28 June 2015

What is your father's name? 52 Questions W4

This week I will focus on the following question -

What is your father's name?

Good follow-up questions that easily go with this question are:
When and where was he born?
Is he still alive? When did he die?
What is your most vivid image of your father?
What are some of the most valuable lessons your father taught you?
Is there anything that you wish you had asked your father but haven't?

I have also included at the end of this post 90 questions to ask your father (if you can).

I know this post comes a week after Father's Day. I should have planned better. I almost moved this question up but I felt it was important to first sketch out what you know about the members of your family before you begin connecting them together.

Last week at my new job I went to a two day training called The Big Picture. The concept of the training was to give an overall view of the entire company, its goals and mission. During the training Dennis Brimhall, the Chief Executive Officer, spoke about how some see our place in our family as a link in a chain. This is something I said in my 52 questions W3 post. Dennis went on to say that we are more like a link in chain mail.

Our family relationships are much more intricate than a straight line. It is important as we begin to learn and document our families that we have this view. The most important people in our lives may be in a straight line like in a pedigree tree but we are all linked together an supported by a much bigger family. As we work to find and tell the story of our Family History we must always keep this in mind.

As we build our family tree we need to remember to document our relationships. Most of us know who our father is. We have known this all of our lives but for our descendants this knowledge will not be firsthand. I have many photographs of me and my father. I also have my birth certificate where he is listed as my father. These documents and sources will prove valuable to future generations. As we ask our 52 questions we must remember to try and find sources and other documentations as well as stories and pictures about our relatives. (see end of this post for questions to ask your father.)

In terms of western culture we usually receive our surname from our father. Surnames are also know as your last or family name. A given name is usually our first name or the name we are generally called in casual conversation. When we enter data into databases or websites we are usually asked for this information. I have found that this tradition is not recognized throughout the world or even throughout the western world. My wife's grandfather is from Holland. There are many common surnames but they were not required until after 1811.

In parts of Asia the family name is placed before the given name. Many Spanish descendants have compound surnames that take both their paternal and maternal names and put them together. There is a modern movement in England and America to also use compound names separated by a hyphen.

Almost all of the surnames in my family tree are from European origin. Surnames come from several different origins. First there are occupational surnames. These are names given to people based on their trade or occupations. You may have heard many of these names like Baker, Carpenter, Cook, Fisher, Gardener, Potter, Smith, Taylor or Weaver.

My surname, Trotter, is said to be an occupational name. A Trotter is said to have been a messenger or letter carrier. I assume they rode horses to preform their duties because there are also horses named Trotters. They may have also walked to preform their duties because pigs feet are also know as Trotters. Whatever the usage, occupational surnames have roots in many different European countries and languages.

Second, there are surnames based on personal characteristics. These names are are less common than occupational surnames. Examples of characteristic based surnames are Little, Long, Gladman, Good, Hardy, Lover, Short, Strong, Tall, Wise and Young. Within this category are also names like Black, Green, and White.

Place names are the third group or surnames. Place base surnames include Darby, Hamilton, Lincoln, London, Quincy, and Trent. These types of names provide clues to where a family may have been born, lived, worked, or owned land. It may also point to the name of a farm, hamlet, town or country. The next group is very similar to place names however they are tied to more generic geographical features and are less likely to lead to a specific place. Geographical surnames are like Brooks, Bush, Hill, Lake, Stone, and Wood.

Patronymic surnames are passed down through a male given name. These names are made by taking the father's first or given name and adding the ending son. Scandinavian examples of these names are Anderson, Harrison, Jensen, Larson, Olson, and Peterson. Because of this naming system there could be several people in the same place with the same surname that were not related. There are also matronymic surnames derived from a female given name. These names were generally given when the child was trying to be separated from their father for some reason. These names are like Madison, Emmott, and Marriott. In some of these cases the ott ending is representative of daughter or dotter.

Scottish clan names were also adopted as surnames. These clans live in certain areas of Scotland and northern England. Many of these clan names are well known; Armstrong, Campbell, Douglas, Grant, Hardy, and MacDonald.

