Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shoebox App for


Let me start by saying I'm not a big fan of frivolous apps.  Who needs one more toy? Not me!

When I heard about the newer Shoebox app for I was, as always, hesitant to try it.  Well, trying is believing What was I waiting for?  Why didn't I know about this sooner?  and Yes!  Finally a useful app that makes my genealogy life soooo much easier.

If you haven't tried it or aren't sure what I'm raving about here it goes.  

The Shoebox app allows you to take a photograph of an object and crop, title and describe, set a location, and tag or tie it to someone in your family tree.  Big deal you say? Well hold on, once you've done all of the aforementioned things to the object and then save it.  The image is immediately uploaded to that persons profile page in your tree.  From there you can set the image as the primary photo for the person it's attached to.  Forget something or want to edit the description after it's uploaded? You can do that too.

How quick is this app?

I recently spent about 2 hours on a Sunday afternoon uploading documents and photos.  I was amazed when I realized that I had uploaded about 70 images in that time frame.  I am now addicted!  I would upload and then check to see if the photo was there and how I wanted to set the image (primary photo or not.)  It worked beautifully every time. And now I have photos for many more of my ancestors that can also be seen by others who are searching.  If others are seeing the images, they're making connections to me and my tree is continuing to grow.

What's next?

The findagrave app.  It's now available for apple, but I'm awaiting the android version.  With this app cemetery visitors should be able to snap a photo of a grave site and immediately upload it to with the GPS coordinates.  Imagine taking a detour some Sunday afternoon into a cemetery you have been meaning to visit.  The cemetery turns out to be enormously overwhelming and no one is available to help you locate a grave.  Fortunately for you, another visitor has already uploaded the gravestone/grave site locations to and all you have to do is access the website and navigate to the location in order to find success. When I'm in a cemetery I always try to take a few extra pictures in order to post them for others.  This app will make documenting an entire cemetery very doable in a short period of time.  I can't wait to get started!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Is Everyone Irish on St. Patty's Day?

I'm not sure about that, but I know I'm Irish everyday!

I thought on this St. Patty's Day I'd pay tribute to those Irish ancestors who left the only home and family they knew, braved the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, and landed on the soil of the place that was supposed to bring a new beginning and better life.  America is the place where anything is possible.....

Unfortunately for me, I don't have any first hand family accounts of what it was like for my Irish ancestors to make their journeys onto American soil, but we can learn a bit of the harsh reality from the account of one Irish immigrant, William Smith.  Smith's story* was published in 1850, a few short years after he sails from Liverpool, England to New York as many of the Irish did in those days. His anxiety-filled account spans only 29 pages in length, but the glimpse he recounts of his heart wrenching tale of immigration makes me proud to descend from a people with such a strong will to succeed.

Smith's tale begins as he sets sail on "Friday, November 26, 1847, leaving behind his wife and child, an aged father, three affectionate sisters, and a few very close friends."  Smith wants for a better life writing, "For several years I had vainly endeavored to raise myself from the state of poverty and the constant degradation which the small remuneration I received for my labors forced me into.  If, in the free and happy land to which I was going, my last and only hope should be destroyed, my wife and child would suffer by my absence."

The horror of battling raging seas is in part recounted on the following two pages from the book.

William Smith, “An Emigrant’s Narrative; or a Voice from the Steerage,” page 7

 William Smith, “An Emigrant’s Narrative; or a Voice from the Steerage,” page 8

Ships Fever

Ragging seas are not the only dangers Smith encounters during his journey.  He tells the gruesome tale of immigrants dying horrible deaths after contracting ship's fever.  The illness, all to often, resulted in the death of passengers including the captain of the India, the ship they were sailing on.  Smith tells of how the bodies are buried at sea.

William Smith, “An Emigrant’s Narrative; or a Voice from the Steerage,” page 12


Following the scores of passengers contracting and dying from Ship's Fever, many survivors come down with dysentery.  Smith himself becomes ill from both sicknesses.  Upon the belief he is succumbing to the fever, Smith locates the only other passenger from his home town.  Smith asks the man to contact his wife on the occasion of his death and to pass on his few belongings and a message.  Fortunately for Smith, there is no need for anyone to deliver such a horrid announcement.  Miraculously,  Smith survives.  

