Friday, October 28, 2011

Just in time for Halloween...some more cemetery wandering!

I actually didn't go into this cemetery yesterday, since I had an appointment I had to get to, and I've definitely been to more rundown, spookier cemeteries than this one, but it was pouring rain and just so dark and gloomy out, and the entrance with the leafless vine was kind of creepy, that I had to stop and take a few photos. This is the church cemetery at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Elmont, on Long Island, just over the border from Queens County. I love cemeteries but I think even I would get a little spooked by actually being in a cemetery on Halloween, especially on a day like this!

St. Boniface Catholic Church cemetery, Elmont, New York. Taken Oct. 27, 2011.

Through the gate at St. Boniface cemetery, Elmont. Oct. 27, 2011.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Some Halloween genealogy fun: Prince Charles claims Vlad the Impaler as ancestor

With Halloween right around the corner, I thought this was a fun/scary genealogy story. Not sure I'd want to be related to someone who inspired one of the most iconic, scariest vampires ever, but we don't choose who our family is! :)

Prince Charles claims Vlad the Impaler as ancestor

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blast from the past: Old Bethpage Village Restoration

Old Bethpage Village Restoration, opened in 1970, recreates a typical mid 19th century Long Island farming village, with preserved and reconstructed buildings from all over Long Island. It's like a very tiny Colonial Williamsburg - you can go inside the buildings, which are set up with furniture and knick knacks and paintings from that time period, and staff dressed in costume will give you the history of the house, or demonstrate some skill or trade that villagers might have used.

Main road to the crossroads

I have always had fond memories of going here on field trips when I was a kid in school - I loved going to the general store for old fashioned candy and a cup of birch beer. I always felt like I was transported back in time. But the boyfriend had never been, so we went over the weekend - it was a blustery but sunny day as we walked around the town square watching 21st century kids playing with 19th century toys, visited the Powell farmhouse (and I cringed as he tried to feed one of the cows), looked at the goods (real 19th century paint powder!) and advertisements in Layton's store. One house was so tiny his head was nearly touching the ceiling and with Halloween so close, I was kind of hoping but kind of not hoping we'd see a ghost.

The boyfriend doesn't even look like he'll fit in this house!

Probably the coolest thing, though, was Noon's Inn, which was an East Meadow tavern that served mostly local farmers looking for a drink at the end of the day and 14 hours of manual labor. The original location of the Inn was two blocks away from where the boyfriend grew up and lives, and it was built circa 1830, though restored to what it would have looked like about 1850 - which was about the time my family was living in East Meadow (my great great grandmother Delia Dauch Berg was born in East Meadow in 1858), so her father and brothers might have actually stepped foot in that building!

Recreated bedroom

The general store - birch beer, anyone?

Noon's Inn, from East Meadow, is on the right.

Terrible photo, but this was a map from 1840 on the schoolhouse wall. On the bottom righthand corner, you can see Raynortown, the old name for Freeport, which is where I it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Quick Monday post...

Monday's are super busy at work, but I came across this story today on by Mark Whitaker. I always enjoy reading about how someone got interested in their family history, the hows and whys they decided to dig a little deeper. Whitaker also gives some good tips for anyone who not only just wants the dates and facts, but the stories behind the stories - he interviewed old family members (with more than a little insistence and cajoling it sounds like) and asked them for any paper documents - books, diaries, letters, etc. - that they had held on to from back then, which I thought was a great idea. You never know who has what, or what they have that will give you more info, even if it's just a glimpse into "a day in the life" of that person - my grandfather was a packrat, and because of that, we have his father's daily planner, documenting the ordinary ins and outs of his routine, including work, card games with friends, visits to family members, for the entire year before my grandfather was born. Ordinary, every day things that tell us a little more about who these people were. Anyway, nice story at CNN. Check it out if your Monday is a little less hectic than mine! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shout-out of the day: Italian Genealogical Group

I have not a drop of Italian blood in me, but I have to give mad props, again, to the Italian Genealogical Group for having been an invaluable resource to me in my family history research. You can see where their work started, what with all the Italian immigrants who came through/ended up in New York City, but for anybody who has late 19th century and/or early 20th century family history in New York City (that would be all five boroughs), you are doing yourself a great disservice by not visiting their website. While you can't find actual records or record information on their website, the group's many wonderful volunteers have put in countless hours indexing the vital record holdings for the city's municipal archives. That means that when visiting the archives in lower Manhattan or sending away for them from the archives' website, you save both time and money by already having a spelling (for those of us whose families loved to spell their names every which way imagineable under he sun) AND a certificate number.

I especially wanted to give them a shout-out today because as I've been going through my laundry list of records I need, I found in their index two certificates I have been searching for for YEARS - the birth certificate of my great grandfather, Frederick Stutzmann (listed under Fred Stutzmann) and the death certificate of HIS grandfather, Peter Stutzmann, who I could never prove emigrated or died in New York City instead of his native Germany, even though I had somewhat reliable information saying he died in New York on January 10, 1891. Well, thanks to a search just 5 minutes ago on IGG's site, I found a Peter Stutzmna who died in Brooklyn on January 10, 1892. I can't know for sure yet that this is MY Peter, but my gut is telling me that it is, and when it comes to genealogy, my gut is always, always right.

You can find the Italian Genealogical Group's website here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Doing your genealogical laundry

Laundry isn't fun - it involves a lot of sorting and organizing and gathering and folding, which is the WORST - luckily, genealogical laundry doesn't involve the folding part, but sometimes, researching your family tree isn't about making new, exciting discoveries. Sometimes it's about just the nitty-gritty, the mundane task of figuring out what it is that you have and finding out what it is that you need. And not even in the sense of "Who was Great grandpa's parents?" In the sense of "I know everything there is to know about Great grandpa, now what documentation do I need to back that up?"

Lately I've been floundering, family history-wise. I have a lot of loose threads, a lot of incomplete information, a lot of new, exciting paths to continue down, but a lot a lot A LOT of rounding out the picture of people I've researched for years and know all the facts about but none of the story in between. It's been overwhelming and honestly, boring, all at the same time, and so I've just ignored it. Ignored it, ignored it, ignored it, and during Family History Month, too! ::shakes head::

So today I'm making a list, a laundry list if you will. I decided to check out the Italian Genealogy Group's website and it turns out they've added some new records to their index, and so I decided to look back at my own records and see what was missing. Some people I have death dates for because I found an obituary, but I have no death certificate. Some people I have a birth date for because of a census record but I have no birth certificate. I'm  concentrating on my Queens-Brooklyn-Manhattan crew because city records are easier for me to get my hands on than Long Island records, but there are a lot of important corroborating records missing from my collection. And now that I have my list and can see the gaps, I can go about filling them in.

It's not the exciting work, but it's the necessary work...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - John Ricklefs, 1936

Not great quality, but a photo of John Ricklefs - looks like he might even be wearing glasses - from the Feb. 7, 1936 issue of The Hartford Courant, now aged 50 years, upon his return to Connecticut after serving about 13 years, 7 of those in solitary confinement, in prison in Massachusetts more words! :)