Sunday, May 17, 2015

May 2015 "Show and Tell" A Huge Success

In May 2015 those attending the TriCity Genealogical Society Meeting enjoyed a Show and Tell. Interaction provided a social aspect to exchanging research success stories and encouraging fresh ideas.

Tables were made available along the windowed wall and in the back of the Captain’s Table restaurant at the Clover Island Inn. These tables were soon filled with poster board displays, books, artifacts, photographs, and much more. After dinner and a quick Business Meeting the Program Chairperson, Barbara Christensen, explained that the only rule for the evening was that everyone had to get up from their chair and look at what had been put on display. Within minutes the room was full of enthusiastic conversation.

One of the most challenging aspects of a Show and Tell is how to focus research to emphasize one topic to share with a group. It was fascinating to see the variety of this focus from various members. One member built a family tree of the earliest known photograph of each of their ancestors. Another member focused on their lineage of military history. Yet another member proved an interesting point in history showing that their ancestor was an esteemed religious leader yet treated his slaves as property. Cherished artifacts, interesting reference material, and published works were also on display.
Comments from those that attended the meeting tell the story from their personal perspective. Dorothy Stamper McGhan shared, “This was a good meeting last night and I enjoyed it very much.  I feel I have met new friends.” Sandra Meacham Floberg won the big prize of the raffle and posted this on Facebook, “I want to thank the generous donor of the WSGS Conference Package which consisted of the conference registration fee and a credit card toward expenses. I won all of that for just $1! You could have been the winner if you had attended the TCGS meeting last night. It was an enjoyable evening of sharing some of our family histories and learning about current social media. If you didn't attend you missed a great time!”

The evening finally came to an end with several requests to make the Show and Tell an annual event. Barbara Christensen smiled, realizing that the evening had been a huge success and acknowledged that this would not be the last Show and Tell for the TriCity Genealogical Society.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Archived Document Contest April Winner Announced

The TriCity Genealogical Society’s Archived Document Contest began April 1. There were a total of six entries during the month. Facebook readers stood by with anticipation as entries were made from individuals who had found wonderful family gems off line. Four of the entries posted during the month were received from family members, one from a microfilm at the Family History Library, and another one by making a telephone call to the National Archives Branch in Boston.

Flavor of life unfolded before our eyes as we learned that succulent details of ancestors’ lives were available, but not in huge databases. We got to enjoy pages from a personal journal, a holiday card with an important announcement, and an article written by an 11 year old boy that was published in a national magazine. The information shared in these artifacts helped the researchers enjoy a more personal understanding of their ancestor.

We also got to enjoy the more standardized genealogical finds like naturalization declarations, citizenship applications, and newspaper clippings. The ones shared during the contest though were not digitized. Many times the researcher had to work a little harder to obtain the information they were seeking, but the rewards were well worth the exploration.

If the results from this month’s contest were going to recommend the repository with the best results, family members would win. This should encourage all of us to seek information from our own family member repositories. This contest however is for the best submitted document that was obtained in any fashion other than the Internet.

Our winner for the month of April is Margie Stein Beldin. The final step in Margie’s long adventure in obtaining the Naturalization Declaration of her 2nd Great Grandfather was a phone call to the National Archives Branch in Boston. Margie wins a one year Premium Membership to Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. You can get more information about this prize by going to

Below is what Margie submitted about her amazing search for information and how she was able to obtain results.

More than 15 years ago, I found the naturalization papers for my Irish gr gr grandfather, Frances McCue. However, it was impossible to decipher the name of the county he came from. I knew little about Irish research except that you had to know at least the county to begin researching in Ireland.
In 2001, I attended my first national conference, NGS-Portland. Wanting to know more about Irish research, I attended several presentations by Irish genealogists. Kyle Betit was one of them. I explained to him my dilemma and he offered to look at the naturalization document to see if he could decipher the place.
Before I turned to Kyle, however, I decided to try again on my own. The naturalization papers did show that Francis had filed his Declaration of Intent 24 June 1851. In 2002, I went to Boston for the first time and met a cousin, Patricia McHugh, who wanted to help me search for our Irish ancestor. She and I drove to Waltham to NARA-Boston to look through the books ourselves. However, we met with disappointment when we found a gap in the documents surrounding the time Francis would have filed his declaration. We left frustrated.
I then turned to Kyle who tried to read the county but could not decipher it. Pat even took a copy of the naturalization paper to Ireland on vacation. People there said the place had to be Lahinch. The problem was, Lahinch is not a county but a town. I didn’t buy that explanation at all.
In 2012, I was reading the Berkshire Genealogist, a publication of the Berkshire Family History Association. Their local librarian wrote about locating naturalization records. This led me to try once again to find the declaration of intent. I sent an email to NARA-Boston with a copy of what I did have and an explanation about not finding the declaration back in 2002.
Within days of my email I received the following email: “The declaration of intent for Francis McHugh has been located. We can provide a copy of the record for a fee of $7.50 per record...” Needless to say, I was on the phone in minutes reading them my credit card number. Within a few days, I received the declaration in the mail and there, in bold, legible handwriting, it said “County Leitrim, Ireland”. It was time to do the genealogy Happy Dance!

It only took 12 years+ and I still do not know the exact birth place of Francis McCue or if any of his family survived the famine besides him, but I’m one step closer. And, lucky for me, County Leitrim is one of the smaller counties.”