Trotter Family Crest or Coat of Arms [English]
The practice of devising, granting, displaying, describing, and recording coats of arms and heraldic badges [www.internationalheraldry.com/].

I have not put a lot of stock into heraldry. Not because I don't necessarily want to, but because it is confusing to me that there are so many different options and claims of official crests, tartans, and shields. I don't want to choose the wrong option.

Trotter Shield [Scottish]
Part of my hesitancy is because I have a brick wall ancestor and cannot connect my Trotter family outside the United States. The other part is the confusion over which symbols are correct for my Trotter line.

The above Coast of Arms is a basic English design. I like the colors and the lion. The shield to the left is red with three boars heads. I am not as visually draw to this shield although something inside me tells me this is my true family shield.

This Scottish Clan clasp to the right has a knight in armor, holding his courser (a kind of horse) caparisoned (draped) with an argent ( shield with the boars' heads) and gules (red neck piece). The motto In Promptu means in readiness. The argent in the background is the tartan of the clan.

A tartan is a pattern consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colors. Tartans originated in woven wool, but now they are made in many other materials. Tartan is particularly associated with Scotland. Scottish kilts almost always have tartan patterns. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartan]

This family crest to the left is a combination of the English crest above and the boards head shield. There is a tartan in the background which as you can see is much different than the one above and below.

I will continue looking and I suggest that you do as well.

1.       How are you most different from your parents and grandparents? How are you the same?
2.       How did you and Mom meet?  Why did you marry mom?
3.       How would people who knew you in high school describe you?
4.       If you could go back to one day in your childhood, which day would that be? Why?
5.       What was your favorite movie or book when you were a kid?
6.       What was your favorite movie or book when you were my age?
7.       What is your favorite movie or book now?
8.       Do you have a favorite band or song?
9.       Do you like ice cream? What is your favorite flavor?
10.   When did you realize you were no longer a boy?
11.   Who were your best friends and why?
12.   Why did your parents give you your name?
13.   Why do you live here now?
14.   What size shoe do you wear?
15.   What is your favorite hobby?
16.   What is your favorite National Park?
17.   What is your favorite thing to eat?

18.   What are some of your earliest memories?
19.   Did you ever win or earn an award?
20.   Were you ever in the newspaper or on television?
21.   Has anything ever happened at a family wedding that you’ll never forget?
22.   Have you ever been fired before?
23.   Have you ever quit anything before?
24.   Tell me a story about a family reunion or family party that you remember attending as a child.
25.   What are your best memories of holidays or family gatherings as a child?
26.   What are your favorite childhood memories?
27.   What did you have as a child that kids today don’t have?
28.   What did you want to be when you grew up?
29.   What do you remember about the houses you lived in as a kid? Which one did you like the best?
30.   What was the hardest thing you went through as a child? How did you overcome it?
31.   What was your favorite pet when you were a kid?
32.   What was your favorite subject in school?
33.   What was your first job and how did it go?
34.   When you were a teenager, which family member did you go to for advice? Looking back, was it good advice?
35.   Did you (or would you) serve in the military?

36.   Did your parents or grandparents ever lose their jobs? What happened? How did they start over?
37.   How did your parents change after they retired?
38.   One thing you wanted to hear your father say to you?
39.   Think of some relatives that have passed away in the last few years. What would they be doing right now if they were with you?
40.   What are your favorite stories that grandpa/grandma told (or still tells)?
41.   What did your grandparents do with you that you loved? What did they do that you didn’t enjoy so much?
42.   What do you remember most about your dad?
43.   What do you remember most about your mom
44.   What is the best thing that your grandparents ever cooked? What about your parents?
45.   What is the most embarrassing thing your mother or father ever did to you?
46.   What three adjectives would your grandparents use to describe you?
47.   What traditions your father pass on to you and you passed to your children?
48.   What was your relationship with your father like?

