Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Where Do You Fit?

From Randy over at Genea-Musings:

It's Saturday Night again -- and time for more Genealogy Fun!!! 

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  Use the Population Counter on the BBC News website to determine your place in the current world population, and your place in all of history (of course, these are estimates...see the website for how they calculated this).  Enter your birth date into the fields and click on "Go."

2)  Tell us about your results in your own blog post, as a Comment on this blog post, or as a status line in Facebook or a Stream post on Google Plus.  For extra credit, show us the image from the website with your information on it.

Here's mine:

As you can see, the site states that when I was born, I was the 3, 470,690,467th person alive on Earth, and I was the 77,470,321,241st person to have lived since history began.

I entered the next day into the calculator and got 3,470,887,029 as the number person alive on Earth, subtracted the number I got and got the total of 196,562 persons were born on the day I was born.  It was a popular day!

Here is  my synopsis.  My favorite part is where is states the population has grown by 6,020 people while I've been on the site!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Grandma's Diary, Parts 41 and 42

(To read prior entries from my maternal grandmother's 1933 diary, please click on the tab "Posts by Topic" and then go to the topic "California." All posts are listed there.)


The writer is Ethel Ranney Tapley.
Alice is her sister.
Kenneth is her brother.
Her parents.
H = her boyfriend, Hazel Avery Plumlee
Delma = Hazel's little sister
Earl = Hazel's brother
Verda = Earl's wife
Dorothy Lee = Hazel's niece (Earl's child)
Otho is Otho Hesser, her father's cousin.
Viella is Otho's wife.
Ruth & Kathryn are Otho and Viella's daughters.
Uncle Jont is Jonathan Hesser, Otho's father and her father's uncle.
Aunt Kate is Sarah Katherine Hall Hesser, Jonathan's wife and Otho's mother
Herman (Williams) is Alice's husband.

Sunday, October 15:  "Hazel & I went up & saw Plumlees, Trowbridges, & Joe.  We went to the show in the evening."

Monday, October 16:  "Mama & I took Hazel to Pomona on his way to L.A.  We bought curtain material & paint to try & fix the shack."

Tuesday, October 17:  "I went to school.  I took the car.  Mama had lunch with Mrs. Ball.  Mrs. Dadson & Boskys' were here for peaches.  We made our curtains."

Wednesday, October 18:  "I went to school.  Mama went along & got her teeth cleaned.  We ironed in the evening."

Thursday, October 19:  "I went to school.  I had my teeth cleaned.  Mama & I went to Yucaipa for groceries."

Friday, October 20:  "I went to school.  Went to Luciles had lunch there.  D. Pence's were there.  Dad worked at Shultz's."

Saturday, October 21:  "Mama & I went to San Berdo. in the afternoon.  Dad is still working at Shultzs."

Sunday, October 22:  "Dad worked at Shultzs.  Found Hazel at Balls.  We went to Yucaipa in the afternoon.  Looked at City from Flag Hill {**See note below.} in the eve."

Monday, October 23:  "Joe took Hazel to L.A.  They took me to school on there way.  I sure hated to see Hazel go.  Mrs. Ball made us a visit in the eve."

Tuesday, October 24:  "I went to school.  Had a typing test - 37 with 3 errors.  Mama & I went to Yucaipa & Spottie acted terrible."
 Wednesday, October 25:  "I went to school.  Clara waved my hair; at Luciles.  I didn't get a letter from Hazel something must be wrong."
 Thursday, October 26:  "I went to school.  I sewed on my brown dress in the eve. & finished it."

Friday, October 27:  "I went to school.  Mama & I went to San Berdo. in the afternoon.  Stopped at Laura's in the afternoon.  We went to Trowbridges for a min. in the eve."

Saturday, October 28:  "Went to Yucaipa in the morning.  Alice & Herman came about noon.  Viella came in the eve. for a little while."

**Flag Hill is now Flag Hill Veterans Memorial Park.  From the City of Yucaipa website:

"Flag Hill Veterans Memorial Park is located at the corner of Yucaipa Boulevard and Fremont Street. This park lends a panoramic view of the Yucaipa Valley. 

