Some Random Acts of Kindness

If there were an award for “Worst Genealogy Lookup Volunteer,” I’m sure I’d be the winner, hands down! With all my computer/Internet problems this spring, coupled with a busy life, I haven’t been able to keep up with my lookup requests until recently. Yet I can’t blame everything on my busy life; I have a tendency to overcommit, and I’m learning (the hard way) to say no. When a distant cousin on my husband’s side asked me if I could build her another website to promote her newest book, I had to turn her down, since I haven’t even been able to stay on top of a site I’m currently working on!

All that said, last February, I posted a series on “Random Acts of Kindess” Week, and encouraged my fellow genea-bloggers to post about their contributions. I wanted to report to my readers what I’ve done, not as a “break-my-arm-in-patting-myself-on-the-back” way, but to give an idea of what giving back to the genealogical community entails. I have been the recipient of so many kindesses, that of course, I want to pay it forward. Perhaps in reading this, others will be inspired to do the same.

First of all, I made a couple of small financial contributions to a couple of favorite genealogy-related websites, because I believe in what they are doing to help out the genealogy community. When I’ve had to make non-genealogy online purchases recently, I’ve tried to do them through my fellow genea-bloggers’ affiliate stores. I’ve also tried to remember to click on their various advertisements, although many times, I read blog posts through my Google Reader instead of at the actual blog site.

Secondly, I took some training from Carol Nettles, the volunteer coordinator at the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society. EWGS is creating an index of the Patchen file that will eventually be put on our website. The Patchen file was begun 50 years ago by Lee Patchen, who worked for 20 years, clipping out obituaries from Spokane newspapers and pasting them onto index cards, which were filed in dozens of those old fashioned card catalog drawers. A number of us are adding data from these obits to an Excel file which will eventually allow anyone with Internet access to lookup their ancestor and request a copy of the obituary. So far, I’m about 2/3 of the way through a drawer. I’m a pretty fast typist (keyboardist?) and yet it’s taken me about 4 hours to index about one foot of cards (some prep work is involved; there are references to published works mixed in with the obits)! While I have no ancestors buried in this area, I feel this is a great payback to the genealogical community, especially since I’ve used the wonderful results of such work at the Western Michigan Genealogical Society’s databases!

Next, I’ve taken some random photos of graves at Greenwood Memorial Terrace here in Spokane, and using the Washington State Death Index online at FamilySearch Labs, I’ve slowly been adding memorial pages to Find A Grave for these individuals. Graves that have caught my eye include Civil War veterans’ and the many graves in the old part of the cemetery, which for some reason, is not kept up like the main part. It is very rural-looking, no grass, lots of trees and bushes, and has an old-fashioned feel to it.

Lastly, I’ve had 11 lookup requests since March 27th, most of which I’ve fulfilled. Two requested death and cemetery records for Muskegon Co., Michigan (I have access to these on microfilm at my local Family History Center). One of those requests occurred before FamilySearch Labs added images of Michigan Death records from 1867 – 1897 to their site. One of the requests was for a death after the early 1910s, which were not microfilmed, so I gave the requestor the link to the online Muskegon County Death Index and recommended if she found the death listed there, to purchase the record through the county clerk’s office, rather than the state department of vital statistics (it’s cheaper through the county).

Another individual e-mailed me to ask if I had access to all Michigan marriage records (such as a state index) or just Muskegon County Marriages. I wrote back to tell her it was only the county records. However, just today I wrote again to inform her that Michigan Marriages, 1867 – 1925, are now at the FamilySearch Labs site.

There was a request for four lookups for family members in Greenwood Cemetery in Walker Twp., Kent Co., Michigan. I could not find three that died in 1896 in the index; the death in 1870 occurred before the records were kept (and I believe when the cemetery opened) in 1880. I recommended a local researcher in Kent County who is inexpensive, professional, and thorough, and whom I’ve used on occasion with excellent results.

Three requests, one through RAOGK and another through Books We Own, asked for burial information at Park Hill Cemetery in Vancouver, Clark Co., Washington. I used to own the burial books for this cemetery, as a large number of my husband’s ancestors and relatives are buried there. However, I donated the books to my genie society’s upcoming book auction, because the listings are now online. However, I keep my volunteer information available at these websites for this cemetery, because there are many people who are unaware that the burial records are online. I was happy to pass this information on to the three requestors.