49.   If you could know anything about our family history or about a relative who has passed away, what would you want to know?
50.   Are you living your dream or are you chasing it?
51.   Do you believe snitching is a good or a bad thing? Have you ever snitched on a friend?
52.   Do you consider cooking and cleaning a woman’s work?
53.   Do you have any regrets for something you wish you would have done?
54.   Do you think crying is a sign of weakness?
55.   How do you deal with criticism?
56.   How do you discover new ways to do something i.e. did you brainstorm and put in on paper, did you daydream etc.?
57.   How has being consistent changed your life?
58.   How important is personal appearance?
59.   How much education is enough?
60.   How much money is enough?
61.   How would you define a father’s role at home?
62.   How would you like to be remembered?
63.   If you were to win the lottery how would you spend the money?
64.   Is there anything that you wish you had asked your parents but didn't?
65.   Is there anything you always wanted to tell me but never have?
66.   Is there something that you wish you had experienced that you haven't yet experienced?
67.   Were you a giver or a taker?
68.   What are key ingredients for strengthening a family?
69.   What are the three things in life to never do?
70.   What are the three happiest moments in your life so far?
71.   What are the top three things that you stand for?
72.   What are you most grateful for?
73.   What habits do you have that are not aligned with your core values?
74.   What has been your greatest accomplishment?
75.   What has been your greatest struggle?
76.   What has been your strategy in challenging your children to do more?
77.   What is your favorite joke? Why?
78.   What mistakes taught you the most about life?
79.   What world events have had the most impact on you?
80.   What's the greatest game you ever saw?
81.   What’s the best decision you’ve ever made?
82.   What’s your philosophy on fatherhood?
83.   What’s your secret to building true friendships?
84.   What’s your strategy for taking major risks?
85.   Which do you have more of courage or integrity?
86.   Which mistakes taught the greatest life lessons?
87.   Which was more important to you being a father or being a husband?
88.   What was your vision and purpose for your children?
89.   Which family member has been your greatest coach in life? How have they coached you? What has made them good at it?

90.   Do you believe in God?

27 June 2015

Hey Ben Affleck:History makes us who we are

I had someone tell me this week that they find it hard to blog because they don't know their audience. I told her that I don't really know mine either but I just write what I know as much for myself as for anyone else. Then I found myself questioning if I should write this blog for fear of being branded something I am not.

I have been following several stories in the news that effect genealogy and family history. One could argue that every story in the new has the same effect. I have been reading about the senseless mass shootings at the church Charleston, South Carolina. Psychosis and hate are a plague among man. I do not know why man can reach the depths they do, I only know that there is balance in all things. I have also seen men do great acts of compassion and love.

There have been calls over the years to remove the confederate flag from state capitols and other government facilities. I am not sure for the exact reasons the confederate battle flag flies anywhere really. I am sure men have decided why and where for both good and maybe bad reasons. However it seems to be a blatant removal of objects from history could doom those in the future to forget what has happened.

There has also been an uproar about Ben Affleck requesting that his southern slave-owner ancestors be left out of his appearance on "Finding Your Roots". His attempted cover up is seen with scorn. I am not sure how his embarrassment and attempted cover up over his roots is any different than removing the confederate flags or monuments in the south. Whitewashing the past does not make things any less true.

My grandpa, Richard Junior Trotter, was in the 82nd Airborne. He fought in WWII in the European theater. He was caught behind enemy lines during the Battle of the Bulge. Adolph Hitler and the Nazi movement is not anything to be proud of. My grandfather hated few things but the Nazis and Hitler were on his list. I do not think it is right or proper to agree with or fly the Nazi flag. It is a true symbol of hatred and beliefs that can only be condemned.

The swastika was not always a symbol of hate. I am not sure what could be done to remove the stigma that is now attached to it. It it now owned by those that deal in hate. An easily used symbol to convey meaning with out words. Races, religions and the rank in file all know the hate behind the symbol. If the swastika had been reclaimed as a religious symbol of the cross or an oriental symbol of the sun the hate it now conveys could have been lessened.

I fear the same fate will become of the confederate flag. Instead of a century of forgiving but not forgetting, it will be a symbol left to haters and the uneducated. Ben Affleck had an opportunity to admit his heritage and then acknowledge how far removed from slavery he is now. As far removed as we are from our southern roots we now live in a country without slavery but not a world with out it. I cannot believe that there was a time my ancestors could own other people and believe it was a right. I cannot believe that there are still people in the world today that believe the same.

