Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tech Tuesday - The Netbook

This post is a result from the blogging prompts offered over at geneabloggers. Tech Tuesday is for new technology or web offerings that we have found that may help other family historians. Although my post is not about a new technology, it is fairly new to me and I felt I needed to pass on my thoughts on a netbook computer.

netbookI have a Toshiba netbook and I love it. I was a little leery of the netbooks at first because they are so small with tiny little screens and keyboards. I didn’t think my fat fingers would be able to type on this thing. I was also a little hesitant because they just don’t have the power of a regular laptop and I am a guy so I need more POWER!! I carried around a Sony Vaio laptop for a long time and it was just too heavy and I always had to be on the look out for an outlet because the battery just didn’t last long enough for some serious research trips.

I really looked at how I use my laptop and figured out that 90% of the time it is for schoolwork or my family history when I am out doing research or just not near my desktop monster machine (remember, me man – need power).  So I did my research on these netbook things and discovered they are generally just made for surfing the web and basic word processing type stuff – just what I needed. And then I looked at the battery life they get and I was sold! Anywhere from 6-9 hours of battery life depending on the brand you get. Say goodbye to lugging around that power cord everywhere I go.

So, I went out and paid about $350 for a netbook and I have not regretted it since. It took a little getting used to the smaller keyboard with the keys a little closer together but that is nothing. I love the compactness and the battery life.

I can literally put this in any bag I own and take it with me and it is so light, I hardly notice it. For battery life, I have gone all day long without plugging this thing in. Now, that isn’t typing away all day long non-stop, it is typing away some, surfing the net some, close the lid when not using it. I am very impressed with the battery life.

The main reason for buying this was for school work. My classes are 100% online so this is perfect. furthermore, once I started using it I thought why don’t I just install my Legacy Family Tree software and see how this thing does. It works like a charm and since my data is stored on Dropbox, I can update my data on this thing and then it is all synced up with my monster desktop when I get back home.

Final reason for loving my netbook. I bought it before I started this blog and am so glad that I have it. I can pull this out whenever I have a few moments and update a post in draft or start an idea I may have. All my posts are kept on Dropbox also so they are all sync’d up with my desktop also.

Now, with anything, there is always downsides. The only downsides I have found with this netbook is getting used to the smaller screen and keyboard. I got used to them very quickly and now they do not bother me at all. The portability makes up for anything else for what I want it for and the price is perfect – cheaper than an iPad.

So, these are my thoughts on the netbook and I would definitely recommend one to someone who needs or wants a little more portability to their research tools.

I am interested in the opinion of anyone else using a netbook; what are your likes and dislikes, would you recommend to another family historian? Leave your opinions in a comment.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ for that family.


Photo from: Thales Barreto

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

World Teachers Day

teachersToday is World Teachers Day. A day set aside to honor and celebrate teachers world wide. You can read more about it on the website, here.

When was the last time you thanked your teacher or your children’s teacher? Our oldest is in the 2nd grade and we have twins in kindergarten this year. I’m sure my wife has thanked their teachers but I have never gone out of the way to do that, but I think I may have to change that and head over to the school today.

Teachers spent a lot of time with us as we were going through school and now they are doing the same with our children. I was thinking about this the other day while talking with my wife about our children’s teachers. These teachers, at least through the 6th grade or so, spend nearly as much time with our kids as we do. That must make a big impact and be a big influence on their lives. I really didn’t realize how much of an impact teachers make until I started thinking about it. I started kindergarten back in 1975 and I can still name all my teachers through the 6th grade (after that is when I switched teachers every hour for different subjects).

