listed. Oops...
  I'm definitely going back to the birth records. I've already found at least eight kids (some died before the application date). 
   Lessons learned:
     1.Read the pension file. 
     2. Check everything twice.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Follow Friday:The News Blog

 I'll admit it flat out. It needs work. The News Blog has only posted once since November 2012. The posts have to be more frequent to convince me to read the blog on a regular basis. But that's the bad side.
   Fortunately, there's a lot more good than bad. The blog covers history related news in Hartford. Some of it is only of use if you're local, such as the tour referenced in an August 17, 2012 post. A bit of it has national interest, such as the campaign to have the Harriet Beecher Stowe house listed on the National Historic Register. If nothing else, the topics should give you a quick introduction to Hartford's history: Constitution Plaza, anyone?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Italian Settlement in Connecticut

      Do you have Italian ancestors from Connecticut?
     Did you know that where they lived in CT may be an indication of where they lived in Italy? Immigrants tended to settle in one place and stay together. They brought their Italian ethnic identity into their American life. As a result,many towns have sister cities in Italy. If you want to find out the sister city to your ancestor's Connecticut town, start with the website of the town's historical society or library.
    If you're still stuck, there are other resources that might help. The Connecticut State Library has a list of Italian genealogy resources on their website. There's a Facebook group for Connecticut residents with Italian ancestors. And has topics on CT...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tech Tuesday: Adventures in FamilySearch Wiki

   Do you spend a lot of time getting lost on the FamilySearch Wiki? As it turns out, there's a blog for that :)  I discovered the Adventures in FamilySearch Wiki blog thanks to Geneabloggers new blog list. While it still needs a lot of work - there's no way to subscribe to the blog or add comments - the blogger shows a lot of promise. The blog covers how to use the Wiki, what the benefits it offers to the reader, and even how to improve the Wiki. Posts are pretty basic right now, but I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.