Instead of Whitewashing our heritage and history we should turn perceived symbols of hate into symbols of change. Hiding American history under the rug from our children does not teach them anything. You can bet the haters will only wave their flags higher. Which side do you want teaching out kids?

22 June 2015

Who are the members of your family? 52 Questions W3

This week I will focus on the following question -

Who are the members of your family?

Good follow-up questions that easily go with this question are:
Are you married? [Where? When? And to Whom?]
Did you have any children? [What are their names? Why did you choose your children's names?]

Who is your oldest living relative?
What is the most enjoyable memory of time spent with your family?
What traditions are still practiced in your family?

This question is where you begin building your tree. The first two questions were about you. The rest of the 50 questions focus on your relations and links to other members of your family tree.

Your immediate family includes the father, mother, and children. Your extended family includes the grandparents and their children, the aunts and uncles, and their children, the cousins. Direct ancestors are your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents, etc. Direct ancestors are not aunts, uncles, or cousins. This weeks question pertains to your immediate and extended family which includes your direct ancestors.

Printed Pedigree Charts come in all shapes and sizes. They are handy for tracking your direct ancestors.

Some are offer places to enter more details and pictures.

Some can look intimidating but are very functional.

They all serve to show you in a visual way what direct ancestors you have information about and who you do not. Most of the genealogy websites have similar Pedigree Charts. However they also allow you to easily view your extended family members.

FamilySearch offers three different tree views starting with the landscape tree.

FamilySearch later released their popular fan chart.

The newest FamilySearch chart is the decendency tree. This tree shows not only direct ancestors but also their descendants.

Ancestry also offers a landscape pedigree chart.

There is also the ancestry decendency chart. Both ancestry trees allow you to upload images as well as link people to Facebook and display their current profile pictures.

There are so many different websites that offer tree views of your family. It would be impossible to show them all. The above are the pages I see and use the most.

I use Legacy as a personal database where I am the only on who enters data. There is a pedigree view.

As well as an immediate family view.

It also go beyond a pedigree view so you can add sources and other information about each individual.

It is important that as you gather information about your relatives that you not only record the information but also record where you got the information. We will discuss this at a later date. Make sure to at least write down the information that you gather and a note as to how you got the information. You can also try out a database like legacy for free if you want.

Feedback - 

My second week of family Facebook posts produced much more responses than I imagined. I did go back and answer the first weeks question for myself. I received 15 total responses between the two questions. That is over 375% growth over last week. I think I will follow this pattern and see if the responses continue to build.

20 June 2015

The Roots of Family Traditions and the Stories We Should Tell

I was driving my 17 year old to work and we were running a little late. She had taken a shower and dried her hair but planned on putting on her makeup in the car. This is a custom I have seen her do many times as we have rushed to different events. This time however, we were riding in my little truck. I have grown to love my truck. It has taken me on many adventures as well as many more routine trips. In a couple more years it will officially be a classic. The classic features of my truck include windows rolled by hand and an enthusiastically uncharged air conditioning. As the temperature rises I have  I have become accustomed to riding everywhere with the window down.

As my daughter struggled to apply her makeup she patiently asked that I roll the window up. As I complied she began to paint. As we got a couple miles into our drive she asked why it was so hot in the cab of the truck. It was then that in dawned on her that windows were down to control the temperature and not for my simple pleasure. As I thought about this, my wife is always asking me to roll up the window in our new car. The wind from driving with the window down in pleasurable to me but distracting to her. My daughter was asking me to do the same without realizing why I had the window down. I did not realize that I have been driving my whole life with the window down. It was only recently, to me, that we have had a car with air conditioning. Where my daughter has come to expect the convenience.

I am not trying to wax nostalgic but only illustrate that customs and traditions are passed down from generation, sometime out of necessity. Some customs become traditions with out us realizing it and others without our intent. It reminds me of a story I heard once. I can't remember if I heard it in a cooking class at school or a talk in church. Snopes tells me it may be an urban legend, but it still rings true to me.