  • Kindergarten – Ms. Saunders
  • 1st Grade – Ms. Nigerian
  • 2nd Grade – Ms. Couts
  • 3rd Grade – Ms. Schaal
  • 4th Grade – Ms. Aikens
  • 5th Grade – Mr. Hulka
  • 6th Grade – Mr. Roland

I’ve been in the Air Force for almost 23 years and I can’t remember the names of the supervisors and trainers from my first few years. It’s been about 30 years since I was in the 6th grade, yet I can remember each one of my teachers up to the grade. I can’t say what impact each of them made on my life but it must have been something to make me remember each one of them. And, I can picture each of them in my mind to where I would know them if they walked by me right now (as long as they didn’t age).

Teachers are generally underappreciated and definitely underpaid for all they do for us each day. So, I would encourage everyone to thank a teacher today, even if you can only send a quick email thank you – I’m sure it would mean a lot to them and they deserve it.

Can you name your grade-school teachers? If so, list them in the comments section.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ up that family.


Photo by: Mike Sansone

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October Objectives–September Recap

Pumpkin_OctoberHappy October! One of my favorite months. I am combining my September recap with the October objectives because last month was not a very productive month as far as family history went. However, I am not disappointed at all because we have a lot going on. We have flag football, soccer, cheerleading, cub scouts, daisies, and the start of school; all of which kept us on the move and very busy. However, I still got a few posts in throughout the month and did get some research completed. All-in-all, it was not a bad month. So, on with September recap:

  1. Get a copy of the church register that shows the baptism of William Van Capen.  (Did not get to this so this gets moved to October)
  2. Write to the Massachusetts churches to see if they have a record of birth for Joseph Lucas. (Did not get to this so this gets moved to October)
  3. Do some initial research into what military records may be available for WWI aviators (William Van Capen). (I actually did start this, in a way. I am hopefully going to be writing an essay on the battle of Blanc Mont during WWI so I have been digging through the National Archives site, among others to see what is out there. But, there is more to do so it is moved to October, also.)
  4. Lay out an initial vacation/genealogy trip centered on Danzig. (Yeah! This was is done. I have a rough outline of the trip)
  5. Store the records in my Lucas files correctly. (I have some old letters and documents laying in files and need to preserved these as best as possible). (Yeah, another one completed. However, as I was doing this, I found a few envelops of documents and photos from my wife’s side that we need to go through)
  6. Solidify a solid backup plan for my genealogy data and all my photos. (I back up now but I’m not happy with my process). (I did a little of this but still not 100% on how I want my final plan of backup—online? home network?DVDs? I need to do a lot more research and finalize my end of year – this does link with my goal of my digital photo plan.)

Now on to the October objectives, which is just going to be what I did not complete last month with one more addition for this blog. We still have all the sports going on this month so will not overload and make objectives unattainable again.

  1. Get a copy of the church register that shows the baptism of William Van Capen.
  2. Write to the Massachusetts churches to see if they have a record of birth for Joseph Lucas.
  3. Keep on the research into where I can find the military records of a WWI aviator.
  4. Complete the blog post on my search for Joseph Lucas birth record and location.

A very doable list for a hectic schedule. What are your monthly objectives? Or do you have suggestions for mine? If you do then leave them in the comments for all to see.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ up that family.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ancestor Appreciation Day: My Immigrant Ancestors

kaiserwilhelmdergrosseToday is Ancestor Appreciation Day and I knew right away which ancestors I wanted to show my appreciation for, I only wish I could do it in person. I would most like to show my appreciation for the immigrant ancestors in my family for without them, me and my family would not be enjoying the American dream.

When I started this family history journey many years ago I had no idea where I came from, just like most of you probably. I was an American and assumed my ancestors were also. Boy, was I every mistaken.

The biggest surprise, so far, in this quest is finding out that my family did not exist in the United States before 1900. All of my immigrant ancestors emigrated from their homes between 1904 and 1926. Even more surprising to me was that these ancestors aren’t even that distant; they are my grandparents and great-grandparents and one set of 2nd-great-grandparents.

Let me introduce to you those ancestors that I most appreciate; my immigrant ancestors.


