My blog has been changed to make it more appealing for those who have New England ancestors and want to see the area through photos. Things I’ll include are typical white New England churches, libraries showing their genealogical collection, historical societies, cemeteries, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history.

For four years I’ve blogged mostly about my personal genealogy in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. I still will, can’t forget my own roots.

Please check out the labels on the right side for articles. The header tabs at the top are a work in progress.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

10 Things I Wished I Knew When I Started My Blog

Blog header for my blog.
In October, I will be celebrating my seventh year of blogging, so I decided this was a good time to share the 10 Things I Wished I Knew When I Started My Blog. At that time, I knew very little about publishing a blog (blogging was relatively new to the genealogy world), and I knew none of the items below.

My blog hasn't changed much since the day I started. A few minor things have been though. I replaced my original header picture (above) to replace a photo I took in the dead of winter, of an old cemetery in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. I now include other topics, not pertaining to genealogy and make an extra effort to include my photographs.

I wish I had learned these 10 topics during my early writing days, but I didn't. If I had known a few of these things, they wouldn't be a major project now. The items are in no particular order.

1. I should have started labeling each blog, with major content or subject words. The words, known as search words are used for me and readers to locate my blog topics, like: Revolutionary War, Surname: Smith; Location: New York; Cemeteries; DAR; Research Tips and so forth. The labels are shown at the bottom of each post, and on the label bar at the right side of each blog.

2.  I should have kept a list of all blogs written, with date and title. I have written over 1230 posts and it's difficult to remember what was written. To use search words (as mentioned above), takes a while and sometimes those words aren't the ones I initially typed. I still don't have a list, but if I ever do make one, it would be on excel and it would help me immensely.

3.  I wish I knew about checking all links I've put in the posts to see if they are still active. I didn't begin doing this until rather recently, and after seven years, many old addresses have disappeared. They need to be corrected or deleted.

4.  I try hard to reply to all comments. I know how I feel if somebody doesn't respond to my comments, so I do my best to respond to any I receive. In the earlier years, I didn't do this, and that was pretty inconsiderate. I clearly remember the ones who sent me messages when I first began. It was a nice feeling. With so many blogs available to read, readers can move on to other blogs, they don't have to deal with an ungrateful writer. If your post is ever selected to be on a Best of the Week list, you best thank that blogger. Many readers will take notice if you do or don't.

5.  Sourcing your facts in a blog is as important as it is in your genealogy. I didn't know this in the beginning of my writing days, nor did I know it 27 years ago when I began doing genealogy  (then, most people didn't source). If your post has facts, you need to go a step beyond.  Thanks to the many professional bloggers, webinars, seminars and genealogy magazine writers who stress the importance of sources, most genealogy bloggers are now sharing where their information came from. Along with sources for facts we need to give credit for all photos and images we use.

6.  I should have spent more time preparing each post. Some of my early posts have major problems. They aren't consistent with font and size and some are bold. When I come across them, I take the bold feature off, make the size normal in Veranda style. If you are using a program with very small print and light font, such as a grey, I won't read your post. We all like to read something that's easy on our eyes.

7. I learned that people will have opinions on what to do in order to have a great blog. Well, some ideas are great, and others, I don't quite believe. For example, I read that all blogs should be "short and sweet." Well, I've read some great stories that are quite long, and some are continued and I had no problem reading them. Since then, I've written a three-part story which seemed quite popular. Just your own judgement and do what you want to do.

8.  I wished I knew about some of the sites that help bloggers with hints and tips, such as the free Problogger or the hundreds of informational blogs out there to help all writers. I didn't know about these sites until four years ago. There are thousands of bloggers, and we all need a little help in the beginning.

9. When I discovered I didn't need to write almost every day, I felt freer because I wasn't tied to my computer, and my readers were probably happy because they didn't need to spend their time reading yet another blog. If you subscribe to 100 blogs, I doubt you would want to read 100 of them a day. On a personal note, I wrote 260 posts in 2010 (my first full year) and 94 in 2015. This post is my 43rd one for 2016. It isn't because I don't have enough material to share, it's because I don't feel it's necessary to share everything, nor do I want to spend the time, since some can take between 2-4 hours or more, if I need to drive somewhere to take photos.

10.  I learned that my blog is not about page-views (the number of hits, that is, people looking at your post). In my first few months, I spent every day checking those figures and wondered who was reading what I was writing. For most of that time, I worried about what the readers thought, and who they were. Months and years later, I discovered those figures don't always represent real people. The stat figures are not an indicator of how good or bad my blog is and the same goes for others.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Little Genealogy, Beautiful Flowers, Old House, Antiques..Need More?

Tree taken last year, in front
of the House, see last
As with almost all my blog posts, I try to incorporate a little genealogy, showcase beautiful flowers or scenery, an old house, collectibles and/or antiques into it. In this post, I finally get to do everything. Fortunately, the Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover, MA is rather close to where I live and I've been visiting the property for a good 9-10 years. We go to walk around the grounds, smell the fresh air, and view all the gardens.
However, I always wondered what was in the house, and several times when I inquired about it, I was told they didn't have enough volunteers to act as docents. This year, I got a notice that they were having a tour of the house. (I appeared there bright and early on June 21st for the first tour, and it didn't disappoint. I had NO idea it was even furnished! Photos are below. The post will also show the formal rose garden, a perennial garden (this was the best growing season ever), the cutting garden from beginning to end, and a large French garden.

