Genealogical Resources

For genealogists, ‘free’ websites with useful information are always desirable, since so much of genealogy work requires payment of some sort, and that adds up quickly.  That’s not to say that pay websites are evil – they provide a wealth of information at our fingertips, allowing us to research at 4 a.m. in our pajamas, if we wish.  And much of their content is not readily accessible to the general public otherwise.  Even so, ‘free’ is always nice.

Because of that, and because for a while I worked in a Family History Center helping others, I began collecting websites into Word documents for my own reference.  I don’t claim to have found them all on my own, and some may no longer exist.  (I don’t actively curate the lists, just add what I find.  If I do see duplication, though, I remove it, as well as any sites I find that are no longer there.  The date I indicate is the date I put it into the Word file.  If I go to the website after that date and thus confirm it still exists, I change the date accordingly.)

These originally were broken down by U.S. state and by other countries (if I ran across anything).  Over the years, a few ‘specialty’ groups appeared, like Military, Cemeteries, Newspapers and Maps.

The thought occurred to me today that while these are useful to me, they are not particularly helping anyone else (unless that other person has found these sites also).  To that end, I thought I would mention their existence here, in case anyone was interested in having a copy of one or more of them.  If you are, feel free to contact me via the Contact page linked at the top and provide your email, specifying which ones are of interest to you – there are presently over 150 separate files.  Most are currently Word documents, though some are still in rtf format (I’ve gradually been converting them to Word).  At need, I could put them in PDF format, but if you wanted very many of them, that would take a while.  Some have a LOT of pages (50, 80, 100+) and some have a single entry.  It all depends on what I’ve found.

Anyway, there’s your freebie offer of the day.

Here’s a sample of what is in the Military document:

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US – The free website Genealogy Trails is currently working on adding the 1883 Pensioners on the Roll for every county in every state. These are pension records of Union soldiers. The project is currently around 60% complete. Work has also started on transcribing the 1890 Veterans Census. This project is currently around 25% complete (note: records are not available from all states because some of these census records were destroyed by fire). Access is free. [Genealogy Trails] 

(http://genealogytrails.com/)                                                                                                                       3-29-14

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The Irish in the American Civil War, Posted: 24 Mar 2014

If you’ve got Irish ancestors who fought in the American Civil War, this website/blog may have some interesting reading for you–“The Irish in the American Civil War.”  (http://irishamericancivilwar.com/)

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Scotland – The National Library of Scotland has put online Rolls of Honour from World War I. These are lists of casualties and those who died while on active service. The collection includes rolls from schools, universities, clans, businesses, churches and towns. Some of the Rolls of Honour contain detailed biographies of the soldiers, as shown below. The collection can be searched by keyword, such as name. Access is free. [Scottish WWI Rolls of Honour]  

(http://digital.nls.uk/rolls-of-honour/pageturner.cfm?id=100261716)                            7-13-14

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Look Before You Leap

and Think Before You Act/Speak/Post

It’s become common practice to just do/say/post anything at all that you want, and then if it gets you into trouble, to offer an “apology” and pretend like it was all just a simple mistake or accident.  Often these insincere ‘apologies’ are meant to soothe ruffled feathers in order to salvage reputation or career.  The trouble is, no one believes them anymore than the person offering them.  False contrition is easy to recognize.

“Tee hee, pardon my French.”       [Meaning you don’t care enough to avoid foul language in company that might not appreciate it, but you think saying this lets you off the hook.]

“I’m not really a racist.  I don’t know why I tweeted that, but I’m really sorry.”            [Meaning I really did mean it, but everyone’s angry and it might hurt my job, so I have to say I’m sorry to keep myself from losing any money.]

“I apologize.  That was a poor choice of words and I didn’t mean to offend anyone.”       [Meaning you didn’t care if you offended anyone or not, but when there was an uproar then you thought you ought to pretend like you do care.]

Fake apologies don’t fix anything, and they don’t absolve you of the wrong-doing.  They never have, and they never will.

Try paying attention to what you write and say and do, and don’t write/say/do it if you “really don’t mean it”.

We can be anything we want in life.  Maybe we should shoot for kind and courteous, rather than rude, vulgar or insensitive.

Summer Cleaning?

Managed to sneak in a week’s vacation this week.  Our office is moving soon to a new location and I’m heavily involved, so getting time away is a challenge.

This week hasn’t been terribly productive, unless you count catching up on sleep.  Even so, between downsizing at home and preparing for the move at work, organization is heavily on my mind.  Here are a couple of pointers if you’re looking to lighten your load also.

1)  Even if you have it on paper (and want to keep it on paper), try to make a digital copy of most everything.  Photos, documents, etc.  Paper piles up quickly and much of it you really don’t need to have taking up space.  Digital copies (and backups) allows you to eliminate much of it.  It also saves you if a disaster comes, like flood or fire.  At least then, not everything is lost.