  • George Edward ShawEdward Barker Shaw and Hannah Shirt – My 2nd great grandparents. Edward emigrated to Canada about 1882 from Lynby, Nottingham, England. Hannah joined him about a year later with their children, one of which was my great-grandfather, George Edward Shaw. George’s son, my grandfather, is another immigrant ancestor.


  • George Howard ShawGeorge Howard Shaw – My Grandfather. George emigrated from Toronto Canada to Detroit in 1926. This is where he met and married my grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Jane Canter (Cantelo) in 1930.



Canters (Cantelo)

  • William Cantelo and Selina Ann John – My great-grandparents. William and Selina emigrated from Caerphilly, Wales in 1910 and my grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Jane Canter (Cantelo) was with them; she was only 3 years old at the time.

William CanteloSelina Ann John

Lucas (Luksys)

  • Roman Luksys and Catherine Paskruba – My great-grandparents. Roman and Catherine emigrated from Poland about 1904 and settled in Massachusetts, where my grandfather Joseph Lucas was born. They then moved on to Michigan about 1912 and somewhere along the way they also changed their name from Luksys to Lucas. (I do not have a picture of them but hope to someday link up with some family on this side who may have a photo to share with me.)

Pakledinaz (Pakledinac)

  • John Michael Pakledinaz – My great-grandfather. John was born in Tompojevci, Croatia-Slavonia, Austria-Hungary on 16 Mar 1885. He emigrated from there to Youngstown, OhioJohn and Anna Pakledinaz in 1905 where he joined his cousin, Jakob Pakledinac. This is where he met and married my great-grandmother, Anna Hinterhauser.


  • Anna Maria Hinterhauser – my great-grandmother. She is probably the ancestor I look up to the most as she made the immigration journey alone when she was only 19 years old. Anna was born in the small village of Milititsch, Austria-Hungary in 1890. She packed up everything and left for the United States in 1909. She ended up in Youngstown, Ohio and married John (above) less than a year later. They moved to the Detroit area sometime in 1912/13.

I will never know the true reasons why each of them decided to make the long voyage across the ocean in such horrid conditions. However, I would guess it was to give themselves and their families a better life, living the American Dream.

I wish each of them were here today so I could thank them for their sacrifices so many years ago. For if it were not for their spirit and determination then I would not be living the American Dream with my family. Nothing I can say or write can truly express the gratitude and admiration I have for each of them. So, Grandma and Grandpa Shaw, Canter,  Lucas, and Pakledinaz – Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for giving this to me.


What ancestors are you most appreciative of? Leave your thoughts in the comments or make a post of your own.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ up that family.


Thank you to Thomas MacEntee and his Genealogy Blog Editorial Calendar for making me aware of this day.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What to Keep and What to Toss…


The following is a post written by my wife, Michele.

When our oldest started Kindergarten (2 years ago) and started coming home with all different kinds of art projects, self made Mother's Day cards, writing journals and tons of newsletters from the teacher, I decided to keep it all and sort it at the end of the school year. Bad idea! The end of the school year came and I had a 1 foot stack to sort.

1st grade came and I decided I would sort out right from the get go. But what do you keep? Only the art projects? All the perfect spelling tests?

Now we have twins that just started Kindergarten and the process continues x 3. Again the question is what to keep and what to toss?

I have nothing left from my school days except for my report cards. I think I would have liked to see an art project I made or maybe a writing sample from Kindergarten or 1st grade...my yellow blankie that mysterious got lost in a move when I was 6 years old. Those are things that I would like to share with my kids now to show that mom was really their age once and did the same things.

But will my kids want to see those things, too? Will they want to share them with their kids? Will they appreciate it or will they just roll their eyes when I hand them their box of stuff once they're grown up? Will they care that I kept the baby outfit they wore when they came home from the hospital?

I guess for now, until I can figure out what to keep and what to toss, I'll just stick with the beaming smiles I get and the proud look in their eyes when I hang every little scrap of paper they made that says "for mom" on the walls around my desk.