The story goes something like, a young bride is cooking her first Thanksgiving dinner. She is using the new set of pans and dishes to make every delicacy the has enjoyed as well as a couple recipes from her new husband's family. They invited each of their parents to join them for the feast and well as her grandmother. As they sat down to feast, the young husband brings in the turkey to carve it in front of the guests only to be surprised that the legs of the turkey have already been cut off. He asks his lovely bride why the legs have already been detached and she replies, "That's how my mother always did it". Her mother quickly adds, "It helps to keep the breast meat from overcooking and becoming dry. That is how my mother taught me to do it too." Satisfied with the answer the groom begins to carve the rest of the beautifully prepared bird when the grandmother says, "I only cut off the legs because it wouldn't fit in the pan I always cooked it in."

I am not sure why I remember this story but It has always stuck with me. Both for good and bad, traditions and customs are passed down family lines. Snopes says that a similar story ran in a Canadian edition of Reader's Digest:
"When my friend Dale opens a can, she always turns it upside down to open it from the bottom. One day her young son asked her why. "I don't really know," she said. "My mom always did it that way." She decided to call her mom and ask. "When we brought the cans up from the cellar, the tops were always dusty," her mother explained. "I couldn't be bothered to clean them, so I turned them upside down and opened the bottom."
Food is a great way to see things passed down through families. These traditions and family favorites can be cultural as well as traditional. My son is serving a mission in Australia. He arrived there in October with is summertime there. In November he was invited to an American families home for dinner. When he arrived they ate a traditional thanksgiving feast. When he related the experience at church the following Sunday only the American's in the congregation truly understood the dinner. The majority of people had only seen and heard of American Thanksgiving. They had never experienced it themselves.

My grandma 'B' always made us fried Spam with Kraft macaroni and cheese. She would put a squirt of ketchup on the plate to dip Spam and in the bowl to stir in with the mac and cheese. I was a teen before I new that this was only considered a delicacy to my grandparents and their grand kids. My grandfather ate many cans of Spam during the great depression years. It was something he could not only afford but could keep without the cost of ice or refrigeration to keep it from going bad. When I was young I even saw him use it as fish bate but that story is for another time.

It is true that corned beef and cabbage is as Irish as spaghetti is Italian.  Both meals are traditional but the custom of corned beef can only be traced to our Irish American ancestors. An article from History.com conveys more accurately the story behind the custom:
"The new wave of immigrants brought their own food traditions, including soda bread and Irish stew. Pork was the preferred meat, since it was cheap in Ireland and ubiquitous on the dinner table. The favored cut was Irish bacon, a lean, smoked pork loin similar to Canadian bacon. But in the United States, pork was prohibitively expensive for most newly arrived Irish families, so they began cooking beef—the staple meat in the American diet—instead.

So how did pork and potatoes become corned beef and cabbage? Irish immigrants to America lived alongside other “undesirable” European ethnic groups that often faced discrimination in their new home, including Jews and Italians. Members of the Irish working class in New York City frequented Jewish delis and lunch carts, and it was there that they first tasted corned beef. Cured and cooked much like Irish bacon, it was seen as a tasty and cheaper alternative to pork. And while potatoes were certainly available in the United States, cabbage offered a more cost-effective alternative to cash-strapped Irish families. Cooked in the same pot, the spiced, salty beef flavored the plain cabbage, creating a simple, hearty dish that couldn’t be easier to prepare.
I remember eating corned beef and cabbage as a child. Far from our Irish roots the cost of the dish was one my family could afford. My dear mother prepared it is a heavy broth with mostly cabbage and spices and thinly sliced corned beef chopped into tiny pieces. It wasn't until I was married and my mother-in-law made corned beef and cabbage that I realized it wasn't traditionally a soup. We also ate beet greens, grilled tuna and cheese, chipped beef on toast [or SOS], broken bread cereal, and fried turnips. I cannot say for sure at the food we ate was because of our own financial status or because these were traditional foods that my parents ate as children.

I know that my parents made cheese fondue. One of my all time favorites where bread, fruit, and meats are dipped into cheese. This traditional food became a fad in the 70s but this is one recipe I make sure I have on occasion. I do not feel as nostalgic about the beet greens or chipped beef on toast but I need to get that turnip recipe from my mom. I also stopped eating mac & cheese with ketchup.