I’ve had three requests for lookups in the microfilmed 1899 City Directory of Washington, DC, which happens to be one of many items on a microfilm that contains Muskegon County, Michigan records. I’ve fulfilled two of these requests. There is also an unfulfilled request for lookups in the microfilmed Grand Rapids City Directory in the 1860s and 1870s. All of these films are those I’ve put on permanent loan at my local Family History Center.

Speaking of lookups, Genlighten will soon open has recently opened its website as a place where individuals can connect with low-cost volunteer researchers. Dean Richardson, who Randy mentioned at the Jamboree, has also started a blog for the site. Given my terrible record for looking up records in such an untimely manner, I’ve not signed up as a researcher, although I am considering it (must finish other commitments, first). I see that DearMYRTLE endorses the site, and I think this will become a wonderful resource for our genealogical community. UPDATE: Dean posted some clarifications and corrections in the comments section of this post. Please take a moment to read these!

I’ve wanted to do more FamilySearch Indexing, but other commitments, time contraints and my laptop not working well have created challenges in this department.

How am I doing? Not too badly, I hope–except for taking so very long to fulfill lookup requests. I’d like to read posts from other genea-bloggers on their contributions, too, so if you have some, please add your post links to my comments section. Also, be sure to read Renee’s Genealogy Blog as she writes about her adventures in FamilySearch Indexing.

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Some Random Acts of Kindness

If there were an award for “Worst Genealogy Lookup Volunteer,” I’m sure I’d be the winner, hands down! With all my computer/Internet problems this spring, coupled with a busy life, I haven’t been able to keep up with my lookup requests until recently. Yet I can’t blame everything on my busy life; I have a tendency to overcommit, and I’m learning (the hard way) to say no. When a distant cousin on my husband’s side asked me if I could build her another website to promote her newest book, I had to turn her down, since I haven’t even been able to stay on top of a site I’m currently working on!

All that said, last February, I posted a series on “Random Acts of Kindess” Week, and encouraged my fellow genea-bloggers to post about their contributions. I wanted to report to my readers what I’ve done, not as a “break-my-arm-in-patting-myself-on-the-back” way, but to give an idea of what giving back to the genealogical community entails. I have been the recipient of so many kindesses, that of course, I want to pay it forward. Perhaps in reading this, others will be inspired to do the same.

First of all, I made a couple of small financial contributions to a couple of favorite genealogy-related websites, because I believe in what they are doing to help out the genealogy community. When I’ve had to make non-genealogy online purchases recently, I’ve tried to do them through my fellow genea-bloggers’ affiliate stores. I’ve also tried to remember to click on their various advertisements, although many times, I read blog posts through my Google Reader instead of at the actual blog site.

Secondly, I took some training from Carol Nettles, the volunteer coordinator at the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society. EWGS is creating an index of the Patchen file that will eventually be put on our website. The Patchen file was begun 50 years ago by Lee Patchen, who worked for 20 years, clipping out obituaries from Spokane newspapers and pasting them onto index cards, which were filed in dozens of those old fashioned card catalog drawers. A number of us are adding data from these obits to an Excel file which will eventually allow anyone with Internet access to lookup their ancestor and request a copy of the obituary. So far, I’m about 2/3 of the way through a drawer. I’m a pretty fast typist (keyboardist?) and yet it’s taken me about 4 hours to index about one foot of cards (some prep work is involved; there are references to published works mixed in with the obits)! While I have no ancestors buried in this area, I feel this is a great payback to the genealogical community, especially since I’ve used the wonderful results of such work at the Western Michigan Genealogical Society’s databases!

Next, I’ve taken some random photos of graves at Greenwood Memorial Terrace here in Spokane, and using the Washington State Death Index online at FamilySearch Labs, I’ve slowly been adding memorial pages to Find A Grave for these individuals. Graves that have caught my eye include Civil War veterans’ and the many graves in the old part of the cemetery, which for some reason, is not kept up like the main part. It is very rural-looking, no grass, lots of trees and bushes, and has an old-fashioned feel to it.