And label those digital copies in a useful way.  Simply calling a file ‘Joe’, then ‘Joe2’ and ‘Joe3’ isn’t very helpful.  Yes, it narrows things down, but what if you’re looking for a photo of Joe Marshall’s fifth birthday party?  And what if you know more than one Joe?  You still have to wade through all those photos until you find the one you want.  Instead, labelling them something like ‘Marshall_Joe_fifth birthday party’ or ‘Marshall_Joe_birthday party_06.21.17’ gives you a much better idea of what/who is in a photo.

While this applies to your day-to-day life, it can also specifically be applied to your hobbies or even your avocations.  I have a ton of research I have collected on various topics in connection with my writing.  I want to be able to find that information easily, and not have to hunt it down on the Internet a second time.  Giving files useful names is the key.

2)  Try to keep things organized from the start.  It’s much easier to maintain than it is to suddenly start organizing a ton of information.  If you already have that ton of information lying around unorganized, start fresh now keeping things in order, and then clean up that disorganized information as you find time.  It will make it easier to find things, work with information, etc.

3)  Trust me on this – you are NOT going to remember as much as you think you will several years from now.  I can look back at things I wrote ten or more years ago about people who were obviously important to me at that time and have no clue who they were, what they looked like or anything about them.  If you really want to remember, you’d best be getting it in writing and in photos and making sure photos are labelled as to who is in them, where it was taken and anything else of importance.

4)  Take a close look at what you have.  Some things are keepsakes, but do you remember why?  If not, why are you keeping them?  Those books on your shelves – do you ever read them, refer to them or are you likely to do so?  If not, why are they there?  If it’s broken and useless, put it in the trash.  If it is still useful and someone else might like it, give it to someone you know or a charity or a library or anyone else interested.

Some cities have a Freecycle email group wherein you can offer what you have and others can claim it.  Then you simply arrange for them to collect it.  You can also request things you need that someone might have lying around, but would like to get rid of.  If you can find one of those lists, it is a more targeted way of sharing things that you no longer have use for.

Do you want to spend your summer cleaning house and organizing things?  Probably not, but you can do a little at a time.  If you open a junk drawer and see something that belongs somewhere else or is broken or is no longer needed, get it out of there while you’re thinking of it.  If you have time, maybe clean that entire drawer.  Set up a box or bag for donations or things to give to family members.  Then every time you run across something put it in that box/bag and that’s one less thing in your drawers or closets.  If you are getting something out of your closet, and spot something you never wear and probably never will again, pull it out of there now.

Truthfully, I’m one of the laziest people you’ll find, but being efficient means I do less work with less effort.  I’m in my living room.  If I get up to go into the bathroom, bedroom or kitchen, and there is something in the living room that should be in one of those places, I take it with me when I go.  Then I don’t have to make a special trip.  If I take a dirty dish to the kitchen and have time, I might wash all the accumulated dirty dishes before I leave the kitchen.

You can simplify your life if you try, and it’s amazing how getting rid of clutter and having things organized lifts a load from your mind.

I Don’t Mean to Cause Trouble

I’ve always been a little, shall we say, independent-minded.  I couldn’t really help it.  Often what came into my head came out of my mouth.  Is it my fault that other people give me strange looks?  Ease away from me?  Of course not!

I mean, in school, they were teaching us about the Treaty of Versailles.  Okay good, okay fine.  Except there was a nearby city in our state with the name Versailles.  Still no problem, right?  Only, the city was pronounced “Ver-sales”.  Yet my teacher insisted that it was the Treaty of “Ver-sigh”.

Nope, not buying it.  I took the problem to my mother, my confidante, the one who should have my back!  She had the nerve to agree with the teacher!

Yeah, well, they weren’t testing me at school for correct pronunciation.  I got my revenge on these uncooperative people – I purposely switched the pronunciations.  That’ll teach them to mess with my head.

And, then, my mom got upset with me – told me that I needed to learn to read a map.  Why?  Because she didn’t like the way I navigated.  Why should I remember a bunch of directions and street names?  Once you use those to figure out where something is, then you find easier ways to identify the location.

Case in point.  Our city had a courthouse, and like many courthouses, there was a horse statue with some military guy riding it.  Don’t ask me who – never cared enough to find out and remember.  My point is, if my mother wanted me to go places, she’d give me street names, and maybe say it was behind the courthouse.  Then she got annoyed when I’d ask, “Is the courthouse the building with the horse statue in front of it?”  Perfectly reasonable question, in my opinion, but she went off on a tirade of my needing to learn to read a map.  I tried explaining to her that I could read a map, but didn’t need to do so in order to get to the building with the horse statue.  So then she challenges me with, “Yes, but what are you going to do if they ever take that horse statue down?  How will you find it then, if you don’t know the streets?”

Come on, mom, really?  Isn’t it obvious?  “Then it will be the building that used to have a horse statue in front of it.”  Duh!

Like I said, I don’t mean to cause trouble, but really it isn’t my fault.  Others just need to be more flexible in their thinking.  At least that’s my opinion on the matter.  Who’s with me on this?

Question

Why is the preferred method for silencing a barking dog to scream loudly (every time it barks) for it to shut up.  In so doing, most of the time, the owner is making more noise than the dog was… 

Just sayin’.