Located at this park are a large number and variety of trees that have been donated in memory of the donor’s loved ones. Structures and amenities include a playground, parking lot, turfed lawn, many trees, picnic tables, benches located in and around shaded areas, 2 half-court basketball courts and restroom facility. 

The upper section of the park has been dedicated as a memorial to the military men and women from Yucaipa who lost their lives while defending our Country."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy - Worst School Subject

Week 43:  Worst School Subject. What was your worst or least favorite subject in school and why?

 My least favorite schools subjects - and the ones I struggled in the most - were math and science.  I still don't like them today, which is probably why I struggle so much trying to understand DNA!  I find that I have forgotten a lot of my multiplication tables and am totally dependent on a calculator.  The first "C" I ever got on a report card was in 5th grade math.  That's how big an impression it made on me.  That and the fact my father went and spoke to my teacher about my grade.  That is the same year we discovered that I am nearsighted, and I started wearing glasses.  I could blame my poor grade in math on my not being able to see the chalkboard, but that wasn't it.  I am just bad at math.  Even though I have many left brain characteristics, being good at math is not one of them!  All those X's and Y's make no sense to me.

As I mentioned, I never cared for science, either.  Especially not biology.  I am not squeamish about much, but dissecting frogs did NOT appeal to me at all.  Maybe I'm too much of an animal lover.   Chemistry is too much like math, in my opinion.  I would much rather know when we landed on the moon than how the rocket got there. 

So, Ginger, when you are trying to explain DNA results to me, with words like genomes and chromosomes or acronyms like mtDNA, and my eyes glaze over... now you know why!

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.

Monday, October 24, 2011

D.C. Tourists for a Day

Saturday was our chance to be tourists in D.C. for a day.  We did not have a set time we had to be home so there was no reason to not sight-see.

We conquered the Metro again despite the facts that they had one side of the tracks shut down at the Huntington station to landscape (!) and we had to change lines for the trip to the Library of Congress.  As I said, we're pros now so we made it to our destination with no problems.

The Library of Congress is an absolutely beautiful building, both inside and out!

Ginger Smith at the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C., October 22, 2011
Looking up from the floor of the Great Hall on the first floor of the Library of Congress
We decided to do the self-tour, mostly because I didn't feel we would be able to hear the tour guide very well.  It was Saturday, the place was very crowded, and those marble floors do make an echo. When my mother and I visited Los Angeles last year, we took a tour, and we were given headphones.  The tour guide spoke into a microphone and we could all hear her very plainly on the busy streets, but it was not loud to others nearby.  I believe the Library of Congress would do well with such a system.  However, no one asked my opinion, so we made our way through the self-guided tour.  We oohed and aaahed over the architecture and the murals.  We did see the original Gutenberg Bible and the Giant Bible of Mainz.  We were mostly interested in the large casket-like cases they were in and the constant temperature and humidity at which they are kept.  We went through a couple of exhibits:  They had a recreation of Thomas Jefferson's personal library, which he sold to the government after the Congressional Library was burned by the British in 1814.  His works are the core from which the present Library of Congress's collection developed.  Another exhibit was "Exploring the Early Americas."  And of course no visit to an attraction is complete without a stop at the gift shop.  I was good and only purchased one magnet for my extensive collection. 

On our next visit, we plan to get researcher cards so we can venture into the private hallways and research rooms. 

In front of the building is King Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, and his court in the Neptune Fountain.

After leaving the LOC, we rode the Metro to the National Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station.  It was lunch time, so we walked back down to the Old Post Office Pavilion. 

After eating lunch, we got in line to go to the top of the Old Post Office Clock Tower and see the panoramic view.  The wait was reasonable, and the views were fantastic!  They had strands of wire hung in front of the window openings, so I did what any good scrapbooker would do:  I broke the rules and stuck my camera lens right through those wires to get the shots!  It was well worth my recklessness. 

When we finished the Clock Tower Tour, we walked down to the National Archives.  Whereas researchers enter NARA through the Pennsylvania Avenue entrance, tourists enter NARA off of Constitution Avenue to see the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.  Again it was Saturday, so the line was quite long.  Once we made it inside, there was still a 20-30 minute wait to view the documents and accompanying exhibits.  A security guard shouts some information, instructions and rules to you; again, this site could make good use of a microphone.  The items are set up in a half circle around the room, and one of the instructions was not to form a line and move across the room in one direction.  They wanted visitors to just move back and forth to see the exhibits in no particular order.  Well, this was pretty impossible unless you wanted to cut right in front of someone.  It seemed very disorganized to me.  After our turn at viewing, we went on to see some of the other exhibits they had on display and stopped by the gift shop to pick up another magnet. 

