Arriving By Ship

The last few days I’ve been doing a lot of searching through old newspapers for hints of information, obituaries, articles, etc. On a whim, since my ZALEWSKI ancestors arrived in Baltimore, I decided to see which newspapers Google had from Baltimore. On a side note, as amazing as Google is at organizing data, their historical newspapers are not very well organized. I simply love the fact that I can browse these old papers, so that’s awesome. It’s just that you can easily search everything all at once, but not specific papers. The Milwaukee papers I mentioned in my recent post were different because JSOnline did some of their own code to search all 3 papers at once. Also, the papers are listed alphabetically, but not by location. It’s tough to find all papers from one location, except if the paper was named for the city. To find the location of, say, “The Daily Republican,” you need to open one and look at an image. A lot of work.

Anyway, I found that Google had images from the Baltimore American from 1857 to 1902. I had originally gone in to see if they possibly had any information on one infant ZALEWSKI daughter, Elsa, who was on the passenger list but never seen again. I had assumed she died not long after arriving and thought there may be a mention of it. Instead, I ended up seeing that every day the paper would list the comings and goings at the Port of Baltimore. The first paper I browsed was Saturday, November 23, 1889, the day my family arrived. Nothing listed in there. Then I checked the next day, Sunday, November 24, 1889 and found this:

Baltimore American, 24 Nov 1889

The first line on the “Arrived Yesterday” list is the ship the ZALEWSKI family arrived on, the S.S. Weser.

Stmr Weser (Ger). Bruns, from Bremen Nov 6 — 426 passengers and mdse to A. Schumacher & Co.

From what I can find, I think “mdse” stands for “Merchandise.” I’m also pretty sure “Bruns” is the name of the captain as the other entires have similar mentions. There is also a bit about the pilot of the Weser seeing some other ships and giving descriptions of them at the bottom. Though, there is no “new” information from this article, except the exact date the ship left Bremen, it’s very cool to see the actual article from when they arrived in America. It almost makes it more real, if that makes sense.

The only thing I did find in the November 23rd edition of the paper was an ad for the S.S. Weser from their shipping company, Nord Deutscher Lloyd.

SS Weser Ad
Baltimore American, 23 Nov 1889

I think my immigrant ancestors may (or may not) argue that the ships had “splendid Cabin accommodations,” but maybe I’m wrong. I might just have to do some research on “A. SCHUMACHER & CO.” to see what I can find.


Genealogy Habits, Attitudes and Origins Survey

I found a link to this over at Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings website. It’s a link a survey about people’s genealogy habits, attitudes and origins. According to the survey page, they plan to share the results with libraries, family history organizations or societies at no cost.

I took the survey earlier and it was well-done. I agree with Randy when he says that it’s one of the best he has seen. It should take no longer than 15-20 minutes.

Use this link to visit the survey: Family History Survey

CategoriesFamily TreeFeaturedTechnologyTips & Tricks

The Problem with Ancestry’s Trees

It’s the bane of any genealogy research. Finding out you have incorrect information long after you’ve added it to your family tree. In the worst cases, this could have ended up with you researching the wrong line for years. Fortunately, I’ve never (at least not yet) had that issue.

While I love with their user-submitted family trees and I have used it constantly in my research, it’s a double-edged sword, especially for newer researchers. I sigh and roll my eyes every time I see their television commercial that shows a woman who notices the “shaky leaf” on some of the names in her family tree. When she clicks on them, she is able to add whole new families to her tree. Unfortunately, it seems most people think it’s that easy. Just click and boom, all your work is done.

I admit that in the beginning of my research over ten years ago, I usually just went for quantity over quality. It was so exciting to find new people and information that you just added it. I’ve paid the price for that now, but fortunately not in any major way. I’ve just had to go back, change a few pieces, and re-find all of the sources. That has actually indirectly helped me find new information, since now I look closer at every source I find.

I can use my great-great-grandfather’s profile to prove my point.

CategoriesTechnologyTips & Tricks

What I Do

From The meme is called “What I Do” and you basically list what you use in terms of technology to either run your genealogy business or pursue your family history as a hobby.

Why is this important?  Very often we operate in a vacuum.  We have no idea what other people are using unless they mention it in an email or a blog post.  Or we have to ask for a recommendation.

So take a look.  Copy and use the list below if you want to participate at your blog.  Use the words “What I Do” in the post title and I’ll list it here:

  • Hardware: HP Pavilion Elite m9040n Core 2 Quad Q6600 Desktop Computer with 3GB RAM, 640GB SATA with Windows 7 (I didn’t memorize that, I swear. It’s from the receipt.)
  • External storage: 1TB Maxtor USB drive
  • Online storage: None, besides some of my web host FTP space which gives me like 8GB.
  • Backup: A few things. Windows 7 backup, manual backup, and also SyncBack.
  • Firewall: Comodo Firewall
  • Virus protection: AVG Free AntiVirus
  • Spyware: None, unless I think I need a scan, than usually AdAware
  • File cleaner: None. Honestly, there is no real need for these with today’s drive sizes.
  • Printer: HP All-in-one
  • Phone: iPhone 3G (link goes to 3GS, since mine is old)
  • Mobile media: iPod Touch/iPhone
  • Music player: iPod Touch
  • Car audio: Pioneer with MP3 CD capability – iPod connector no longer works with new models, but it still charges it.
  • eBook Reader: none, unless you count Google Books for some  stuff
  • Browser: Main – Google Chrome – Also have IE 8, Firefox, Safari (on my phone) for testing.
  • Blog: WordPress Self-Hosted
  • RSS: Google Reader
  • FTP: Filezilla
  • Text editor: UltraEdit
  • Graphics: Photoshop, GIMP, or MS Paint (which is nice in Win7)
  • Screen capture: PrintScreen button (no need for a program)
  • Social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, etc
  • Social bookmarking: nothing specific
  • Social profile: See “Social media” above
  • URL shortener:
  • Office suite: None usually, but if I need one, OpenOffice or Google Docs
  • E-mail: Gmail
  • Calendar: Google Calender (syncs with my iPhone)
  • Accounting:
  • PDF generator: None, don’t really do it much and most programs do it on their own.
  • Genealogy database: Rootsmagic 4
  • Genealogy tools: The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding for my web tree, Ancestry’s “Tree To Go” and FamViewer for my iPhone to view my stuff when out.
  • Other tech stuff: Google Picasa for photos, UltraEdit for my web developing (no cheesy WYSIWYG editor for me), VSO Image Resizer for quick image resizing, and probably lots of other things I’m forgetting.
CategoriesFeaturedMilwaukeeTechnologyTips & Tricks

