December 17, 2014

Merry Cemetery Displays ‘Dirty Little Secrets’ of the Dead

The "Merry Cemetery" Sapanta, Romania. Image credit: "Merry Cemetery - Sapanta - Romania 01”, by Adam Jones (Adam63). Wikimedia Commons image at- http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Merry_Cemetery_-_Sapanta_-_Romania_01.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Merry_Cemetery_-_Sapanta_-_Romania_01.jpg.

The “Merry Cemetery” Sapanta, Romania. Image credit: “Merry Cemetery – Sapanta – Romania 01”, by Adam Jones (Adam63). Wikimedia Commons image.

A gravestone creator in a small town in Romania took his mission seriously to memorialize the dead. But he did in, er, “living color,” so to speak. With plenty of colorful images and even dirty little secrets and gossip carved onto tombstones of the local residents at the “Merry Cemetery.”

As reported in the New York Daily News,  the woodcarver responsible for over 1000 gravestones in the “Merry Cemetery” would wander through town, taking notes on people’s quirks and secrets. Some flaws–drinking and carousing among them–are memorialized colorfully on their tombstones. On other stones, you’ll find his sad laments for the untimely passing of a child or the death of an adult by  a sad accident.

“There’s no point in hiding secrets in this small town in Maramures, so people’s lives are captured honestly in their epitaphs,” reports the article.

The woodcarver was Stan Ion Patras, who lived from 1908-1977. Conscious of the legacy he was leaving–and perhaps anxious to tell his own story rather than have someone else do it–Patras carved his own tombstone before he passed away. He trained his replacement, who continues to add to the brightly colored crosses.

Here’s another detail I thought was neat: Patras’ folk art was highly symbolic. According to a New York Times article on the cemetery, “The portrait of the deceased is central, surrounded by geometric designs in symbolic colors: yellow for fertility, red for passion, green for life, black for untimely death. The color scheme is keyed to the subject’s life — if, for example, the deceased had many children, yellow carries the design. Some crosses are crowned with white doves representing the soul; a black bird implies a tragic or suspicious end. The background is always blue, the color of hope and freedom.”

What’s the most fascinating cemetery you’ve ever visited? What’s the most memorable epitaph you’ve ever found? Share it on our Genealogy Gems Facebook page!

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Inspiring Ideas in Genealogy Gems Podcast 173

Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family History“We all need a little inspiration now and then!”

That’s Lisa’s theme for the recently-released FREE Genealogy Gems podcast episode 173 (click here for the podcast in iTunes, and here for how to our app). Here are the highlights:

  • Lisa talks about creating family history ambiance in her new home office. The podcast episode page includes a picture of her new heritage display. (I love the vintage cameras and family photos.)
  • Catch Diahan Southard chatting about exciting updates to autosomal DNA research at AncestryDNA.com.
  • We hear from a listener with an inspiring story about using MyHeritage.com. If you still mentally categorize MyHeritage as “best for non-US only” research, check out this story of discovering a Civil War casualty in her family through MyHeritage. (Did you catch our recent post about the new institutional MyHeritage access at FamilySearch Centers?)
  • genealogy book club genealogy gemsLisa and I chat about the fantastic response we’re hearing to the launch of the NEW Genealogy Gems Book Club and some additional reading suggestions from listeners. Click here to read about books recommended by two of YOU.
  • Finally, catch our link to a story about a couple who is celebrating 80 years of marriage. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is!

Finally, in this episode Lisa also catches us up on some exciting news: a digital WWI archive on Europeana; newly-available German records the 1865 New York (US) state census online; and plans to digitize important Indiana records. Catch up on all the great news and get inspired in Genealogy Gems podcast 173!

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Google Earth for Genealogy: Get My Personalized Help

I often wish I had the opportunity to work with each one of you on your individual Google Earth projects, because I firmly believe it’s one of the most exciting ways to tell your family history stories, and to analyze your research data.