Lastly, I’ve had 11 lookup requests since March 27th, most of which I’ve fulfilled. Two requested death and cemetery records for Muskegon Co., Michigan (I have access to these on microfilm at my local Family History Center). One of those requests occurred before FamilySearch Labs added images of Michigan Death records from 1867 – 1897 to their site. One of the requests was for a death after the early 1910s, which were not microfilmed, so I gave the requestor the link to the online Muskegon County Death Index and recommended if she found the death listed there, to purchase the record through the county clerk’s office, rather than the state department of vital statistics (it’s cheaper through the county).

Another individual e-mailed me to ask if I had access to all Michigan marriage records (such as a state index) or just Muskegon County Marriages. I wrote back to tell her it was only the county records. However, just today I wrote again to inform her that Michigan Marriages, 1867 – 1925, are now at the FamilySearch Labs site.

There was a request for four lookups for family members in Greenwood Cemetery in Walker Twp., Kent Co., Michigan. I could not find three that died in 1896 in the index; the death in 1870 occurred before the records were kept (and I believe when the cemetery opened) in 1880. I recommended a local researcher in Kent County who is inexpensive, professional, and thorough, and whom I’ve used on occasion with excellent results.

Three requests, one through RAOGK and another through Books We Own, asked for burial information at Park Hill Cemetery in Vancouver, Clark Co., Washington. I used to own the burial books for this cemetery, as a large number of my husband’s ancestors and relatives are buried there. However, I donated the books to my genie society’s upcoming book auction, because the listings are now online. However, I keep my volunteer information available at these websites for this cemetery, because there are many people who are unaware that the burial records are online. I was happy to pass this information on to the three requestors.

I’ve had three requests for lookups in the microfilmed 1899 City Directory of Washington, DC, which happens to be one of many items on a microfilm that contains Muskegon County, Michigan records. I’ve fulfilled two of these requests. There is also an unfulfilled request for lookups in the microfilmed Grand Rapids City Directory in the 1860s and 1870s. All of these films are those I’ve put on permanent loan at my local Family History Center.

Speaking of lookups, Genlighten will soon open has recently opened its website as a place where individuals can connect with low-cost volunteer researchers. Dean Richardson, who Randy mentioned at the Jamboree, has also started a blog for the site. Given my terrible record for looking up records in such an untimely manner, I’ve not signed up as a researcher, although I am considering it (must finish other commitments, first). I see that DearMYRTLE endorses the site, and I think this will become a wonderful resource for our genealogical community. UPDATE: Dean posted some clarifications and corrections in the comments section of this post. Please take a moment to read these!

I’ve wanted to do more FamilySearch Indexing, but other commitments, time contraints and my laptop not working well have created challenges in this department.

How am I doing? Not too badly, I hope–except for taking so very long to fulfill lookup requests. I’d like to read posts from other genea-bloggers on their contributions, too, so if you have some, please add your post links to my comments section. Also, be sure to read Renee’s Genealogy Blog as she writes about her adventures in FamilySearch Indexing.

This and That

Reading through my e-mail this morning, I came across these little snippets of interesting items to share with my readers:

  • *The Dowagiac [Michigan] Daily News has a fascinating article about Verge Hawkins, who is lecturing on African-American history at the Museum at Southwestern Michigan College’s spring lecture series. He encourages families to study genealogy together “because if you have different generations, they can focus on some things and tell their story. When you tell your own story, you’re a much stronger person.”
  • *”Today Michigan lawmakers will begin contemplating one of the most heated questions within the adoption community — should upwards of 20,000 people be allowed to access family information that has been kept secret for decades? Bills in both chambers of the Legislature would allow people adopted between 1945 and 1980 to obtain their original birth certificate. It also would allow birth parents to tell the state whether they want to be contacted, and how. A hearing on the matter will be held today before the House Families and Children’s Services subcommittee.” My paternal grandmother was one of the “lucky” adoptees whose adoption was finalized in 1940 (when she was 16), so she was able to access her own birth certificate. Thousands of Michigan adoptees have never had that chance. Read more here.
  • *From Cyndi’s List Mailing List, a website where you can do an Irish placename search, Irish Ancestries.com. The placename finder is on this page.
  • *Looking for Michigan newspapers that might carry obituaries online? This list appears to have current–not historical–papers, but some have archived obits, so check it out.
  • *From the Oakland County Mailing List at RootsWeb came this terrific news: “Later this year the State Library will be putting digitized death certificates for Michigan on its website. The years covered will be 1900-1910. Granted its not as much as some states but for Michigan that’s a major step!”