Deplorable hospital treatment

Eight weeks after England's shore disappeared out of sight, Smith and the surviving passengers and crew of the India step foot on American soil.  Smith was told he would be taken to the Staten Island Hospital to receive treatment and regain his health.  The statement was partially true.  Smith went to the hospital, but the treatment he received was far from caring and restorative.  He tells of the freezing conditions, after all this was winter in New York.  Immigrant patients were punished if they attempted to warm themselves by a fire. He says the treatment he received was brutalizing and the bedding felt like laying on straw. Two weeks after being admitted, Smith was strong enough to be released from the hospital. With only a few shillings in his pocket (enough money to last a week,) he set out in New York City to make his way in his new "free and happy country."

The new world is not so welcoming

I can not even imagine trying to make your way in a place where you know no one, have very little money, and have no where to stay.  But some how Smith was able to come across people who were willing to help him.  Some of the people he came across in the first days of his new life had an understandable fear of anyone who had ship's fever. Another lesson of discrimination Smith has to learn.  People did not seem to care that it had been weeks since Smith was ill, but his appearance must have given it away.  Regardless of the initial fear of Smith's previous illness he manages to come in contact with a man who will eventually give him shelter, a hearty meal, and the aid he needs to begin work.

Those left behind

After ten weeks from England's shore Smith is able to write his wife and relate the tale of stormy seas, illness and death, deplorable hospital treatment and his new life.  Smith is unaware when he writes his letter that the man whom he asked to contact his wife upon his death had assumed he had most likely died in the hospital. The fellow shipmate relayed a message to his own wife in Ireland and soon word spread of Smith's untimely death.  So you can image that upon receiving the letter from America, Smith's wife can't bear to bring herself to read it.  She then passes the letter onto Smith's father who has the honor or breaking the letter's seal and reading Smith's ghostly words aloud to the family.  The message of life Smith had sent back to his family in Ireland must have been some of the most beautiful words his family had ever heard.

In honor of William Smith and all of our Irish immigrant ancestors, I would like to say thank you. I think of all of you often, and admire your fighting spirit.

Here's to our Irish immigrants and their families: 
the Carsons, the Whites, the Hannas, the Byrnes
the Conleys, the Reilys, the Greens, the McArdles, the Rileys, and the Millers

*William Smith, “An Emigrant’s Narrative; or a Voice from the Steerage, published by the author 1850.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How About Those Skeletons?

Unearthing Skeletons

Unearthing those skeletons is always interesting whether they are my own or those belonging to a client.  Aren't those skeleton's stories what make our family history come alive?  OK, maybe you disagree.  They tend to shake up our tree, make us ponder where did we really come from, and occasionally scare us. Well then, what should we do with those skeletons? Leave them buried? Pretend we never uncovered their secrets? Well, maybe we should celebrate them, OK maybe not the mass murderers, but those who just choose the wrong road when coming to the fork in it.

Recently, I was listening to (I believe) one of Lisa Louise Cooke's* podcasts where she addressed this issue. The advice offered by Lisa Louise was.....the living come first.  I'd have to agree.  Maybe after digging up juicy information about your long-lost-gun-slinging-bank-robbing-womanizing great-great uncle once removed, and knowing full well that Grandma would cringe at the thought of airing dirty laundry, it may not be sage advice to immediately run to the nearest computer to post this information for all to see.  Or if you find yourself immediately compelled to share, as we are all too ready to do in today's world -  leave out a few gory details for Grandma's sake.  We all want Grandma to be happy in her last years don't we? Of course we do!  Well then, how do we present this new found information without making Grandma want to write us out of her will?

How about trying this........

substituting desperado for bank robber - conjures up imagery of the famous Eagles song
substituting moonlighter for thief - no one will suspect the subject is not working a second job
substituting groggy for someone who drinks a little too much - indicates someone is very tired, maybe from working hard

OK you get the idea - there are many ways to gently discuss the habits of our skeletons without putting it all out there.  However, keep in mind when deciding whether you should post, discuss, or relay any questionable information ere on the side of caution.  Perhaps you can ask another friend or family member who wouldn't be greatly effected by the new information.  This accomplishes too things. One, allows you to relate your information and two, use the person as a sounding board to gauge their reaction and gain their opinion.

The choices we make can go along way......

