Showing posts from 2016

Big changes

I'm undergoing some major changes in my life.  For the time being, I'm blogging over at One Woman, Reinvented.  Come visit me there! One Woman, Reinvented Recent post:   Reinvented Yet Again And I've discovered a great blog that you German genealogists might enjoy:   "A German Girl in America."   It's filled with wonderful things that those of German background will recognize and enjoy.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings sets a topic every Saturday night.  Here's tonight's topic: 1)   Tell us about your "other" hobbies or interests outside of genealogy and family history research, writing, speaking, etc.  Be mindful of your family's privacy, though! Although I am passionate about genealogy, I do have other interests.  I'm a fine art photographer, with a website here .  Here are a couple of examples of my work: I've also been studying watercolor painting for the past few years.  I love doing it, but watercolor is a devilishly difficult medium!  Here are a couple of my paintings --  after a Turner painting Beyond this, I love to travel.  In the past several years, we've gone to the UK, to Italy, and to Paris. The Eiffel Tower after the terrorist attack Bath, England Florence, from the Uffizi terrace Beyond this, as a retired English professor, I am still interested in research

Sentimental Sunday: Mother's Day, 2016

We siblings have missed our mom for a very long time -- she passed away far too soon, in 1989, when she was only 62 years old.  Because her side of the family is so long-lived (her mother died at 96, her brother at 94), we expected to have her for many more years, and her passing left a great hole in our hearts that can never be filled.  There's so much we'd like to talk with her about, show her, ask her -- especially whether she's doing fine now, and is she with our dad and everyone . . . I think this might be my favorite picture of her.  I can't quite figure out where it was taken -- it seems it might have been on an airplane, but there's a companion photo of my dad, and it looks like they weren't sitting together.  Oh well, yet another genealogical mystery never to be solved. Waltraud Marianna Sophie Berneburg Ortman This is what I love:  Our mom, all dressed up, hair all done nicely, looking so pretty.  What's most attractive is her look o

Looking for a German Surname? Try Geogen.

This morning I was contributing to a thread in the German Genealogy facebook group; a researcher had asked for help in figuring out the German equivalent of the surname Workman . One of the most useful sites I've found for investigating German surnames is Christoph Stoepel's "Geogen" sites. "Geogen" stands for "genealogical geography," and his site will help you locate possible points of origin for your German ancestors. When you put in a name, a map will show you where your family name is found today; the information is current rather than historical but still very useful, since German families tend to be a lot less mobile over the years than are families in the United States. A caveat, though:  if your ancestor's name is Schmidt or Meyer, you'll have a much harder time getting a lead because those names are so common. The less common the name is, the more luck you're likely to have.  Also, the site is most helpful if your family came

Searching for Your German Ancestors Online? A Book Review

As I finish my e-book on German genealogy for beginners, I am of course interested in what others are doing/have done in that area. The cover of my e-book Over the past few days, I've been reading a new book by James M. Beidler, Trace Your German Roots Online .  It's terrific. Whether you're a newbie to German research or an old hand, Beidler's book will have something of interest for you.  His list of online resources is mind-boggling, and though it includes some you may well be familiar with, I'd bet cash money that you'll find more than a few you've never heard of. A unique feature of the book is its step-by-step instructions for how to access information from various sites, from good old to the new site Archion to the notoriously difficult .  These detailed instructions will have you mining German sources in no time. He also offers ingenious "Power User Tips," such as looking at the

To-Do Tuesday: What's on Your List?

I had intended to write something for Motivational Monday, but the day got the best of me. Since I'm getting back in the saddle again, I think I'll take stock of where I am and make a list. 1.  Number one of all things is to finish my book, "Lost in the Homeland:  German Genealogy for Beginners."  I'm getting close to being done; I need to write a chapter on German sources beyond the ones I use in Case Study #2 (about my great- grandfather, Maximilian Langer) and a conclusion, and after that I can ship it off to my two expert readers. 2.  Once this is done, I need to round up some novice German genealogists to read an advance copy of the book and to give me some feedback (if you're interested, leave me a comment, though there will be an official request soon).  3.  I have some branches of the tree I need to be working on.  One of great interest is that of Amanda Sells Manson -- I so want to find out what became of her.  Had she died, as her sca

Entering the Tardis: Genealogy Block Party!

Elizabeth O'Neal at "Little Bytes of Life" has started something that should have a great future:  The Genealogy Block Party.  She sets up a situation, and bloggers jump in and write about it.  This is my kind of fun, so I'm participating.  (Good thing I discovered it, because the deadline is midnight tonight!)  So here's the situation: **************** You and The Doctor (of  Doctor Who  fame) have just finished saving the Earth from nasty, alien monsters. As your reward,  The Doctor has offered to take you for a ride in his TARDIS to meet one of your ancestors! Who is the ancestor you will meet? What question(s) do you need him/her to answer? Is there a problem you can help your ancestor solve? Will you reveal your true identity to your ancestor? If so, how will your visit impact the future? (Remember what happened to Rose when she went back to meet her father.) Will you bring your ancestor to the future to meet his/her descendants? What will be the o