This and That

Reading through my e-mail this morning, I came across these little snippets of interesting items to share with my readers:

  • *The Dowagiac [Michigan] Daily News has a fascinating article about Verge Hawkins, who is lecturing on African-American history at the Museum at Southwestern Michigan College’s spring lecture series. He encourages families to study genealogy together “because if you have different generations, they can focus on some things and tell their story. When you tell your own story, you’re a much stronger person.”
  • *”Today Michigan lawmakers will begin contemplating one of the most heated questions within the adoption community — should upwards of 20,000 people be allowed to access family information that has been kept secret for decades? Bills in both chambers of the Legislature would allow people adopted between 1945 and 1980 to obtain their original birth certificate. It also would allow birth parents to tell the state whether they want to be contacted, and how. A hearing on the matter will be held today before the House Families and Children’s Services subcommittee.” My paternal grandmother was one of the “lucky” adoptees whose adoption was finalized in 1940 (when she was 16), so she was able to access her own birth certificate. Thousands of Michigan adoptees have never had that chance. Read more here.
  • *From Cyndi’s List Mailing List, a website where you can do an Irish placename search, Irish Ancestries.com. The placename finder is on this page.
  • *Looking for Michigan newspapers that might carry obituaries online? This list appears to have current–not historical–papers, but some have archived obits, so check it out.
  • *From the Oakland County Mailing List at RootsWeb came this terrific news: “Later this year the State Library will be putting digitized death certificates for Michigan on its website. The years covered will be 1900-1910. Granted its not as much as some states but for Michigan that’s a major step!”

Evelyn Gladys (McKINNEY) LUDKE (1908 – 2008)

LUDKE, Evelyn Gladys
(Age 99)

Entered into rest on Friday, January 25, 2008. She was born on July 11, 1908 in Spokane, WA to Cora and I.E. (Mac) McKinney. Evelyn was raised with her brother and sister by her grandparents, Diedrich “Richard” and Mary Behrens on their farm in Rockford, WA. After graduating from North Central High School she worked as a beautician. In 1933 she married Harry Ludke. During her life she was involved in numerous clubs and organizations. Evelyn enjoyed being a member of the Phi Sigma Alpha National Fraternity, Gamma Chapter. She enjoyed reading, solving crossword puzzles, golfing and playing bridge. Evelyn also volunteered as an aid in hospitals. When she was in her fifties she graduated from Spokane Community College as a Licensed Practical Nurse. Then for a number of years she worked at St. Luke’s Hospital as a LPN. She is preceded in death by her husband of almost 70 years, Harry in 2003; son, Keith: brother, Harold McKinney; sisters, Michel (Mickey) Webb and Mercedes Loffer. She is survived by her son, Gary and his wife, Marlys of Spokane, WA; two granddaughters, Diane (Mike) Midkiff of Spokane and Nancy (Doug) Marks of Aberdeen, WA; seven great-grandchildren, Jennifer (Nathan) Fawbush, David, Rebekah and Kayla Midkiff, Kari, Ali and Chase Marks and one great-great-granddaughter, Evelyn Fawbush, who was named after her. Funeral services for Evelyn Ludke will be held on Tuesday, January 29, 2008, at 1:00 pm, at the Sunset Mausoleum Chapel at Fairmount Memorial Park. The Reverend Greg Carter will officiate. HAZEN AND JAEGER FUNERAL HOME, 1306 N. MONROE is in charge of arrangements.