A few years ago someone kindly offered to go to a library local to her to look up an obituary for me.  She was able to find the obituary and a story to go along with the obituary.  The reason for the story was that my third great grandfather had been killed after being hit by a train while walking along the railroad tracks.  He was 82 years old.  The woman did not tell me this information because she realized that it may upset me. Instead she sent me the paperwork and allowed me to read it for myself. After discovering this information she had a choice to make.  She could have emailed me immediately with all the gory details and risked upsetting me or she could have done the correct thing which was to gently allow me to discover the reason why my third great grandfather had passed.  I appreciated her thoughtfulness.  Just because we find information does not mean others will be as excited to know every last detail.

Embrace you skeletons....

Sometimes they're embarrassing, silly, uneducated, crazy, controversial, far-from-traditional, or down right nasty, but they are ours.  We did not create them and we are not responsible for them. So why should we feel they are a reflection on us?  Try to find some good in those skeletons and embrace them.  We would not be here if it weren't for them.

(*Lisa Louise Cooke's genealogy gems website is

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Do you flipboard for genealogy???

One android app I have become attached to is my Flipboard app.  

If you're not familiar with flipboard. describes it as
 "a single place to discover, collect and share the news you care about.  Add your favorite social networks, publications and blogs to stay connected to the topics and people closest to you." 

I'm not a big fan of apps and don't have a lot of time to "play" with new technology, but this app is definitely for me and anyone who enjoys reading and learning about new sources of information.  I feel much more connected to the genealogy profession by reading the genealogy articles on my flipboard.  And this one is sooooo easy and useful.

Just choose the types of "magazine articles" you'd like to read about and flipboard pretty much does the rest.  After taking a few minutes to set it up you're ready to flip through the pages and pages and pages (you get the idea) of articles under your chosen topic.  My favorite time to use my flipboard app is on the weekends, in the morning when I'm still waking up.  I can image many times and places when accessing flipboard would be advantageous such as anytime you're wanting to read.  

I love flipboard for introducing me to many different genealogy avenues such as the many genealogy articles on written by professional genealogist, Kimberly Powell,  and Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter written by Dick Eastman, a wonderful blog written by Eastman and full of everything genealogy and then there are the many articles with links to genealogy videos on youtube.  I'm convinced you can sit all day following link after link in these articles.  

So, the next time you're sitting around waiting for the doctor, DMV, or airplane, open up your flipboard app and learn something new.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Overwhelmed? To Say the Least!

I always find it calming and reassuring when I'm feeling overwhelmed or out of control to make a list or design a plan.  Boy, do I need a plan now.  I started reading the Professional Genealogist or more loving known as Progen.  It is basically a textbook with all 654 pages exploding with essential genealogical information.  Being a reference book geek, I can truly say I'm in love with it!  Who wouldn't want guidance, advice, resource lists, how-tos and how-not-tos at their disposal.  My only problem is the more I read (and I'm only on chapter 5) the more I want to do.  Well, you say that's a good thing.  I've been inspired to learn - never a bad thing especially since I'm an educator.  Yes, I guess it's a wonderful predicament, but I'm on overload so much that I've had a few sleepless nights.  One of those sleepless nights, 2:30AM to be exact, I was reading genealogy articles on my cell phone and learned about a Progen study group ( available to those who want to learn more and be evaluated by our peers.  I was in, they had me at....this will help you with your certification portfolio, but it lasts for 19 months and I want to take the class at Boston U. in the spring and then apply for the certification and work full time - no time!
So now my new dilemma, how do I make more time.  If I could do that I could bottle it and sell it, but I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon.

I did sign up to attend an day at a local historical society.  I'm very excited to spend the day discussing the topic I'm most passionate about.  It should be a great day, but still six weeks away.  I guess for now, I'll keep delving into Progen, write notes on my sticky pads, and start figuring out where I should go next.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Certification Journey Begins

Let me start this blog post by saying that I am not new to genealogy.  I have about twelve years or so experience in genealogical research.  I have never been paid to work for a genealogical client, although I would love to turn professional.  I have taught a couple small genealogy classes, basically helping seniors with where to locate resources.  I would love to teach a subject I am passionate about.  I have never attended a genealogical conference, but plan to do so as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

To the Heart of the Matter

Ok, So I've decided to take on a new and exciting challenge in the world of genealogy - becoming a certified professional genealogist!  I don't know if I'm more excited or scared out of my mind.  No matter which it is it's definitely overwhelming and intimidating.  I wanted to document my journey for reasons unknown, but I think having an outlet for my thoughts would some how help to keep them from letting in too much doubt as to whether I should take this on or not.  So here I go.................