So when Family Tree University invited me be your guide to mastering the genealogical benefits of this free software for a special one week workshop, I couldn’t resist. I’ve cleared my calendar for the week of November 17, and I’m all yours!

In this workshop we’re going to cover how to tap into Google Earth’s robust features to bring depth and a new perspective to your family history research, as well as create projects that enhance your genealogy with a “wow!” factor.

ge workshop

Seats are limited and will go fast. 

Nov. 17-24, 2014 Online Workshop

Register Here

You’ll have the opportunity to participate in message board discussions with me and your fellow students over the course of the week, plus create your own Google Earth project to showcase your genealogical research.
 
Here what you’ll get:

Consultations with me in the Message Forum. This is your chance to ask questions and receive my feedback personalized to your Google Earth projectsVideo classes: Genealogy Projects With Google Earth and Best Websites for Finding Historical MapsFive step-by-step lessons from the course Google Earth for Genealogists in PDF format

Lesson from the Finding Your Ancestral Village course on locating your ancestral town

Unlimited viewing: Your all-access pass gets you into the workshop all week-you can even download the videos to watch again later.

I can’t wait to see what you will create!

Google Earth for Genealogy Workshop

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What are the Politics of Your Family Tree?

stick_figure_ballot_box_400_wht_9471Here’s a fun online tool that points toward the political leanings of current U.S. residents with your surnames: What’s in a Name?

For example, when I enter my maternal grandfather’s surname, Felix, I find that this surname overwhelming votes Democrat (77%). My father’s surname, McClellan, is evenly split. There’s a cool (but slightly confusing) map that breaks down results by state. Of course I looked at the state breakdowns where my family lives now and in their ancestral home states!

Do  political leanings really run in a family? Here’s an interesting article about familial voting patterns (again for the U.S.). Based on your surname results and what you know about your family, would this be a FUN family history conversation to introduce at your next family reunion would it open a can of worms?

Just remember, this isn’t a historical picture of your surname but predicted figures for the next big election. Not everyone with your surname is a relative, and that you likely have lot of relatives from that same surname line who wouldn’t be included because their surnames have changed. There’s also no explanation on this page of where they get their raw numbers or how they calculate their answers. You’d want to check the supporting organizations for party or other bias. So this is JUST for fun! But think about it–what resources would you use to research the politics of your family tree? Obituaries? Newspapers? Interviews with older relatives? Even naming patterns? My husband’s grandfather is named Franklin Delano–I wonder who his parents voted for….

 

 

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How to Transfer Google Earth Files from One Computer to Another

google earth genealogyGenealogy Gems reader and listener Walt has enjoyed creating some exciting family history and genealogy maps and files in Google Earth using the strategies I teach here at Genealogy Gems. He wrote me recently to say that he is thrilled to have a new computer, but he is now faced with how to transfer Google Earth files he created for family history from his old computer to his shiny new one. The good news is that it’s not difficult at all!

 

How to transfer your Google Earth files:google earth save files

1. On your old computer open Google Earth

2. All of your files in Google Earth are in the Places panel. In the Places panel, click the small arrow pointing at “My Places” to close it

3. Right-click on MyPlaces and select “Save Place As” from the little pop up menu

4. Name the file OLD GOOGLE EARTH and select where you want to save it on your hard drive. (Saving it to your Desktop will make it easy to find, or just your C: drive.  If you use Dropbox, you could save it there and then easily access it from Dropbox on your new computer.)
click “Save”

5. Send an email to yourself and attached the save .KMZ file that you just created.

6. Open the email on your new computer
(make sure you already have Google Earth downloaded on to your new computer)

7. Double click the attached KMZ file to open it

8. Your computer will detect it is a Google Earth file and will open it in Google Earth.

9. The file will be stored in the Places panel under Temporary Places
Click, drag and drop the file from Temporary to MyPlaces
Under the menu click FILE > SAVE > SAVE MY PLACES to save it.

google earth for genealogy and family historyWant to learn more about using maps in Google earth for your family history research? Watch my FREE class on Google Earth for Genealogy. And we have a 2 disk video tutorial bundle in our store that will walk you through exciting projects step by step.

