21 January 2014

Family Tree Portrait View Helped to Lead Me To Genealogy Gold

After reading Lynne C. VanWagenen's post earlier this month in the Family Search Blog about the Family Tree Portrait Pedigree I decided to take a look for myself.

To access the tree I logged into the FamilySearch website and selected the Family Tree link. In the top left hand corner of the tree view is a drop down menu that allows you to choose Traditional, Portrait, or Fan View.

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This is the Portrait view of my closest ancestors. As you can see, my side of the tree is doing well. I had to work pretty hard to get the photos for two of my relatives but I will save that story for another post.

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My wife's portrait tree was looking a little sparse. I logged in and added a few of the pictures that I had and was surprised to find that I did not have a picture of her great-grandfather Furniss. I asked her if she remembers any pictures of him. Off the top of her head she couldn't remember any pictures but she did remember that he had died when her grandfather was 12 years old.

It has become a custom that we eat Sunday dinner at my mother-in-law Vicki's house. I took the first opportunity I had to mention to Vicki that I did not have a picture of her grandpa Furniss. She said that she had a few but he had died when her dad was very young (my wife was right).

The timing had to be right, or the planets aligned, or the disturbance in the force was enough to make unlikely things happen. Whatever the case, Vicki received a call from her sister Diane that evening. They were planning on getting together to go through some family pictures in preparation for the Furniss Family reunion this summer. Vicki mentioned to Diane that I didn't have a picture and Diane says that she knows where one is and will bring it when they meet.

Flash forward a week, it is Sunday dinner and Vicki says that she and Diane found two photographs of their grandfather, William Robert Furniss, that I can scan. After dinner, and dishes, and football, and a surprise visit by the LDS missionaries; Vicki brings up from the basement a metal box that has a handle on top and a built-in lock. She fidgets with the lock and opens up a genealogists dream collection of records. I thought I could hear angles singing in the background as the top of the box opened.

The funny thing is she set aside the birth certificates, death certificates, marriage records, and baptism records looking for the pictures. She stopped to show the form her mother filled out to have her birth certificate amended. Then she found the first picture.

Four Furniss Brothers (from left to right) Cliff, Frederick, William, and Earl.
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I don't have anything against the picture, it is a nice photograph and one I did not have before. In fact, I did not have a picture of two of these brothers before. However, the pile of records sitting in front of me really had my attention. In all there were 41 records (certificates, obituaries, funeral programs, etc).

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This is a birth certificate issued by the Historical Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is for William Furniss' wife Sietska. The information is based on the earliest church records found in Groningen, Netherlands.

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This copy of William and Sitska's notarized marriage license is also a neat time and money saver.

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This is the blessing certificate for William and Sitska's oldest son Frederick (my wife's grandfather). It is dated 3 March 1915. Those with LDS roots may be interested to know that along with this certificate is Fred's Baptism, Deacon, Teacher, Priest, Elder, Seventy, and High Priest certificates as-well-as his first temple recommend, two priesthood line of authorities, and two letters from Salt Lake about his clerk and executive secretary callings. Also in the box was his high school diploma, birth, marriage, and death certificates.

Three Generations: (from left to right) Robert Jr., Frederick, and William Furniss.

This is the second picture that Vicki and Diane found of their grandfather William Furniss. The little guy in the middle is their dad Fred. It all goes to show you that people don't always know what they have in there basements. I am so grateful to have experienced this genealogy treasure. I credit the Furniss family for their wonderful record keeping, Lynn VanWagenen for her post, and the wonderful tree that Family Search put together to help me identify the photograph holes in my tree.