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Showing posts from February, 2015

When Boredom Creeps In . . . Try Something New!

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I've been feeling pretty bummed about genealogy since I got back from Salt Lake City -- don't know why, exactly, but it seems as if I'm spinning my wheels and not getting anywhere.  I've tried spending more time going collateral but haven't uncovered much new about the Ortmanns.  I've requested a few things, especially the medical records of an ancestor who died in a mental institution, but haven't heard back.  I've emailed a few possible connections through Ancestry and My Heritage, but have gotten no response.  I could write away for more certificates, but I'm kind of broke right now.  So what to do?  I've been googling this and reviewing that, going over my tree and cleaning up sources, thinking about what microfilms I should order next from Salt Lake . . . there are, in fact, many tasks I could be doing, but it's mostly tedious work and I just don't feel like doing it.  Frankly, I'm bored with the whole thing.

But, I'm keepin…

The Ortmanns of NY and NJ: An American Family

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Long ago, when I first started ancestor hunting, I read the advice that if you get very stuck on something, just write down everything you know.  I've gotten myself frustrated with my grandfather's family, so that's what I'm going to do.

My grandfather, William J. Ortman Sr., was estranged from his family, so we never knew any of them.  I have no pictures or other memorabilia; I actually have very little at all from my dad's childhood, I don't know why.  I've been trying to "go sideways" lately, doing collateral research on my grandfather's many siblings, but at this point I feel as if I'm spinning my wheels.  So here goes with what I know.

Joseph Ortmann (b. 1845 in Erkeln, Germany) and Anna Christina Schwietering (b. 1856 in Nienborg, Germany) met in New York and married at St. Joseph's Church in Tremont, The Bronx, NY on September 26, 1874.  The church had just opened six months before they were married.

St. Joseph's Church, Tr…

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

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I love playing Six Degrees of Separation.  I can easily get to many famous people within a few degrees.  For example, a good friend of mine (one degree) dated Jermaine Jackson (two degrees), who obviously knew Michael Jackson (three degrees).  I can continue that one to four degrees -- Elizabeth Taylor, Brooke Shields, etc.   Or two degrees from Mae West -- my grandmother used to ride to work with her on the bus to Manhattan when they were working girls.




Randy Seaver of Geneamusings has asked us to play for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.  How far back can you get in four degrees of separation from your ancestors?

Here's one:  My grandfather, William Ortman Sr. (1893-1955) knew his father Joseph Ortmann (1845-1911), who knew his grandfather Conrad Ortmann (1810-1888), who knew his father Conrad Ortmann (1777-1823).

Or, here's another one:  My grandmother, Sophie Berneburg (1886-1981) knew her mother, Christiane Bellmer (1859-1938), who knew her grandmother, Anna…

New Technologies

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Back from RootsTech with new technologies.  I'll be having fun learning how to use these --


1.   At last, I have a new scanner!  I got myself a Canon LIDE 220, and so far I like it very well.  It's small enough that I can use it while sitting on the couch watching TV (because as we all know, scanning is crashingly boring).  Now that I have it set up, I think, it's making good copies.  Here's a nice old family photo from 1960:


Uncle Eric, Grandma B, Deb, Lise, Chris, Aunt Hilda, Grandma O, and Mom.  Dad must have been behind the camera.

I believe that this picture was taken at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis, when the New York relatives came to visit.  I'm pretty sure that Grandma Sophie was still living with us and Grandma Ortman was just visiting.   I'll be having fun with this new scanner!  

2.   I've purchased Evidentia and hope to be watching a webinar tomorrow on learning how to use it.  While participating in the Genealogy Do-Over, I've come to rea…

Salt Lake Roundup: Final Thoughts

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I'm back home and have caught up on my sleep -- because I had a 7:30 AM shuttle on Sunday, of course I didn't sleep one minute on Saturday night.  And now that my head has cleared a little, I can pull together a few thoughts on the Family History Library/RootsTech experience.

1.   It's a good thing I didn't invest in those snow boots I was looking at; the weather was unseasonably warm.  I think I put my jacket on once, when walking back from the Library.  Because a door to the Salt Palace was right next to the Radisson, I didn't really need it.

2.   Salt Lake City has some beautiful things to see -- the mountains all around, the beautiful Temple Square, a lovely, clean city.