When writing stories about our families do not assume that your children understand what you are talking about or why you did the things you did. I have heard my parents talk about life before television or my grandpa's first ever ride in a car. To our descendants they take these kind of events as everyday things. Much like the new generation of Family Historians who don't leave home to work on their Family History because "everything's on the Internet". To sound like my parents, I remember life before the Internet..... These details in stories add texture and meaning. Hawaiians may appreciate a good Spam sandwich but when I bought two cans last year and fried one up the other stayed in the cupboard for several months.

The stories I tell my kids about my ancestors are those I can remember best. Those stories have color and texture that help me to remember them. Genealogy and Family History needs this to keep people interested past the dates and dashes. Do not let your database strain out all of the facts and figures only to lose the flavor and traditions of your family.

15 June 2015

Where were you born? 52 Questions W2

This week I will focus on the following question

- Where were you born? 

Good follow-up questions that easily go with this question are:
When were you born?
In a hospital or at home?
How did your family come to live in this place?
Who else in your family was born in the same place?
Did your parents or siblings like to tell any funny or embarrassing baby stories about you?

The second of the big three data points used in Genealogy and Family History. Location is a unique identified for a person and their family. This question goes hand in hand with who am I? In order to learn about our families we need to know where each person was born. Of these big three genealogical questions it is the last one we can answer for ourselves. I have never had a person tell me where they themselves died and were buried.

Place of birth alone with most locations is time dependent. I have ancestors buried Amite (pronounced A-meat), Mississippi. However, when they were born Mississippi was not a state. It was a territory of France before becoming a state. The area in which they were born was slit in half  when the state boundaries were drawn and the family living in the south end of the area found themselves in Louisiana. Throughout the years modern day Greensburg in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana and the surrounding area has been in three different parishes because of new county boundaries.

It is important to document where people were born at the time of their birth. My relatives from the south could have records in several different places. This part of the world was also part of three different countries and two different religious structures. in some instances there could be records of my ancestors in Cuba, France, and Spain.

As the United States pushed further west and my pioneer ancestors settled in Utah, the boundaries here even began to change. Many of my ancestors who were born in Utah were not born in the united states because Utah did not become a state until 1896.

There is software available called AniMap. The FamilySearch Wiki says:
ANIMAP is a software program that shows the county in which a city/town in the United States was located in any specific year. Many cities and towns have been located in more than one county, or even state, at different points in time. It is essential to know the county and state in which a town was located at the time of a birth, marriage or death to know where the record is located. 
I have used AniMap many times in trying to learn about and study the different locations of my ancestors. I first learned about AniMap from Geoff Rasmussen at Legacy Familytree.

A very similar source for information is the Atlas of historical county boundaries. This website is free to use and allows you to find basically the same information but it seems a little easier to use than AniMap. To quote from the website:
A project of the William M. Scholl Center for American History and Culture at The Newberry Library in Chicago, the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries is a powerful historical research and reference tool in electronic form. The Atlas presents in maps and text complete data about the creation and all subsequent changes (dated to the day) in the size, shape, and location of every county in the fifty United States and the District of Columbia. It also includes non-county areas, unsuccessful authorizations for new counties, changes in county names and organization, and the temporary attachments of non-county areas and unorganized counties to fully functioning counties. The principal sources for these data are the most authoritative available: the session laws of the colonies, territories, and states that created and changed the counties.

Another important aspect of where you were born is how did your family get to this place. This key information can lead you to the next branches of your family tree. My grandmother was born in Reno, Nevada. Something that didn't really click with me when I was younger. I always thought she was born and raised in Utah.

Wilberta Annette Merrian Bartholomew (1922-2001)
[My mother looks so much like her it is scary.]
When the 1940 census was finally released I found her at the age of 17 living with her parents Wilbert and Henrietta. She is also enumerated with her younger brother and sister. The thing I found most interesting is that the family had a lodger at the time who was also enumerated with them.

Click to view larger version
If you can tell the name of the 27 year old lodger is Bartholomew, Dale who was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. Yep, that's my grandpa! The cradle robber! This census was enumerated on 19 April 1940 and they were married 3 October 1940.