Facebook Friday: Using Facebook Groups to Further Your Genealogical Projects

Some of us spend too much time on Facebook (I'm raising my hand, here); others say they have no time for it and haven't joined -- they'd rather interact face-to-face than online.  But if you're not using Facebook as a resource for your genealogical research, you're missing a type of social interaction that can be a wellspring of information rather than a vast sinkhole of time. Many types of genealogical groups exist on Facebook.  Some have a general focus, such as "Technology for Genealogy," where you can get advice on which scanner to buy or how to back up your research, or "The Organized Genealogist," where you can discuss how keep on top of things with checklists or what should go into surname binders.  Thomas MacEntee's "Genealogy Do-Over" will give you a whole course on getting and keeping everything in order. Genealogy and Newspapers Other groups will help you with aspects of your research.  "Genealogy and News

Lying in Literature, Politics . . . and Genealogy.

I used to teach a class on memoir, autobiographical writing usually covering a limited part of the author's life.  One foundation of memoir is something called the Autobiographical Pact, which means, in essence, that the author offers to the reader the truth of his or her life, and the reader accepts it as such.  This is what differentiates autobiography from fiction; in fiction, no such pact exists, and both writer and reader accept the writing as not-truth. Sometimes readers will search for truths about the writer's life in fiction, but there's no guarantee that truth will be found, because no prior agreement exists, in the case of fiction. I can demonstrate the Autobiographical Pact in action for you if I bring to mind the arc of publication of James Frey's 2003 book, A Million Little Pieces.  M arketed as a hard-hitting account of one man's descent into drug and alcohol addiction, his rehab experience and eventual recovery, the book had a mixed reception.  But

A Tale of Two Blogs: A Small Reckoning

A little over 5 years ago, I started blogging.  My first blog was "One Woman, Reinvented"; a couple of years away from full retirement, I had taken up photography and wanted to share my work and the skills I was learning.  I loved the writing and met so many interesting people through my new interest and my first blog. A couple of years later, I was actually retired and while still enjoying photography, I had become deeply involved in genealogy.  After considering whether I could maintain two blogs, I decided to focus my attention on a new blog:  "Living in the Past:  A Family History."  At first, I expected the readers to not extend far beyond my family, but over time my readership has grown.  I've found things to share with other genealogists and other bloggers, and the response has been wonderful. I became curious about how the two blogs compared.  Here's a small reckoning as of April 26, 2106: One Woman, Reinvented 2-1/2 years, 175

Visiting an Ancestor

I've never been able to visit an ancestor's grave.  The cemeteries where my grandparents and great-grandparents were buried don't exist any more, and my own folks, as is the custom nowadays, were cremated.  So when I realized that on my trip to New Mexico I would have the opportunity to visit a relative's grave, I knew I had to stop. Joseph B. Ortman Jr. was a first cousin of my father, but one that he never knew, because his own father was estranged from his family.  I've written about Joseph and his family before; his life was not easy.  His mother was committed to a mental hospital and stayed there for 30+ years, until her death.  His father worked on the railroad, so he was often gone, and Joseph was left in the care of two older ladies with whom he and his father boarded.  Joseph had no siblings, and he neither married nor had children, so I wondered when, if ever, someone had visited his grave.  Because he had been in the Navy in WWII, he was entitled to b

On my way --

Off tomorrow on a solo trip -- mostly just fun with a little genealogy thrown in. My first goal is Phoenix, but since I can't drive all the way to Phoenix in one day (I tried it to Las Vegas once and it about killed me), I'll be stopping over in lovely Pasadena for one night.  I've learned there's a "shabu-shabu" restaurant right across the street from the motel and so might give that a try. Then off the next morning to my first genealogy stop:  the National Cemetery in Riverside, California.  This is my first trip to a cemetery to pay respects to a relative, in this case Joseph Bernard Ortmann, my father's cousin (whom my father never met).  Joseph was the son of my grandfather's brother, and by virtue of his having been a Navy WWII veteran, was laid to rest in a National Cemetery.  Because he was a man with no siblings who never married or had children that I have been able to discover, I'm guessing that he hasn't had any visitors in

Long time no genealogy

I've been away for quite a long time.  I've been pondering the why's and wherefore's but haven't been able to come up with anything.  So I think I'll just pick up and forge ahead. Linda Stufflebean over at Empty Branches on the Family Tree recently posted an interesting challenge -- six questions each requiring four answers.  I think I'll play along!  Here are the questions and my answers. What four places did my ancestors live that are geographically the farthest from where I live today? Oberglogau, Silesia (now Poland -- the Langers) Lohr, Germany (the Sieglers) Hannover, Germany (many ancestors) Bremerhaven, Germany (the Langer/Berneburgs) 2. What are the four most unusual given names in my family tree? Cuntz D. Alte (Berneburg) Hibbel (Heissenbuettel) Hebelia (Bellmer) Louis Fate (Earthman) Ficke (Mehrtens) 3. What are the four most common given names in my family tree? Johan/Joan/Johannes  (50) Anna (40) Mary/Maria (42) Wil li