Genealogy Gems Premium members can also watch my NEW video class online, 5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps. (Not a Premium member? Learn more here.)

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The Google Search Operator That Got Away

One of my favorite Google Search Operators is the Tilde (`) which is Google lingo means Synonym. In the past you could add~genealogy to your searches and Google would look for ‘genealogy’, ‘family history’, ‘ancestry’ etc. Unfortunately, it is no more.

Google Search Operator Tilde synonym

Google explained the decision to do away with synonym search this way: “Why? Because too few people were using it to make it worth the time, money, and energy to maintain…Maintaining ALL of the synonyms takes real time and costs us real money. Supporting this operator also increases the complexity of the code base.”

So now, more than ever, it’s important to choose your keywords wisely and think like the person who may be posting information you are looking for. You may think train history, but experts on the subject may be using railroad or locomotive as they write on their website. The good news is you can include all the options in your search query.

Recommended Viewing:
Genealogy Gems Premium Video: Ultimate Google Search Strategies

Recommended Reading:
Things may change online, 
but Genealogy Gems will never change: 
We’re here to help!
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Cruise the Caribbean with Me! Legacy Genealogy Cruise 2015

Genealogy CruiseWant to cruise the Caribbean in style with me–while learning smart strategies for family history research?

I’m pleased to announce I’ll be the featured speaker at the 12th annual Legacy Genealogy Cruise. We embark on June 20, 2015 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA and will visit Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico on the luxurious Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Sea ship.

During the seven-day cruise, I will teach seminars focused on getting quality genealogical results, quickly. You’ll receive loads of strategies and tips you can start using right away, from high-tech solutions to busting brick walls. I will join Legacy Family Tree’s Geoff Rasmussen and others who will offer classes on Legacy and other genealogy technology.

Click here more information or to register! You can also call their travel coordinator, Christy, at 1-800-557-8601 or send an email to LegacyFamilyTreeCruise@gmail.com.

See you on board!

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Historical Norwegian Maps Online: Great Genealogy Resource!

norway_flag_perspective_anim_500_wht_3647Recently we heard from Gordon in Billings, Montana, U.S.A, who passed on news about historical Norwegian maps online now at their National Map Works. He says:

“I have been enjoying your podcasts for a couple of years now, so I though I would pass on a piece of information that some of your listeners might want to hear about.

I don’t know how many of them do research in Norway like I do but I suspect that most of the ones that do, do not make a habit of reading the Norwegian newspapers. Since my wife was born in Norway, we do read her hometown paper on a regular basis. Just yesterday, that paper, Bergens Tidende, had an article reporting that the “Statens Kartverk” (the National Map Works) has recently digitized and posted on-line 8000 historical maps of Norway. (Click here for the article.)

Unfortunately, the website for the maps has not put a link in their English section yet, but there isn’t much to read beyond place names on the maps anyway. You can view the maps here.

Just choose a county, click the green button, and see a wonderful collection of maps for anyone with ancestors from Norway.”

Thanks for the tip, Gordon! I’ll add this tip of my own: Open the website in Chrome and Chrome will automatically offer to translate the website. Simply click the Translate button, like you’ll see below:

norwegian maps

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What I Believe We Must Do as Family Historians Today

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Santayana in The Life of Reason, 1905

One of the most important jobs we will have as family historians is passing on to the next generation our memories of September 11, 2001.

I’ll never forget my daughter Lacey calling me from the top of the stairs on that morning. She was listening to the radio as she prepared for school. “Mom,” she said, “I think you better turn on the TV. Something is happening.”

And like so many in America and around the world, I turned on the TV only to be glued to it into the wee hours of that night, devastated by the evil appearing on the screen.