Evelyn was the grandmother of my husband’s sister-in-law. When my future brother-in-law and his wife introduced me to Evelyn, she gave me a huge hug and told me, “Welcome to the family!” even though I was actually joining the Midkiff–not the Ludke–family. She attended our wedding, and for many years, she was present at the birthday celebrations of my husband’s nieces and nephew. I always enjoyed chatting with her. Having grown up in the Spokane area, she had a lot of stories to tell of local happenings in days gone by. I’ll miss her.

Evelyn Gladys (McKINNEY) LUDKE (1908 – 2008)

LUDKE, Evelyn Gladys
(Age 99)

Entered into rest on Friday, January 25, 2008. She was born on July 11, 1908 in Spokane, WA to Cora and I.E. (Mac) McKinney. Evelyn was raised with her brother and sister by her grandparents, Diedrich “Richard” and Mary Behrens on their farm in Rockford, WA. After graduating from North Central High School she worked as a beautician. In 1933 she married Harry Ludke. During her life she was involved in numerous clubs and organizations. Evelyn enjoyed being a member of the Phi Sigma Alpha National Fraternity, Gamma Chapter. She enjoyed reading, solving crossword puzzles, golfing and playing bridge. Evelyn also volunteered as an aid in hospitals. When she was in her fifties she graduated from Spokane Community College as a Licensed Practical Nurse. Then for a number of years she worked at St. Luke’s Hospital as a LPN. She is preceded in death by her husband of almost 70 years, Harry in 2003; son, Keith: brother, Harold McKinney; sisters, Michel (Mickey) Webb and Mercedes Loffer. She is survived by her son, Gary and his wife, Marlys of Spokane, WA; two granddaughters, Diane (Mike) Midkiff of Spokane and Nancy (Doug) Marks of Aberdeen, WA; seven great-grandchildren, Jennifer (Nathan) Fawbush, David, Rebekah and Kayla Midkiff, Kari, Ali and Chase Marks and one great-great-granddaughter, Evelyn Fawbush, who was named after her. Funeral services for Evelyn Ludke will be held on Tuesday, January 29, 2008, at 1:00 pm, at the Sunset Mausoleum Chapel at Fairmount Memorial Park. The Reverend Greg Carter will officiate. HAZEN AND JAEGER FUNERAL HOME, 1306 N. MONROE is in charge of arrangements.

Evelyn was the grandmother of my husband’s sister-in-law. When my future brother-in-law and his wife introduced me to Evelyn, she gave me a huge hug and told me, “Welcome to the family!” even though I was actually joining the Midkiff–not the Ludke–family. She attended our wedding, and for many years, she was present at the birthday celebrations of my husband’s nieces and nephew. I always enjoyed chatting with her. Having grown up in the Spokane area, she had a lot of stories to tell of local happenings in days gone by. I’ll miss her.

This and That

I backposted an advent memory, “The Christmas Tree,” as I start catching up on some of the posts I missed.

Did you know that T.K. of Before My Time was a cousin of mine? Neither did I, until I read this. She’s my 10th cousin, twice removed (she and my maternal grandmother are the same generation!). Randy is also my cousin; I discovered this last September when he was posting his ahnentafel reports. I suppose if you have any roots that go back to Massachusetts in the 1640s, we could figure out that you’re my cousin, too!

The grandmother of Tim of Genealogy Reviews Online recalled seeing the Statue of Liberty when she arrived in America, yet her ship landed in Philadelphia. Go here to find out how Tim’s amazing discovery at Google Book Search helped him confirm his family’s oral history.

Kevin explains how mold has destroyed the entire contents of a Michigan library in the small community where my 3rd-great-grandparents, Sylvester Fredenburg and Cornelia McClellan, were married. How tragic!

What genealogist doesn’t love books? Kimbooktu shares a video on an exhibit of some of the world’s tiniest tomes.

Want to know the latest news in your ancestral locations? Go here to locate a newspaper from your ancestor’s residence, then check out the paper’s website to see if they have a blog you can add to your newsreader. I’ve been keeping an eye on the blogs of The Grand Rapids Press and The Muskegon Chronicle of Western Michigan. That’s how I discovered this story. Refdesk is also how I look for obituaries for recently deceased relatives from out of state.