Leave your thoughts on ‘what to keep and what to toss’ in the comments.  


I want to thank my wife for jumping into this posting idea and sharing her thoughts and what is on her mind.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ for that family.

Chris and Michele

Sentimental Sunday - September 11, 2001 - Where Were You?

flags_at_capitalToday is Patriot Day and also marks the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. I will take a moment today to remember all those lost in the tragic events of that day which changed our nation and the world forever. I also want to take this opportunity to write down, for future generations, where I was, what I was doing, and what I was thinking.
September 11, 2001 started out as a great and exciting day for me. I was stationed at Ramstein Air Base near Kaiserslautern, Germany and I was picking up my mom and sister (Kathy) from Frankfurt airport. This was there first visit to Germany and Europe and we had a busy two-week schedule ahead of us. The highpoint of the trip was taking my mom to visit her Dad’s (Joseph Lucas) gravesite at the Netherlands American Cemetery. He was killed just after WWII ended and my mom had never seen or even known where he was buried until I got an assignment to Germany and found the information.
After I picked them up from the airport we decided to head to a castle that wasn’t too far from my apartment. We wanted to keep a little busy during the day to help with the jet lag that 9-hour flight would leave. We visited the Burg Nanstein castle in Landstuhl, Germany and then headed for my apartment so they could unpack.
While they were unpacking, I was in my computer room checking some emails or something. I had the Today Show on the TV. I remember them breaking into the broadcast to show video of an unknown flight that crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York. I remember them talking about not knowing what happened and what a tragic accident. I don’t think I even had the first thought in my mind that it was a terrorist attack yet; just a tragic, almost unbelievable accident. I continued with whatever I was doing on the computer. Then, as they were showing the scene of the first crash, the second plane crashed into the other tower.
My chin and heart dropped right then. I remember thinking that this isn’t an accident anymore. I think that is when I went into the living room to make sure my mom and Kathy were watching the same thing that I was. Yes they were. The rest of the afternoon, we couldn’t take our eyes off the news coverage and I really had a hard time believing all that was true.
Mom at markerMy vacation was cut short and I had to report back to work and the distance I could travel from base was limited but we still made the most of the rest of their time in Germany. We were not going to let the terrorists totally disrupt every facet of our lives and ruin this time together. We traveled where we could. They made it to Trier, Heidelberg, Rudesheim, Kaiserslautern, and to my grandpa’s grave. The Netherlands was outside my 50-mile limit but I was not going to let my mom leave Europe without visiting her father’s grave and putting a little bit of closure to his death which happened 56 years earlier.
That day will always be a day of remembrance for America so we do not forget those that were killed and why we continue our war on terror. I understand and don’t think the memory of that day and what I was doing will ever fade but I wanted it written so when I do pass, my decedents will know what I was doing.
Have you written down what you were doing on that day?
Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ up that family.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Microsoft OneNote–syncing to iPhone

iphonesyncI love using Microsoft OneNote and I piggybacked off of a post by Elyse Doerflinger to give my two cents on the program. My feelings have not changed but one thing that I wish it would do is sync with my iPhone so I can view my notes anywhere.

Yes, there is a OneNote app for the iPhone and technically you are supposed to be able to share your notebooks on Microsoft SkyDrive and then have them on the iPhone. Well, it doesn’t work that great. I got a couple notebooks to sync and could view them on the iPhone, so at first, I was pretty excited (I know, it doesn’t take much). However, another notebook will not sync at all. And, when doing the sync process it really slows down my computer and internet. It is to the point that I cannot do anything else on the internet when OneNote is syncing – everything comes up with a big error saying the website is not responding.

Enough of my ranting because this one glitch is not going to make me convert to Evernote or some other note taking software. I can still sync my notebooks between computers using Dropbox. I just don’t have it on my iPhone, which is with me everywhere.