The Stevens-Coolidge Place
139 Andover Street
North Andover, MA 

The house as shown from various views from the front, side and back.
The house is called a Place, but I like to call it an Estate, since there are 91 acres. Helen Stevens married John Coolidge in 1909 and inherited this property, known as Ashdale Farm in 1914. They lived here in the summer until John Coolidge died in 1936. She remained spending summers here until her death in 1962 and she bequeathed the estate to The Trustees of Reservations, and they changed the name to Stevens-Coolidge Place. Note: Since I have quite a few ancestors and relatives from this area, I hope to do their genealogy to see if there is a connection to mine.

 The Rose Garden

Ashdale Farm. Construction of Rose Garden, man working on right.
The photo above was obtained from:
This work is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND).

Early spring, not much is in bloom, but the lilacs are!

The Perennial Garden photos below.
I usually go three times during mid-late spring. The first flowers that I go nuts over are the oriental poppies and purple iris.

Front entrance.
On the first floor we walked through several sitting rooms, a den, and a formal dining room, all filled with family antiques. (I've enlarged the photos, so you can see the items.)

Photo of the couple on Mr. Coolidge's desk, seen below.

A door opens to a patio overlooking the Perennial Garden.

Genealogy on the wall! Mr. John Gardner Coolidge was related to Thomas Jefferson. (Thomas Jefferson was his great-great grandfather). I was the only one who got excited and took the photos. He was also the nephew of Isabella Stewart Gardner.

The Cutting Garden, spring and late summer.

The French Garden
In the Spring there are hundreds of pink and white Peonies.

Below are some late blooming flowers in the French Garden.

Last year, 2015,  photo.

Brochure with a map of the property.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Each Example is Different, and None Were Done on Computers

For many of us, we received a baby book with the new family tree filled out by a parent. This one of mine was filled out in full with all names, but unfortunately there are two small errors, and no dates nor locations. I received this book when I got married, I didn't think about these people until I began working at the DAR in Washington and decided to join as a member. Using this was my first source, until I discovered that my mother and great-grandmother had been members of the DAR.

I will show five examples of genealogy charts, all are quite different, and you might have the same luck if you just spread the news to your family members that you are big into genealogy, and ask if they have charts. Also, it would be a smart move to inquire at libraries where your family or ancestor lived as well as call, write or go online to see what the area Colleges, Historical Societies or any Repository has. Another suggestion is to ask other genealogists, especially if you belong to groups on facebook.

Since my old baby tree, I've been given several very detailed charts (typed and hand written) by family members and a stranger. In addition, I located a typed manuscript of over 200 pages. It appears that several of my ancestors were into genealogy. When I received these, I pretty much copied the data into my software. None of the charts had sources, but the manuscript did. The information came from an architect, a doctor, an archivist, a now Certified Genealogist and a lawyer, so I was very lucky...but remember they didn't source. I had lots of work to do because of that.

As you'll see, each example is different, and none were done on computers. I'll show them in the order that I received and include a brief description.

1. Several months after working at the DAR, a staff genealogist who was helping me with my line, surprised me with a nine-generation lineage chart, and more information as a gift. I wrote about this in a blog, seen HERE. I was in shock. You probably can't see it, but I didn't even know my grandfather's marriage or death date.
9 generation chart

2. Two years later, I received a rolled up sheet, measuring 30" x 43" from my uncle, containing our genealogy. It was based on my grandfather's information done in 1957. This was a total surprise. There was a notation that he (uncle) updated a few things (new births, deaths and marriages). What I liked were the 13 stars indicating military service. However, as shown below, it was very hard to follow the lines, and there were some errors.
Full chart spread across the bed.

3. Ten years after I began my research, I went to Canada to get copies of the records my archivist cousin donated to a Historical Society. Below are a few examples. The first is a partial descendant report beginning with my fifth great-grandfather. The second report is the first page of six showing the family tree.

4. A year later, I received a huge package of information from a distant cousin, I believe he was ending his research, but I don't believe he actually did this work. Below are three very large sheets, (the top, middle and bottom, when put together would make an enormous page), showing the descendants of Hendrick Schrambling. A descendant, Henry Scrambling was my Revolutionary War Patriot, and I was obsessed with this line, even before I received this gift. The family arrived in New York ca. 1710 and I had an easy time tracing the lines until the later years when the family changed their spelling to Scramlin and other variations, so these sheets helped immensely.

5. The pages below are from a manuscript my great-great grandfather wrote. It is located at the New England Historic Genealogical Society's library. By the time I discovered this, most my Poole line had been completed by me, because many resources and sources are plentiful in Massachusetts. I still have not read all the pages and I know there are things I'll need to add, after I check for sources. My post about my discovery is shown HERE and the first 25 pages shown HERE. I purposely left the pages below because of the "tabular" chart, parts of a will and transcript from a cemetery stone, so they can be read.

manuscript is over 200 pages, and includes transcribed wills and cemetery tombstones.