It was getting late in the day and we still had a five hour trip ahead of us so we again took the Metro back to the Huntington Station and headed home.  It was a fun day, full of some of the great things D.C. has to offer. 

Now we just have to find the time to process all the genealogy information we gathered!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day Two: Our final day at NARA

On this, the second day of our NARA adventure, we were old hands at getting around.  We breezed through the Metro and arrived at NARA about 10 AM.  Security was also a breeze, as well as signing in and getting our bright orange visitor/researcher badges.  We had done all of this before; we were now experts.  (We have also been very fortunate during this visit that the lines have been very short or nonexistent.)

We got another locker for our belongings and immediately hit the Finding Aids area; Ginger had more land records to fill out requests to have pulled, and I was still on the George Schwalls' short-lived Navy career hunt.  The same helpful archivist as yesterday helped me; he was relentless!  At one point, he had like six books open on the table, trying to find anything at all about George Schwalls even being in the CSA Navy.  Finally, he thought he had something and he called upstairs for help from another archivist.  She figured out what I needed to view (or at least she thought she did) and brought down the request form for me to complete.  The items would be pulled at 1:30 PM.

I helped Ginger look for some Confederate service records and then we headed to lunch.  We decided to get out of the NARA building today and walked a couple of blocks to the old Post Office.  It is now full of shops and a food court.  It is quite a contrast... the outside is absolutely beautiful and ornate while the inside is strip mall flashy and tacky.  There must be at least some federal offices still located in the building because at the main entrance where we went in, you still have to go through security.

The Old Post Office Pavilion, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C.
 After lunch, it was back up to the Central Research Room to view the War of 1812 Service and Pension Records we had requested the night before.  The service records were not robust at all.  Just a couple of "tickets" - one being information transferred from the regiments' muster roll and the other being payroll information.  I obviously need to do some research on the War of 1812 because it seems the men were enlisted for short terms, i.e., one of mine was six months and another was only 60 days.  Anyway, the information in those service records was sketchy at best.

Then I got to the the one pension file I had requested.  It was for my 4th great-grandfather, Jonathan Hesser.  Until the night before this trip, I was not even aware he had served during the War of  1812.  This pension file was no doubt the most exciting find of my trip.  I was not 100% certain that this was "my" Jonathan Hesser, but the pension file convinced me as it listed his wife and the fact that when he applied for the pension, he lived in Ohio.  The file is over 20 pages, and while I have not read every page line by line, I am still very excited to have it.  I look forward to transcribing and sharing it here on my blog.

You can only have one record out at a time, so it was after I finished looking at the military files before I could take a look at whatever the archivist had pulled for me regarding George Schwalls' Confederate Naval service.  It turned out to be two very old books of Naval Special Orders from 1863 and 1864.  It was with great hope that I opened the 1864 order book (George supposedly was transferred from the Confederate Army to the Navy in January of 1865, so the archivist and I were speculating that he received his orders in late 1864.)  I searched the Index of Names... no Schwalls.  OK, don't panic, Liz.  I turned to Special Order #88... which is the one the archivist thought would apply.  The order was several pages long, but there was no mention of George.  Hope is dimming, but there is one more thing I can double-check.  Paragraph 38 was also on George's naval service index card... so I checked that paragraph again for any mention of George... there was none.  As I dejectedly flipped back and forth in the book, looking for anything pertaining to my ancestor, I realized that this book only covered January - March 1864.  Wait a minute!  I need orders for later in the year.  Uh Oh.  It's almost the last pull time of the day:  3:30.  I have to hurry.  So I took the box back to the desk, explained my problem, and they sent me back down to my archivist friend in Finding Aides.  He had me fill out another request form with the other books I needed pulled and told me not to worry about the pull time.   He would get them to me in the Central Research Room.  He did deliver two boxes to me in about 30 minutes' time.  I eagerly began poring over them, and even enlisted Ginger's help.  No Schwalls anywhere.  The Special Order #88 in 1865 did not mention him.  The entire exercise was a bust.  Oh, well, that is the story of my research on George W. Schwalls.  My friend, Donna, swears he was a spy, and now I'm beginning to believe that, too.  It seems that every direction I turn in my research of him, I hit a brick wall.