Maybe I should write a post sometime about all the reasons I like OneNote and why I won’t switch, like Elyse did.

Until I write that, is anyone using a note-taker that they truly love and would like to try and convert me? If so, leave some comments.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ up that family.


Photo by: Speedye

Monday, September 5, 2011

September Objectives

the AlpsHappy Labor Day all! It is already 5 September so about time to publish the objectives we want to meet this month in pursuit of the yearly goals I posted in my Goals and Objectives post. Here are September’s objectives.

  1. Get a copy of the church register that shows the baptism of William Van Capen.
  2. Write to the Massachusetts churches to see if they have a record of birth for Joseph Lucas.
  3. Do some initial research into what military records may be available for WWI aviators (William Van Capen).
  4. Lay out an initial vacation/genealogy trip centered on Danzig.
  5. Store the records in my Lucas files correctly. (I have some old letters and documents laying in files and need to preserved these as best as possible).
  6. Solidify a solid backup plan for my genealogy data and all my photos. (I back up now but I’m not happy with my process).

It seems like a lot (to me) but actually is pretty doable as long as I can stick to my plans and nothing major comes up this month.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ up that family.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

August Objective Recap

smileyfaceSo, here it is September 3rd already, August really went by fast. But, even with a busy schedule which included the start of fall sports, our 2nd grader starting school, and a short vacation, we were able to accomplish most of the objectives we laid out back on August 1st. I gave an update to these in the middle of the month and you can read that here. Here is what we laid out and the results:

  1. We will find and write to the local churches to see about a birth record for William Capen. Yeah! We can mark this complete because my wife completed this. We did not find a birth record (boo!) but we did find a record of his baptism in the church register. We will have to add getting a copy of this to our to-do objectives.
  2. Relook at the past searches I did for Joseph Lucas’ birth record – see where I need to look next. I looked through my Lucas files and found some interesting things that I don’t remember seeing before. The big thing is that I think I’ve narrowed down his place of birth to Northbridge, Ma. I’ve also came up with a couple other leads to go on. I will save this whole story for a separate research story post. But, I can count this as complete. Yeah!
  3. Plan the visit to William Capen’s grave and the WWI battlefields which are nearby (this satisfies my military history needs also). Ran into a little snafu here. We live in Germany and the grave and battlefields are in France. Doing a little investigating I discovered that France is sometimes a little ‘anal’ about passports. The whole family has our ‘official’ passports that got them over here but they all don’t have the tourist passport which France wants to see if asked for. So, we will get that process started next week and continue this objective. I’m glad we figured out the passport thing before we were ready to hit the road.
  4. Danzig – do some initial probes as to what records are available for this area and the time period we need to look at. I pulled a complete brainfart on this one. I started to look at sources for Polish genealogy and I realized that many years ago when I started this family history endeavor I found out that my maternal great-grandmother spoke Polish (She is Joseph Lucas’ mother). Years ago I got two books to help my research along. They are ‘In Search of your European Roots’ by Angus Baxter and ‘Polish Roots’ by Rosemary A. Chorzempa. We looked through these and what a wealth of information I had sitting on my bookshelf, right under my nose. So, this is a complete also.

The RheinSo, all-in-all, it wasn’t such a bad month for getting some research done and we got a long weekend on the Rhein River in to boot. I’m happy with it and we are now ready to move on to September objectives, which I will write up this weekend and post.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ up that family.


Photo by: Troy B. Thompson

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday–Joseph and Elizabeth Lucas


My mom, Elizabeth Lucas Shaw with her Dad, Joseph Lucas about 1937.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ for that family.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Loss of the Family Photo Album?


Just last night I was thinking that my kids are growing up without printed photos and albums to look at. I won’t have them to pull off a dusty shelf in the hall closet so I can embarrass my sons when they bring their first girlfriends home.

This actually kept me up for awhile thinking how times have changed and my kids will have to rely on a computer to look back at our family history in photos and not the albums that we have.