Credit to Ken Lund  on Flickr; Creative Commons license

3.   The Family History Library has a reputation for being difficult to use -- whole books have been written about how to get the most out of your visit.  But if you've done your preparation ahead of time, it's not hard at all.  Hav…

Salt Lake Update: RootsTech Day 1

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Whew -- what a day.

We bloggers started at 7:30 this morning with a guided tour of the Exhibit Hall.  It was amazing to see how vast it was, and how many vendors' booths we would have to explore.


I marked my Expo Hall map with stalls I would like to visit later.

After the tour, we were escorted into the main hall where the morning keynote would be held.  At this point, I was enjoying the experience of looking at fellow bloggers' faces or name tags and saying, "I know you!"  It's a great pleasure to meet those you have only "known" on line to this point.  We bloggers were given special seats near the front, which was wonderful.  Soon the program started, and we all turned into cheering fans when Josh, Kenyatta, and Mary from the Genealogy Roadshow were introduced. 

So much fun to see them!
We were also treated to excellent talks by Dennis Brimhall from FamilySearch, Mike Mallin of MyHeritage, and Tan Le of Emotiv Lifesciences.  Tan's story of her early…

Salt Lake Update: Part 2

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Another great day in Salt Lake! 

I got going pretty early so I could have breakfast and take care of my conference registration before I went to the Library.  Here's one thing I learned right away:

The Salt Palace Convention Center is huge! A lot of things here are huge-- the things that look like a block on the map are actually about two long blocks, in my estimation, and since I'm having a bout of back trouble, they seem like two miles.
I was happy when I booked a room at the Radisson and their website said they were right next to the Salt Palace.  This morning I went in the door that is indeed right next to the hotel, and I walked . . . and I walked . . . and I walked.  A man directed me to walk down the hall and go up an escalator where his wife would give me further instructions.  She told me to go all the way down and turn right and go a long long way and then down an escalator again.  When I finally got there, I felt as if I'd found the holy grail!  I made sure I foun…

Salt Lake Update: Part 1

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Well, here I am in Salt Lake City!  Got here yesterday after a nice flight and wound up sharing a shuttle with three others who were, of course, headed for the Library and FGS/RootsTech.  It's not hard at all to make friends -- so many people are here for the same purpose, and genealogists are by nature very friendly.

Today I got up early and headed for the Library -- so did more than a few other people:



When they opened the doors at 8 AM, we all made a beeline for our resources.  I skipped the front desk, where I could have gotten a "first-timer" name tag and watched a video introduction to the Library -- I just didn't want to slow down, and I didn't want anyone asking me if I needed help.  I found a microfilm reader, got out my notes, and headed for the microfilm storage.


Just one of the loooong rows of microfilm readers on the B1 International Floor

I started with the question about my great-grandmother, Christiane Bellmer Schulze.  I'd like to know at what …

Genealogical "Extras"

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I feel as if I'm marking time for the moment -- the Genealogical Do-Over has me going over previous research, not doing much that's new; on the one ancestor I am working on, I'm waiting for a number of documents to arrive; and I'm counting the days before I leave for Salt Lake City (Monday -- four more days!).  So I don't have much new to write about . . . yet.

I've been thinking about some of the "side benefits" that come from doing genealogy.  These take various forms:  the cousins you discover, the friends you make in the genealogy community, the satisfaction you get from seeing a brick wall come down.  But one of the most enjoyable parts of genealogy, to me, are the subjects and bits of history that open up along the way.  These things can expand our world view greatly, and keep the synapses of those of us pursuing genealogy in our senior years firing.  Here are a few things I've learned about along the way:

1.  The history of the North German…

A Miscellaneous Kind of Day

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1.  I've accomplished quite a bit on the Genealogy Do-Over (go-over, in my case); the latest achievement is setting up a "genealogy toolbox" wiki to keep all my links at my fingertips.  My next step, I think, is to go through my tree and eliminate duplicate facts and events (tedious!), just generally clean things up.



2.  I've been trying RootsMagic 7 and have felt very frustrated in doing that -- it doesn't sync with Ancestry, when I import the latest GEDCOM the media files don't come with it, I'm confused about the process of checking links with MyHeritage and Family Search -- I confirm a match, but then the information isn't transferred back to RM -- again, you have to do that by hand.  I think I'll put that aside for now and come back to it.  If you really like RM, please tell me that the learning curve is worth it!





3.  I'm eager to finish the story of Joseph Ortmann and his two wives, but I'm waiting for a number of documents to arrive…