Monday, May 18, 2009

Surname Troubles For Future Genealogists

These days, the surname that you recieve isn't so cookie cutter as it used to be.  With our diverse society in the U.S the way we pass down surnames has changed.  While this change adds some flavor to our culture, I can only imagine how much of a headache it will be for future genealogists.

Giving Baby Mom's Last Name
This one certainly isn't too uncommon, especially if the parents aren't married when baby is born.  I can speak from experience on this one since I have my mom's last name.  My mom is so proud of her last name that she knew once she was pregnant that I was going to recieve her name.  Plus, my parents weren't married when I was born.

Combining Husband and Wife's Name to Create New Name
A new trend that is beginning to emerge when a couple gets married is combining the husband and wife's name to create an entirely new name.  Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaragosa and his wife did this when they married to create the name "Villaragosa".

The Hyphened Name
Popular for wives and babies alike, this is a more common approach to last names.  When a couple gets married but a wife doesn't want to completely lose her last name, sometimes the wife will use a hyphen to make her husband's surname and her surname into one.  A couple also sometimes does this with baby - giving baby both parents' last names.

Can you imagine, in a 100-200 years how difficult it will be for genealogists to figure out what the last name is!?  Almost makes me happy that I am researching now and not later!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Family Stories: Only Half Truths

Since I've began genealogy, I've been told of the story of my great great grandparents coming to America.  Nearly everyone I talked to was willing to share the story.  They also provided me with pictures and letters that made the story come alive.

The story always goes the same: Daniel and his wife, Elizabeth wanted to give their children a better life.  They left Wales, boarded a ship, and arrived in Seattle only two days before the The Great Seattle Fire of 1889.  The family then traveled to Black Diamond, Washington and settled there.  They raised the family there and became very involved in the town and it's happenings.

Eventually, the family bought a home in Seattle, Washington.  The home is still in my family today and serves as a central hub for the family.  The house is two stories, with one bedroom downstairs and three bedrooms upstairs.  The interesting thing about the three upstairs bedrooms is that you must travel through the first one to get to the next and travel through the second one to get to the third.  There is no hallway upstairs.  In the entire house, there is only one bathroom that still only has a bathtub - no shower.  My Great Aunt, who has owned the house for the majority of her life, refuses to update it much.  The cabinets in the kitchen are the original.  The deck is mostly the original (they had to replace some of it after it became too damaged).  The stairs that lead up to the house are made from concrete.  This home means the world to my Great Aunt, because to her, it connects her with her past, present, and future.

So it isn't a suprise that this story and this particular branch of my family tree is so close to me.  As I began to investigate and look at all of the sides of the story I became stuck: Everything I read and heard said that the family traveled from Wales and ended up in Seattle.  I made the mistake of assuming that they went straight from Wales to Seattle, Washington.

I failed to think things through - and I just couldn't figure out why I was so confused.  I finally figured out that it is practically impossible for someone to travel from Wales to Seattle in 1889.  I needed to stop restricting my search, and start expanding it.

So I did just that.  But I also knew that there were so many ports that they could've landed on on the Eastern Coasts of the U.S. and Canada that it became overwhelming.  And then came the question of how they travelled to Seattle once they landed in North America.

Luckily, thanks to's Hints (the little green leaves you see next to a name in your family tree), I found the passenger list that shows them arriving in Quebec, Canada in 1889.

I have yet to figure out how or confirm exactly when they came to Seattle - but I know that I am now on the right track because I have opened up my search and stopped restricting myself!

If you open up your research and expand your searches, you might be suprised where you find your ancestors!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day has always been a day of mixed feelings in my family. This day was full of brunch, presents, BBQs, fun, and a dash of drama.

On my mom's side, there are a ton of women. My Grandmother's generation was 6 girls and one boy. While my Grandma added some boys to the family by having three boys and three girls, the rest of her siblings didn't help much. My mom has five cousins that are girls and two cousins that are boys. My generation only added to the female population: six girls and two boys.

Needless to say, there are lots of women that we have to pay tribute to on Mother's Day. Between all the Aunts, Moms, Grandmas, and Great Aunts - that is a lot of cards!

So in my family, we made it simple. The kids made brunch for all of the women. Unfortunately, for my childhood in Washington, I was the only kid.

Despite offers of help from other family members, my mom always insisted that I, being the kid, cook the brunch because, afterall I "come from a family of tough ladies who work hard, move ahead, break social rules, and always seem to have dinner on the table by six!".

So with an apron that was far too big for me wrapped around my waist and a stool in front of the stovestop, I cooked breakfast. My mom would help me flip the bacon and sausage (Yes, it was required that we have both), mix the waffle batter and pour it onto the waffle iron, and make the fruit salad.

The fruit salad always ended up a mishappen mess that was barely touched once it was placed on the table. The fruit was cut by me and was in a variety of shapes and sizes. I was not comfortable with a knife yet, so I insisted on cutting with a plastic knife, leaving the juice from the fruit to go all over the cutting board. I would finally end up pulling or ripping peices of fruit apart and in the end, the fruit salad looked far from appealing.

So however you are honoring the special women in your family - Happy Mother's Day

Saturday, May 2, 2009

SNGF: Top 10 Genealogy Sites

It's Saturday Night - so that means it's time for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun thanks to Randy over at Genea-Musings.  This week it is all about our top ten genealogy websites.

So, in order from my favorite to my least favorite, here are my top ten genealogy websites:
  1. - Its a great website with lots of content
  2. - I love their newspaper collection and the Footnote Pages!
  3. - Networking with other genealogists.  Need I say more?
  4. - Awesome site with some good databases
  5. - They've got a great chatroom with lots of helpful people and great message boards.
  6. - Great place to network and find links to awesome blog posts.
  7. - Databases
  8. - I'm slowly but surely learning to love this website.
  9. - Great state and county websites
  10. - The best organized list of links for genealogy

Friday, May 1, 2009

Data Backup Day

Are you backing your data up?

Recently, I've added a new part to my backup process - I now use SkyDrive. For those of you not familiar with SkyDrive, it is Windows' Online Storage Area. They provide free storage for up to 25GB.

The bad part is that you have to upload everything file by file. But - it's free, so what do you expect?

For me, it is just nice to know that my genealogy is in yet another place, so that if disaster ever strikes I have lots of options.

Anyway - remember to back your data up today in order to prevent the loss of all your hard work!