Today, much to my surprise, I take a look at Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter and he shares his thoughts on this very same subject and points us to an article written by Clay Barbour for the Wisconsin State Journal.

Reading both of their thoughts and suggestions really has me thinking today. As was said, photos are such an important part of our family history. At least for me, seeing a photo of my ancestor really gets me more connected to them even though I never met them.

I cannot bear to deprive our children of having those family photo albums to browse through when they get older. I haven’t told the wife yet, but we need to start printing out at least some of the thousands of digital photos we have and put them in albums. We have a lot of work to do.

Has this crossed anyone else’s mind and are you printing out your digital photos; please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ for that family.


Photo by: Photobunny

Sunday, August 21, 2011

FTU 2011 Virtual Conference–Live Chats


Super busy weekend with the kids sports starting up and globs of stupid homework to get done but I did get a few chances to hang out at the Family Tree University 2011 Virtual Conference.

I did a lot of downloading the sessions so I can view them this upcoming week but I also tried the Live Chats. My time zone, CET (Central European Time) and a busy schedule did not give me much opportunity to the ‘Live’ portion of the Live Chats, although I did try to keep up with two of them today. This is totally me so I hope I don’t offend anyone here, but I could not stay engaged with the ‘in real time’ Live Chats. They are interesting at points but I am a guy so my attention span is very short. And it doesn’t help that I’m trying to view this Chat sitting at my computer with all my research around me and other distractions. So, I was not very good at the ‘real time’ chat sessions. However, I’m sure if I had a question and more experience with them then I would be able to rip right along with everyone else there.

The great thing with this virtual conference is that the chats are recorded and I can go back and play them again. I did just that with the ‘Social Networking: Twitter, Facebook, Google+ – What’s Best?” Chat hosted by Nancy Hendrickson. It was great reading what was said at my own pace. I could actually keep up and comprehend what was going on and I was able to learn a couple great things:

  1. That I need to try Twitter and use social networking for my research. There is just so much to gain from using these resources that I did not realize before this chat. So, look for me on Twitter soon.
  2. I learned about Ancestry.com’s new share feature. You can share a document you find with your Facebook account. How cool is that; I will be trying this out in the next week.

That was the only chat the I got completely through. I have a few more to replay so I am off to read one of those, ‘Photo Preservation: Ask the Photo Detective,’ hosted by Maureen A. Taylor. Should be interesting.

I will be posting about the sessions as I view them through the week so stay tuned.

In the mean time, I would love to hear others opinions of the Live Chats and how you keep up with them, leave them in comments.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ for that family.


Photo by: European Parliament

Friday, August 19, 2011

Family Tree University Virtual Conference–I am there, are you?

My sister at the British Archives

Today starts the Family Tree University Virtual Conference. This will be my first ever virtual conference and also my first ever genealogy conference. I’m really looking forward to the sessions and will take up a few blog posts over the next week or so to let everyone know how it went for me. The conference only runs over the weekend but the good thing is that we can download the sessions and watch them at our leisure. So, with such a busy schedule this weekend, I will be doing a lot of downloading and then a lot of watching over the next week.

I’m so excited and can’t wait to let everyone know about this over the next week or so.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ up that family.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hats off to Ancestry.com–Free Access to 1940 Census Release.

Shirt Elizabeth 1881 CensusJust read a news release by ancestry.com that the 1940 Census, when released, will be available free on their site until at least the end of 2013. The scheduled release is about mid-April 2012. Here is the whole news release.
I know that Ancestry.com is a company and their goal is to make money but my hats off to them for releasing this census for free for the first year and a half it will be available. I’m sure the bottom line here and the underlying reason that ancestry.com is offering this for free is to get more traffic to their site which equals more paid subscribers and more money for them. However, the do not have to offer the census for free, they could very well make everyone pay for the access and they would make a lot of money with it because people will pay. I know I would if that was the best way to gain access; I wouldn’t like it but I would pay. But, they are offering it for free and that is why my hat goes off to them for this. Good move on their part as far as marketing and strategy but it is also a great move for the further of family history research. This will attract more and more to this great (most of the time) past time.
Let all of us know what your thoughts are on the news release by ancestry.com by leaving a comment.
Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ for that family.