Are We In the Twilight Zone?

Looking around the world in 2018, but especially here in the U.S., it’s like the Civil Rights movement never happened.  It’s like the Civil War never happened.  It’s like the Revolutionary War never happened.  Supposedly we fought and died to escape the tyranny in our homelands, and fled to a new land where we thought we could breathe free.  We didn’t have a problem with killing the people who were already here, and who took exception to our ‘illegal immigration’, but didn’t we learn anything from our bloody history?

I’m beginning to think not.  Maybe the Native Americans should have warned us this would happen, but would we have listened?  Just because our government repeatedly broke faith with them, why should we believe it would ever happen to us?

Until it has.

Why Do I Write?

On another blog (http://writertowriters.com/sometimes-wonder-write/) the blogger asked the question “Why Do I Write?”  I’m guessing all writers ask themselves that question at one point or another, and the answers likely are as varied as snowflakes.  It depends on what we want to accomplish with our writing, our circumstances in life and many other things personal to each writer.

The blogger, Walt Page Walt Page, included this among his reasons, and these certainly are part of why I write also:

“Writing makes me happy, makes me feel alive, keeps me young and keeps my mind active. I write because I am a writer.

Who I am, why I write and how I write will never depend on the judgments or approvals of others. I am, and always will be, a work in progress. I write for myself and not what I think people want to read.”

For much of my life, I’ve written fan fiction, in one world or another.  It began on paper (before computers), and was shared with friends in letters, or just for my own amusement.  Though I enjoy writing, I’ve never felt a burning desire to be officially published, with all that goes with that.  But I do enjoy sharing my stories with an appreciative audience, and the Internet has connected me to a much broader audience than I’ve ever known.

I’ve also discovered that I do well in writing Instruction Manuals.  This came into play at work when, unable to find an adequate manual setting down how to do things, I wrote them for myself.  Others noticed, asked to look at them and then wanted a copy of their own.  So I shared those.

Through the years, the vagaries and events of life have sometimes pulled me in other directions, and during those times I wrote very little.  It was while considering my job one day, and realizing that it held no mental challenge for me, that I noticed how far I had backslid.  Whereas before I could think of several possible words to describe a single thing, my mind was slowly becoming boring, single-word mush.  I’ve had an extensive vocabulary most of my life – I did not like it wasting away through lack of use.  So, I began writing again partly for the mental stimulation.

There are many reasons why I write, and sometimes they vary at different times in my life.

  1. To get instructions down in an easy to follow format for my personal use.
  2. To have stories that I want to read, when nothing I see “out there” appeals to me.
  3. And I like to play with words, create characters and situations, and breathe life into them.
  4. Even though I write for me, I enjoy sharing with any who are interested. But, if no one else is interested, I would still write for me, as I always have. 

I’ve never been much of a journal writer, mainly I suppose because it mostly is a detailing of what has happened.  Though it can be introspective, and I occasionally do that, it does not greatly interest me.  I want something more creative.  I want to discover the story.  I want to find out what happens next, because unlike some writers, I don’t always know that going in.  If I do know what the end will be, then I want to see how I get there.  And I want to get there in a creative way, not merely copy the tropes and plot lines that everyone uses.  A romance?  Okay.  We all know the basic idea – boy and girl meet and eventually fall in love.  They may encounter difficulty in getting there.  But why tell that story if I can’t bring something new to it?  I don’t want to rehash what everyone else has done – I want to find something new.  Some details may be similar or even the same, but there needs to be something unexpected or even I won’t want to read it.

What about you?  Why do you feel compelled to write?

[see:  https://millyschmidt.com/2017/09/05/why-do-you-write/ ]

Yes, I’m Angry Too

But that doesn’t justify any and every action.  Peaceful protests – yes.  Wearing clothing with slogans that counteract and object to what someone else wore – sure.  But bullying – no.

And that’s what we are starting to see.  Many people don’t like government policies, laws or even personnel, but we have no more right to bully them than we do to bully celebrities, people on the Internet, people on the street, our neighbors or our families.  Behaving as badly as they do is not a solution, folks.

Take a strong stand.  Speak up.  Organize peaceful protests to make sure you are seen and heard.  And, certainly, VOTE.  But publicly harassing people for things is wrong.  It affects not just them, but those around them (say, those people sitting nearby in a restaurant trying to have a quiet meal with friends or family).

If you don’t like the way a company conducts business, then withhold your patronage from them.  Don’t buy their products or visit their facilities.  Threatening them is not the answer.  Giving negative reviews is not the answer, either.  If you have never been to or made use of a company’s products and services, you shouldn’t be reviewing them.  If you did make use of their products/services, your review should reflect that experience – poor quality, poor service, etc. – not their politics.  Reviews are not the forum to express political opinions.

You’re not helping your argument that a person or group have done something objectionable when you attempt to harrass or bully them into acting as you wish.  It only reflects poorly on you, and is apt to backfire when others react with sympathy toward the abused.  When you act like the bullies, you become one of them.