A. Dale Bartholomew (1913-2002)
Carpenter and fisherman [and cradle robber]

I have a 17 year old daughter at home this year. I made sure we did not take on any lodgers. I think I would of had to by a gun or something if I were Wilbert.

It was a different time. They were married for 61 years and had four children. They died just over a year apart from each other. They were major influences and care givers in my life.  I love and miss them very much.

Feedback - Security and Success?

Well my first posts to my family face book pages were relatively successful. I posted the first question: What is the name you were given at birth? I received four responses. Compared to the one response I got from my initial posts I made that had the whole questionnaire I received 400% more responses.  I am hoping that if I stay consistent that things will grow and others may go back and respond to my previous posts.

I had one cousin that raised a question about privacy concerns. She said;
I don't mind answering your questions related to genealogy however, I'm a bit hesitant to give answers here on Facebook. It just doesn't seem very secure. Some of these questions are similar to those secret security questions for online account validation. So we need a secure way to exchange information and also some reassurance that the data you collect will be kept & used securely too.
It is sad that we live in the world which we do. She is right, much of the data that I am trying to collect from living members of my family is very similar to data that can be used for secret questions for online account validations. I am not sure how to truly get around this issue while trying to use social media to gather information. It is however only an issue when discussing living people. I quickly gave her an option of printing the entire questionnaire and mailing it to me. I also assured her that the information is kept on my private Legacy database and that I will not publish information to the internet.

I do not believe that the questions in themselves are harmful to post to a private group on the Internet. However, when there is a will, there is a way. I am surprised how many full names, birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, and other private data that is opening shared on Facebook. An accumulation of this information can open yourself to security issues. Please be careful. I have thought about this with regard to my blog and the information I have posted here. We all need to be very careful with information we share about living people.

Let me know what you think about the question of the week. Would you add any information? Are you worried about security issues?

08 June 2015

What is the name you were given at birth? 52 Questions W1

This week I will focus on the following question -

What is the name you were given at birth?

Good follow-up questions that easily go with this question are:
Were you named after a relative or family friend?
Why was your name chosen?
Have you ever had a nickname?
Who gave it to you and why?
What do you know about your family surname?

All family history and genealogy begins with you. When we find the links in our family chain we must begin with ourselves. The same goes for a Family History Questionnaire. The person answering should begin with themselves. Naturally the first question should then be, "What is your name?"

A more accurate question may be, "What is the name you were given at birth?" This question can elicit more than a simple response. Peoples names can change over time, especially women's names. People also have nicknames that can be given in many different ways.

My given name is Mathew A Trotter. The 'A' is just an initial. My father also has just a letter for his middle name. His letter is the first letter of his father's name. My letter is the first letter of my mother's father's name. My initials are M.A.T., this is why my first name only has one 'T'. I have signed my name as Mat, Mathew, and Mathew A. I have also been called Matt and Matthew. In college I rushed a fraternity and they called me Mathias. I had a job during college and the checks were made out to Matthias Trotler. To this day I have many friends that still call me Mathias.

My wife goes by her middle name, Rachel. Her fist name begins with an 'M'. I have received mail addressed to M. R. Trotter that was intended for me instead of my wife. We have a son we call bear. When he was a baby he would curl up in our arms to fall asleep. He would snore and it sounded like a little growl, like a cub. So we called him our bear.

My grandpa used to call my dad Homer. It had something to do with a T.V. show or something. Once the Simpsons came on he stopped using the term. My youngest brother does not remember our dad being called Homer. Until my mother's father died I did not know he was know by his middle name instead of his first name.

My grandpa's name is Richard. My uncle is also names Richard but has gone by Dick for most of his like. According to this Mental Floss article,

"The name Richard is very old and was popular during the Middle Ages. In the 12th and 13th centuries everything was written by hand and Richard nicknames like Rich and Rick were common just to save time. Rhyming nicknames were also common and eventually Rick gave way to Dick and Hick, while Rich became Hitch. Dick, of course, is the only rhyming nickname that stuck over time. And boy did it stick. At one point in England, the name Dick was so popular that the phrase "every Tom, Dick, or Harry" was used to describe Everyman."