Step one. I ordered a copy of Professional Genealogy by Elizabeth Shown Mills.  Everything I've read points me in this direction for a starting point.
Step two. I've started scouring the BGC (Board of Certified Genealogists) website for any and all help/suggestions I can find.
Step three.  Read the preliminary application and certification application
Step four. Watch the hour long "Measuring up Against the Standards" video and take notes.
Step fiveGather a list of journals and books from the suggested reading list on the BCG website.
Step six. Get nervous and second guess myself AGAIN!
Step seven. Go to BCG website and listen to the audio recordings of board certified genealogists explaining why they choose to become certified. Feel better about my decision!
Step eight. Go to the skill building page on the BCG website and start downloading the articles they've linked.
Step nine.  Read the articles and use my analysis skills to re-examine some of the documents I have photo copied (i.e. wills and deeds.)

On My Way

These nine steps will get me on my way.  I will be gaining  membership into the APG (Association of Professional Genealogists.) In April, I will be enrolling in the online Genealogical Research class Boston University is running.  Following completion of the class, I plan to start the year long portfolio process to gain a professional genealogical certification. Wish me good fortune!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Matthias Ried on the Doomed Schooner Nora

Another mystery has been uncovered regarding the Ried family.  This one surrrounds the death of  Matthias of Conshohocken.  I have had his death date and obituary for a while now, but could never figure out why he had died in Anglesea NJ, now North Wildwood.  I surmized that he most likely died while on a day trip to the shore either from drowning or possibly a heart attack.  I never thought I'd find that he was a victim of one of the biggest tragedies of the day.

The day was July 29th 1906 and it began when Matthias took a train to the Jersey Shore for a Sunday of fishing.  This was a popular outting for men from the Philadelphia area.  However, on this Sunday he would have been better to stay in Conshohocken.  The crew and passengers (33 total) set out on a beautiful Sunday morning to a popular fishing spot off the coast.  About noon the weather began to change and the captain decided to bring the schooner in early.  At about one o'clock, the schooner traveled over Hereford  Bar, which was said to be unavoidable.
From the annual report of the United States Life-Saving Service

 "In the words of a survivor describing the accident, the sloop while passing over the bar " suddenly veered, swung around, wallowed for a moment in the trough of the sea, then turned completely over, snapping off her mast like a pipe stem."

At about 1:15PM, H. S. Ludlam, of Hereford Inlet Station was alerted to the wreck.  Within ten minutes he had a rescue boat in the water and was on the way to the wreck.  Along the way, he aided men who were swimming for shore.  Unfortunately, not all the men could be saved some being trapped beneath the Nora.  The rescue was also hampered by the rough seas.  Not long in the day after the tradegy of the Nora occured, another boat, the Alva B., was coming into shore on the same path and it too capsized, sadly another life was lost in that wreck.


Below is a postcard that was printed in rememberance of the tradegy of the Nora

The postcard reads:
"Beaching and turning the wreck of "Nora" Anglesea, N. J. (Capt Herbert Shivers) which was capsized by a heavy sea while crossing Hereford Bar on her way shoreward from the fishing banks Sunday July 29th, 1906.  She carried thirty-two passengers nine of whom were drowned, the remaining number being saved by the strenuous and heroic efforts of Capt S. H. Ludlam  of the U.S. Life Saving Station and his volunteer crew."
 The tradegy of July 29, 1906 was front page news in newspapers across the country.  And in a day where communication was not instantaneous, reporters claimed deaths of all different numbers and at least one even indicated that there were sharks at the scene.  Unfortunately, Matthias Ried's name was not listed among the dead in the stories I have seen.  There is an "unknown man" listed, I believe this is Matthias.  His name does appear in the account from the United States Life-Saving Service's annual report.  You can read the entire report at Once on the webpage just scroll down to the report from July 29, 1906.

I have a little more research to do on this tragedy and will follow up this post when more information is found.