This Sunday -- May 19, 2013 -- 10 a.m. "The New Super DNA Tests"
Albert Einstein Residence Center, 1935 Wright Street, Sacramento
Longtime genealogist Jim Rader returns to show us how the new DNA tests can help us learn where our ancestors lived before they had surnames. These tests provide information about a more historic time period that's covered by the science of anthropology.
Jim Rader has been a civil engineer, computer programmer and adult education insturctor. He's been lecturing about genealogy since 1991 and published his first family history book in 1992. His genealogy pursuits include coordinating the Rader family surname study at Family Tree DNA and researching all the Rader families in the world.
A guide to living thrifty with Amanda L. Grossman
Free Genealogy Resources
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
As mentioned previously, I have been working on a genealogical project with my Hungarian grandmother since the fall of last year. To say that this project has been a satisfying, worthy undertaking of my time is a vast understatement. Not only have we produced a family heirloom to pass down for generations to come, but several pieces of interesting information has surfaced that never would have without the proper research. On top of all of this, I got to spend a significant amount of time with my grandmother as we had discussions, sifted through photographs and records, and cooked a few recipes over Easter.
The great news for anyone interested in genealogy is that while it can be an expensive hobby, it actually doesn’t need to be. There are a huge number of free resources available to you online as well as in person. I’d like to take the time to share some of these free resources with you, as well as a few tidbits from my own research.
Family Members and a Friend I Met Along the Way
Once I chose to pursue the Hungarian side of my family tree, the first stop on my journey—truly the most important one—was my grandmother. She is literally the only living link between me and our ancestors. The key information that I received from my grandmother included the following:
· Her last name Adorjan was changed to Adorian because people in the US could not pronounce it
· She found a letter from the 1950s/60s addressed to János Supek (a relative) in Marczaltő, Veszprém, Hungary
· János is Hungarian for John
· She gave me her mother/father’s names/birth dates/death dates, and her mother’s father and mother’s mother names/birth dates/date of citizenship/approximate date they arrived
· She let me know that her maternal side of the family was Catholic
In an event that cannot be brushed aside as mere coincidence, I met a woman named Agnes at a financial conference I attended in February. This is the same name as my grandmother, so I approached her and asked if she was Hungarian. It turns out that not only is she Hungarian, but she is first generation and still speaks the language! She offered to translate anything that we needed, as well as mentioned that I would have to get an old map of Hungary for my project. I had never really thought much about this, but Hungary has had quite the history. There was the Kingdom of Hungary, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and various border changes that at times included parts of Austria, Croatia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and Serbia / Yugoslavia.
Free US Record Resources
Records that you may stumble upon as primary resources include deeds, vitals (birth/death/marriage), census, tax records, military records, wills, court records, ship passenger lists, etc. The following is a list of several free websites to start your research for these types of records, all of which I have visited in my own research:
· USGenweb: This website is all about “keeping internet genealogy free.” Volunteers keep up the state and county pages, so each one will look unique.
· Ellis Island Ship Passenger Lists: Ellis Island operated between 1892 and 1954, so if your ancestors potentially entered the country during these years then you should conduct a free search. Remember that there were also ports of entries in Galveston and in Canada.
Free Global Resources
Finding information in the US through Census, passenger ship records, etc. was not too difficult once I knew where to look. However, I had no clue as to where to look for Hungarian records. Here are a few free resources to get you started on your global genealogical research:
· RootsWeb: This website offers individual guides for genealogical research in various countries.
· Cyndi’s List: While Cyndi’s List provides numerous links to US genealogical information, it also provides links to worldwide censuses. For Hungary, I was able to find a census from 1869!
· FamilySearch.org: The LDS Church operates the largest genealogy organization in the world. Here you can gain free access to digital images, as well as to the card catalogue of the Family History Library in Salt Lake Utah. This Library houses genealogical records for over 110 countries, territories, and possessions.
Free Forms and Software
All of this information has to be organized or categorized in some way; otherwise you might drive yourself crazy. These are some free forms and software to help you with that process:
· Census Extraction Form: These forms help you to see the format and column headings for various census years.
A Case Study in Preponderance of the Evidence
While I was not able to confirm some of the more colorful stories of our past—an opera singer who dropped dead while singing on stage, a woman on her wedding day dressed in white with a severe toothache who had to be taken to the dentist and died on his chair, etc.—I did have what I consider to be “big wins” as far as research goes.
Maria Supek’s sister’s (Nancy Ellis) funeral newspaper article said that she was born in Budapest, Hungary and immigrated to the United States at the age of 15. The newspaper article also said that her parents were Mr. and Mrs. John Supek. From this, you would gather that Maria, my great-great-grandmother, was probably born in Budapest as well. But I dug deeper.