Here I am, about to pitch a fit because I cannot find George Schwalls ANYWHERE!
 There were no more finds today. This concludes the story of my first ever trip to the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  It was exciting, frustrating, amazing, intimidating, exhausting, etc.  All those adjectives I used to describe the visit in the beginning still held at the end.

SIDE NOTE:  This is my 250th blog post!  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day One at NARA

Amazing, overwhelming, intimidating, fun, exciting, exasperating, and exhausting are just a few of the adjectives I would use to describe my day of genealogical research at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  No one can prepare you fully.  You just have to go there and experience it first hand.

The Metro train ride into D.C. from Alexandria went off without a hitch.  It is definitely the best way to get around up here!  So when we arrived on Pennsylvania Avenue, were were not stressed from traffic or trying to locate parking.

National Archives and Record Administration, 700 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.

Before we ever entered the National Archives building, a security guard out front asked us if she could help us.  I don't think that is what she meant so much as "What is your business here?"  However, I told her we were there to research, and she told us to go on in.  The first item of business is going through a security check point.  No pat downs here, thank goodness.  Then you sign in and are given a visitor/research badge to wear.  If you have a camera, scanner, or other electronic equipment, you present them to the security guard at the desk and the serial numbers are written on a form.  This form and the equipment will be checked against each other when you leave the building to protect against theft, etc.

When these steps were completed, we continued to the lobby and inquired at the desk where to begin.  We were directed into a research room to receive our Researcher IDs.  We had to watch a PowerPoint presentation and fill in our identification information.  Then our photos were taken and we were given our very own National Archives Research ID cards!  We are now official!  The cards are good for one year.  Then we proceeded to get a locker to store our belongings.

We started our research by going to the Finding Aids area to inquire about having land case files pulled for us.  The next pull time - 11 AM - was only 15 minutes away by this time so we were racing the clock.  An employee assisted us in filling out Research Service Slips for the files we wanted pulled.  I managed to get all of mine in for the 11 AM pull; Ginger got half of hers in and was able to get the balance turned in for the 1:30 PM pull.  That was no problem because we were still upstairs in Room 203, the Central Research Room - working with the first pulled land case files we were brought.

It takes about an hour for the requested records to be pulled for researchers, so we went to the microfilm area to learn the ropes there.  It was pretty easy and straightforward, and the employees were very nice and helpful.  The time passes very quickly at NARA so before we knew it, it was time to head upstairs to view our land case files.  That was OK - we could look at microfilm later.

The Central Research Room, Room 203 on the second floor, which is where you go to view original documents, is another security heavy area.  There is a security guard just inside the door that has to scan your Research ID every single time you enter or leave the room.  They also check loose papers you bring in and in my case, asked me to open my Flip Pal each time.  The papers you bring in have to be stamped so they can be differentiated from the copies you may make while there.  We sat at research desks and waited for our documents to arrive.  When they did, it was an out-of-body experience for me to handle the paperwork from the mid-1800s that my great-great-grandfather handled and signed!  I had about 10-12 land case files to pull and copy.  There were a couple in which the pages had stuck together so I had to scan those on my Flip Pal rather than try to copy them on the copier.  In one way or another, I got a copy of every single page of each file.  I will share some of those here in future posts.

You are allowed to leave your research desk and all of your research for up to 60 minutes at a time.  So we took a break about 2 PM and went down to the cafe to have some lunch.  Once we were fortified with food, we went right back to work.

Now at this point, the experienced among you maybe asking, "Liz, why didn't you use your digital camera and NARA's nifty camera tripod stations to photograph the records?"  Well, I'm still a little old-fashioned in my research, and while I love technology, I do not love how my camera produces photos without flash.  (Flash photography is NOT allowed.)  So I would rather take the extra steps (and money) to copy the paperwork on the copiers at NARA, and then scan and save it to my computer when I return home.  It's also instant gratification because I can tell right away if my paper copy came out to my satisfaction.  With my camera, while there is a picture preview window, I can still be fooled sometimes and not realize the photograph is not up to par until after I get home.  Of course, by then, I'm 5 hours away and unable to get another image.