Maps. Maps. Maps.

I started using the Google Maps system to plot some of my family’s locations awhile back, but I never got around to finishing it. Recently, I plotted most of the major Milwaukee locations for my family and it’s interesting to see how it looks once you know where things are. I’ve always had an idea, but it’s better to see it in it’s final state.

An interesting thing about Milwaukee is that it went through a massive addressing overhaul in 1931, so a lot of the address information from census records is different today. Fortunately, I found a website that has some basic conversion tools and was able to (hopefully) pinpoint these addresses. Give it a try sometime. It’s neat to see how your family moved around.

View Milwaukee Locations in a larger map and access to the legend.

CategoriesMilwaukeeTechnologyTips & Tricks

Professional Resources

Today I was browsing some of the professional genealogy society-type websites. I hope to one day become certified in some sort of genealogy-related area. I know that I’ll enjoy doing genealogy for the rest of my life and hopefully I’ll be able to help others.

The first one I came to was Board for Certification of Genealogists. I was curious as to what it took to become certified. It actually seems in reach since applicants are sent a photocopy of an historical document that relates to the geographic areas and time periods in which they normally work. I read over one of their example that dealt with an area I’m familiar with, an 1870 Wisconsin Deed. Everything that they went over would be something that I would normally ask myself or make notes on. I don’t have much experience with deeds, but I can figure out the basics of what I’m looking for. Have any of you readers become, or tried to become, certified?

I know that one of my weak points right now is probably sourcing. Don’t get me wrong, I add every possible source to everything I enter into my family tree, but I’m not hip on the lingo. Does anyone know of any good references of how to write out your sources, preferably free? BCG has a book, but they want me to spend $45 on it.

I also looked at the National Genealogical Society’s website. This is not really a certification, but it is a central location that a lot of genealogists go to. Is anyone here a member of NGS? Are the online courses worth the money? I’d like to become a member, but I want to make sure I get my money’s worth. I hope to one day be able to go to one of their genealogical conferences. I’d love to meet other genealogists.

I do plan on becoming a member of a local genealogical society, the Milwaukee County Genealogical Society. A lot of my family lived and died in the Milwaukee County area. Plus, it’s pretty decent deal at $12/year and you get some access to helpful local information, etc. Plus, it’ll make me go out and meet other people doing research in the same area. Maybe I can help them get their website into the 21st century, too. What are your experiences with local genealogical societies?

Photo: amyc500@flickr

CategoriesSiteTechnologyTips & Tricks

Installing Your Own Family Tree

My Tree

You’ve been doing all of this work on your family tree in your software of choice like Rootsmagic or Family Tree Maker. You’re in contact with some people via the Internet about different people and generations in your tree. You find it annoying that you need to type the information into emails and message posts all the time. Plus, when you update the info, the posting is still old. What do you do?

Setting up your family tree onto your own hosted website isn’t very difficult today. There are tons of hosts out there now that are extremely cheap compared to few years ago. For example, my host, Dreamhost, gives you more space and bandwidth than you’d ever need for like $9.95 a month (depending on how much you pay at a time.)

There are a few options out there to host your own family tree website. I’m currently using The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding for my family tree hosting. I had used a free, open-source program before, but it had some issues with my current host so I looked for something else. TNGGS has worked wonderfully for me and it’s very powerful and customizable.

Most Linux-based hosts have all of the items you need to run TNGGS. MySQL and PHP are almost standards in web hosting. A Windows-based host may have these capabilities, also, but your mileage may vary.

The only caveat to using TNGGS is that it’s not free, but I wouldn’t hold that against it. The developer, Darrin Lythgoe, has put a lot of work into it and has answered any questions that I’ve sent to him. I’ve also received free updates since I purchased my original copy.

There are other options such as Ancestry’s online tree and, etc but you don’t have a ton of control over these. The pro for them is that you can search and connect to other people’s trees, which I do also. For example, at Ancestry I wanted to update my online tree with some new information I had. Unfortunately, if I would do this than I would lose all of the items (census, records, etc) I have connected to my family tree.

Now when you need to put some information into an email or a message posting, you can just paste in a URL. The person on the other end can just visit your online tree and see the latest info. Or, if you enable the option, they can log in to your site and add their own info or edits.

Feel free to email me about my experience with TNGGS or stop over at the official site and take a look. I definitely recommend it. I can also help you set it up or answer any questions about hosting, etc. I have a bit of experience.

*This is just a personal opinion. TNGGS has in no way, shape, or form paid for my review.