These are all personal examples of nicknames and other name changes. My third great-grandmother was named Eliza Metcalf. When she was a baby she met Eliza Snow who was a very well know Latter-day Saint. She was a plural wife of both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Her brother was also the fifth president of the LDS church. Eliza Snow's middle name is Rocxy. When she held my great-grandmother she said, "Oh you are named after me." Ever since then her parents called her Eliza Roxey Metcalf.

All names are important when tracking down sources. I have found that a lot of census records contain nicknames of family members. It is important that we keep track of them and know what the possibilities are.

As I have stated in previous posts, I am a Legacy user. In Legacy you can track and source all of the different variations of the names you find.

My relative in the screenshot above had the nickname of Jody. As you can see I have also found information about him under the name John. The 'S' in the column on the right shows I have a source for this name. When I click the books icon in the lower left corner I can see what source is attached to this name.

The 1920 Census list the head of household as John Bartholomew. However his wife's name is Annie, and his children's names are Lila, Dale, Fawn, Arvilla, and Norma. I know my grandfather's family well enough to know that this is his father, mother and siblings.

For some reason the census enumerator entered his name as John. There are many reason's why this may have happened. I do not thin that John has ever been used as a nickname for Joseph. This is clearly a communication or other error. None the less this is a great example of how nicknames can be used to find sources for your family records. Annie is a nickname for Anna, my great-grandmother's first name. Both Dale and Faun are middle names that both my grandfather and his sister go by their middle names.

I hope this weeks questions lead to great sources for you. Let me know if you have any successes.

07 June 2015

Family History Questionnaire in 52 Weeks?

I really don't remember the first time I came across the suggestion to send out a questionnaire to members of my family to gather information. I do know that I decided this would be a good idea and I went about putting together one from suggestions on the Internet. I surely did not come up with the idea myself and I did not come up with the questions myself.

Looking back I was more interested in gathering good information than I was at citing who I got the idea or question ideas from. On November 20th last year I made posts in my family groups on Facebook that said:
Many of us will be enjoying dinners and other festive occasions with our relatives during the next few weeks. I would suggest this is a great time to compare notes with the relatives.

Please fill out the first part of this document and send it to me.

I have put together a questionnaire for members of the family. It is in two parts. The first part is a sketch of you and your parents and grandparents. The second part fills in the sketch.
The posts included a link to a word document I put together with the questions.

Looking back I tried to figure out who I got the idea from. I came across a blog called The Art of Genealogy where blogger Karen Hadden discussed 10 great sources for interview questions. I do not recall reading her blog but she and I may have had the same inspiration. Google led me to a pdf link to a list of interview questions that was apparently compiled by Tracey Carrington Converse. The same list is discussed in Karen' blog I mentioned above. Texas A&M has a page on their Family and Consumer Sciences website that also have very similar questions that the copyright at the bottom of the page says were written in 2015 by Virginia Allee. The UCLA center for oral history also has a page with similar questions.

I am in quite the company for using these questions. There are by no means the end all of questions but they seemed to be effective. Of the 42 people that Facebook counted as seeing the post, I received one back. ONE!

I have seen several bloggers post about their 52 ancestors in 52 weeks. Although I did not take this challenge to post about my ancestors I thought It was a good goal to do one a week so I thought I would turn the table and start collecting information about ancestors each week. I am going to post one question a week and see if I can create a dialogue about the questions and our families. I will use the list I have compiled as well as others that may come based on events or holidays that week. I will share them here as well to spark your own thoughts and perhaps questions. you can answer them or comment about them if you wish. The idea is to spark memories and record responses.

It looks like others have tried to participate in similar ways. The Teach Me Genealogy blog started on January 1, 2014 at week one with, "How Did You Get Your Name?" It looks like she made it to week 22. It also looks like the Geneabloggers had weekly blog prompts starting in January 2011 with similar topics. Their week one started with, "Did your family have any New Year’s traditions? How was the New Year celebrated during your childhood? Have you kept these traditions in the present day?!" Just like the original questionnaire I mentioned, I do not think I am the first person to have this idea. I just want to try and get my family members to discuss our family so we can learn more about each other and out ancestors. I hope I can get past the first few weeks.