My grandmother found a letter that her mother had written to relatives in the 1950s. She said that her mother always sent them letters, but that one day a letter was returned. After that, any letter she sent was returned. The letter was addressed to János Supek in Marczaltő, Veszprém. I was able to find online that the county of Marczaltő is Veszprém, and that Marczaltő is a town.
From talking with my grandmother, I knew that Maria Supek was Catholic. From her funeral announcement that my grandmother found in a shoe box, I now knew that her birthday was September 24, 1891. Miraculously (the starting point was the free ProGenealogists website), I tracked down “Hungary Catholic Church Records, 1636-1895” as well as Roman Catholic Parish of Marczaltő, Veszprém Megye, Hungary Baptismal Records. There were several Maria Supeks in this town who were baptized around the same time. Fortunately, I had all of this other information (including her father’s name of John/ János), and was able to find her particular baptismal record. Her baptism was on September 24, 1891, the day she was born. But better than that, I was able to confirm that she was born in Marczaltő, Veszprém, Hungary and not Budapest. Also, the baptismal record gave me her parents’ names…a full generation back of information! This was a great treasure hunt with a happy ending.
Pictured from to bottom: Great-great-grandmother Maria Supek; Great-Grandmother Agnes Adorian (Adorjan), Grandmother Agnes, and my mother Deborah
There are hundreds and thousands of other free resources to try out online. However, I don’t want to overwhelm you in what can be a very overwhelming task. Good luck to you, and I would love to hear about websites where you have had your own success!
The Online Genealogy Handbook, Brad and Debra Schepp, 2008
Director of Franklin County, Ala., archives uses hangers to search for grave sites
- By BERNIE DELINISKI TimesDaily May 11, 2013 - 11:47 am EDT
RUSSELLVILLE, Alabama — Chris Ozbirn stood directly over a gravestone with her hands loosely gripping two straightened-out metal clothes hangers.
Ozbirn, director of the Franklin County Archives, has used the hangers many times after she has straightened them, removed their hook and bent them about 90 degrees at one end to serve as a handle.
With that, the hanger was ready for Ozbirn's work. Standing alongside a grave, she held the hangers parallel to each other over the grave and the hangers came together, forming an "X." Ozbirn then walked the length of the grave. After walking for several feet, the hangers again moved to where they were parallel to each other.
"You can tell if it's an adult grave by walking the length of it," she said. "It comes back out straight after you come to the end of the grave. If it had done so after a shorter distance, I would have known it's a child's grave. The average adult's grave is 93 inches long."
Ozbirn said no one is certain why the hangers cross each other over a body, but that oddity has served as a valuable tool in searching for grave sites.
"There are so many unmarked graves, and this tells us that someone is buried at a location," she said.
There's an additional twist to the phenomenon: When the hangers are positioned over the head or foot of a grave, they move left if a female is buried there and right if it's a male.
As director of the archives, Ozbirn often helps descendants search cemeteries to find or verify burial locations of their ancestors.
Along the way, Ozbirn learned the hanger trick. One day in 2006, two women from Texas came into the archives office and told her they were conducting family research.
In this April 12, 2013 photo, Chris Ozbirn, with the Franklin County Archives in Russellville, Ala. talks about her use of divining rods to tell whether a person buried in a grave is male or female in a local cemetery. (AP Photo/TimesDaily,Matt McKean)
They all drove to a cemetery. Ozbirn told the women she knew approximately the location of their ancestor's grave, but the grave did not have a headstone.
"They said that's not a problem, and they went to the car and got a coat hanger," she said.
The women brought out a pair of straightened hangers and walked along the area. Soon, the hangers crossed, indicating the grave's location while Ozbirn looked on in astonishment. She asked about the hangers.
"They said they're just ordinary coat hangers, and they cut the hook and bent them for a handle," Ozbirn said. "I said, 'yeah, right,' and she said, "I promise it works every time.' "
Ozbirn tried it and discovered it worked. She said she has researched grave dowsing, as it's called, online and read theories about physical elements of a corpse's body playing a role in the phenomenon, but she does not know the validity of the theories.
"Whenever I show this to somebody, I make them do it, too, so they'll know it's not just something that this crazy red-headed woman came up with," Ozbirn joked.
She said there are practical purposes for using the dowsing method. For example, she has come across cases in which a descendent knew that a husband and wife were buried side by side at a specific location of an unmarked grave or worn grave marker, but didn't know which grave was the husband and which was the wife.
Dowsing allowed Ozbirn to identify the gender so they could properly mark the graves.
Ozbirn takes genealogy and history seriously and said dowsing plays another important role, in that it attracts others to genealogy.
"People really get involved when you show them this," she said. "It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen and I've been doing genealogy for 27 years. Anytime you can get somebody interested in genealogy, it's a great thing."
See you Sunday morning!