When I finished copying my land case files, I went to the desk and a research librarian placed all of my paperwork, both the papers I had brought in with me and the copies I had made, into a green, locked bag (like those deposit bags business use, except larger).  Those bags are opened by a security guard and your papers are given to you only as you are leaving the building at the end of your research day.  Anyway, I returned downstairs to the microfilm area to begin researching military records.  I had done some research at home and knew most of the roll numbers of the microfilm I wanted to view.  That enabled me to go right to looking up the location of those microfilm in the catalog provided in the research area and pull film to view.  I prepared requests for War of 1812 service records and pension files to be pulled overnight for us to view tomorrow.  I did not find bounty land grands or pension files for my Revolutionary or Civil War soldiers.  And while I finally found one small reference to George Schwalls in the Confederate Navy records, the code was undecipherable to not only me, but several of the reference librarians!  So I remain at the same brick wall with him.

My day was far from smooth sailing.  I forgot batteries for my Flip Pal.  I had an extra set of rechargeable for my camera, but when I inserted them into the scanner, they were dead.  So I had to take the batteries out of my camera and put them in the Flip Pal while holding my breath they would hold up through the land case files.  I went upstairs to view those files and forgot to add money to my ID card for making copies.  The machine in Room 203 that does this was not working, so I had to go back downstairs to the Cashier's Office to add $10 to my Researcher ID.  (This works as a debit card and makes paying for copies so much easier.)  Then when I went back downstairs a few hours later to view microfilm, I had left the locker key with Ginger.  Another trip upstairs and back down for that.  Some days my clumsiness/forgetfulness demands a full workout. 

I am sure tomorrow will be much easier now that I "know the ropes."  It will be mostly military records day.  Even if I don't make any earth-shattering discoveries, it will be great to add to my collection of information about my soldier ancestors.  Until then...

We're going to NARA

Headed out today on a new adventure.  Ginger Smith of the Genealogy by Ginger's Blog and I are on our way to Washington D.C. to do genealogy research at the National Archives (NARA).  This is like the big leagues.  While I am very excited, I am also intimidated.  I have read as much as I can on the NARA website, and tried to commit it all to memory, but I am not sure once I walk through those doors if I will even remember who my great-grandfather was, never mind what I can take in, what I have to leave in a locker, which microfilm to look at, or when the pull times are!  I have several pages of notes, so I am just going to have to have faith that I will find something I am looking for.

Among other things, I am looking for the following:

* Civil War Service Record for my great-great-grandfather Comfort Ranney
* Civil War Pension File for Comfort Ranney
* Confederate Naval record for my great-great-grandfather George Schwalls
* War of 1812 Service record for Comfort Ranney
* War of 1812 Service record for Archibald Odom
* War of 1812 Service record for Jonathan Hesser
* Revolutionary War file/bounty land award information for 4th g-grandfather Comfort Ranney
* Revolutionary War file/bounty land award information for Nathaniel Ranney
* Land Records for Comfort Ranney (There are 7 that I pulled off the BLM site.)
* Land Records for Jonathan Hesser (There are 3 that I pulled off the BLM site.)

Is that enough to keep me busy for two days?  Is it too much?  We shall see.  I will share my findings tomorrow, if I'm not too exhausted or cross-eyed from my day of diligent research!

Surely I will have an easier day of it tomorrow.  I mean, riding the Metro to D.C. (We are staying in Alexandria, Virginia) in the sunshine should be easier than driving the entire way from Durham in the rain.  I mean, the ENTIRE way.  I hate driving in the rain.  I-95 was especially scary with the semi-trucks throwing streams of water behind them.  In addition, it got dark at about 5:30 because it was raining!  So to say that I am looking forward to seeing the sun tomorrow would be an understatement.

We did take a break on the drive and stopped at IKEA in Woodbridge.  We do not have one in Raleigh/Durham - the closest one to us is two hours away in Charlotte - so it was a treat to visit. I only picked up a few little things and still managed to spend $30! 


Our great adventure continues tomorrow...