The quote at the beginning of this article is often mistakenly attributed to Winston Churchill, but in fact, his statement to the House of Commons on May 2, 1935 after the Stresa Conference was even more thorough and extremely compelling:

SNAG_Program-0286

“When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong-these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”

Learning from history and passing it on is key to our survival, as families, and as freedom-loving countries.

On this September 11 let’s pull our children and grandchildren close and be brave enough to share the reality of our experience. We, and future generations, need to remember.

God Bless America,
Lisa

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Family History Episode 43: The Julian Calendar and Genealogy

Family History Genealogy Made Easy PodcastFamily History: Genealogy Made Easy

with Lisa Louise Cooke

Republished 2014

Download the Show Notes for this Episode

Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008-09. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.

Episode 43: The Julian Calendar and Genealogy “Double-Dating”

If you’re not familiar with how the calendar has changed through history, you might be recording incorrect dates in your family tree!  In this episode, Margery Bell, Assistant Director of the Regional Family History Center in Oakland, California helps us understand the “double-dating” we see in old documents and translate those dates from the Julian calendar to today’s Gregorian system.

The Julian Calendar

In 1582, the Roman Catholic Pope Gregory learned that gradually the vernal equinox wasn’t coming on the “right day.” At the time, the first day of the new year was March 25. This explains why the name of September (“sept”=seven) translates as “the seventh month: and October (“oct”=eight) as the eighth month, etc.

So in 1582, the calendar changed in the four countries under papal authority: Spain, Portugal, Italy and the Polish-Lithuanian state. Gradually over time, everyone else adapted to what became called the “Gregorian calendar,” and is what we use now. But you might be surprised how long the Julian calendar was still used in some places: Greece held out until 1923.

Great Britain changed over to the Gregorian calendar is 1752—and so did its colonies. But here in the North American colonies we were affected by the change long before because we had people here from so many nations in which either calendar might be used.

The solution in U.S. colonial record-keeping was “double-dating.” Maybe you’ve seen a date that reads “3 February 1685/6.” That means it was 1685 by the old Julian calendar and 1686 according to the Gregorian calendar. You’ll see this double-dating used between January 1 -March 25, when the time frame overlapped. You might also see a single date with the abbreviation “o.s.” or “n.s” for “old style” or “new style,” or you might see those words written out. If it’s written in the new calendar style, of course, you don’t have to translate the date.

Why does it matter to a genealogist which style is used? If you don’t translate the date correctly, you’ll get confused about timing. The change from one calendar to the next involved dropping several days from the calendar in 1752, then renumbering the months. March was the first month of 1725, for example, and January 1725 actually came after it—that was the eleventh month! It will look like people have their will probated before they died, or they had a baby before they got married.

Top tips from Margery Bell:

  • If you don’t see double-dating in a colonial document before 1752, assume you’re on the old calendar. See a sample at George Washington family bible with birthdate. (Listen to the podcast to see how his birthday as celebrated today was translated out of that calendar.)
  • Some vital or church records may be written as “the second day of the third month.” If they were following the old calendar, we will “translate” that date incorrectly if we don’t know better. Go back and double-check the sources for your older dates. That includes making sure that any dates you copied from an index (if you couldn’t get to the original record) were indexed accurately.
  • FamilySearch has a lot of data from the IGI, the International Genealogy Index. These older records include a LOT of Julian calendar items but the IGI doesn’t indicate whether that’s true. If you see two different marriage records for the same couple married on two separate dates, translate them and see if one is perhaps the adjusted date and the other didn’t get “translated.”

Genealogy Gems Mailbox

Mailbox question from Beginning GenealogistDon in Oklahoma writes in to ask about how to record the last names of women, and how those names affect Ancestry’s Family Trees to seek out corresponding genealogical records.

Women should be entered in family trees with their maiden names. Then they are linked to men they marry in family trees, and that’s how you can determine their married surname. I double-checked with the Ancestry Insider blogger about Ancestry searches. He says that Ancestry “shaky leaf” hints search on both a woman’s maiden name and all her husband’s surnames. Thanks for that extra tip, Ancestry Insider!

 

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