Monday, August 15, 2011

August Objective Update!

CheckAugust is now half over – where did the month go so fast? I need to provide an update on where we are with the objectives that we set out to complete this month.

First things first – this is the first month that we are trying this new approach to getting things done. Combining these objectives with everything else that needs to get done during the month can seem very overwhelming at times. However, I think we are doing pretty good. We have even used some of the tips/tricks that I talked about in my Genealogy Time Management – Focus post (I would hope that I’m using my own tips/tricks). The main thing that keeps us on track is that I block out time on my calendar to get certain things done. I have time blocked out for homework assignments, family time, and research. I have even added blog posts to my calendar this week because I was neglecting the posts. Enough of the blabbing and on to the update.

  1. We will find and write to the local churches to see about a birth record for William Capen. Yeah! We can mark this complete because my wife completed this. We did not find a birth record (boo!) but we did find a record of his baptism in the church register. We will have to add getting a copy of this to our to-do objectives.
  2. Relook at the past searches I did for Joseph Lucas’ birth record – see where I need to look next. Not doing so good here – haven’t started but the time is on my calendar for this coming week.
  3. Plan the visit to William Capen’s grave and the WWI battlefields which are nearby (this satisfies my military history needs also). Not so good here either but now on my calendar for next week when I am off work for the week (yeah!)
  4. Danzig – do some initial probes as to what records are available for this area and the time period we need to look at. Ditto as the previous two objectives Sad smile

I am going to say that the wife did great because she got something done already. I have to get off my butt and do some of this stuff that I love to do so much. But, that is one of the reasons for this mid-month look at our objectives; keep us on track. I think this ‘look’ has done its job because the lacking objectives are now on my calendar. I just have to stick to the plan as much as possible.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ for that family.


Photo by Matt Carman

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It Has Got to Get Better!!

frustrationI read a post by Cheryl over at 1ancestry2littletime blog last night about how she started her blog on the spur of the moment and really didn’t know what she was doing or where to get help. Well, I think she is doing just fine (better than me) and she offers some great advice for newbie bloggers.

I feel her pain and am in the same boat. I started this blog with some thought as to content and purpose but I did not have posts planned out yet. I just figured I love to write and how hard can it be to write at least one post every week. Oh, how I was wrong. I forgot to think about how time consuming putting meaningful posts together would be.

I also did not think about all the other demands on my time. Like the wife, the kids, work (wish I could quit this), college (2 classes at a time) and the household duties. Things like paying the bills (wish I could quit that, too), mowing the lawn, fixing everything. What about the other hobbies I have that I don’t have time for. Like photography and travel.rothenberg_scene We are living in Germany and one of my passions is history and there is so many historical sites to see all over the place. Oh, and fall sports start in two weeks and all the kids are participating and all in a different activity; Nathan in soccer, Tyler in flag football, and Katie in cheerleading. Oh, I so hope they are all on different days and times, too. That will help my time management woes so very much. I didn’t even mention the family history research also. Oh yeah, I do need to sleep also, right?

So, all of these demands on my time that I didn’t think about when I decided to start this blog. But, I really love writing and family history so blogging is a way to put the two together and also get some much needed writing practice. Plus, I get a great feeling when I can finally hit that publish button after working on a post. However, truth be told, blogging is strictly self-imposed time.

All the other demands on my time have a higher power that I must answer to if they don’t get done; my wife, boss, or professor. And most of those things-to-do have specific deadlines to meet. With the blog, I am only answering to myself so when something needs to slip because I’ve run out of time, it is the first to go.

I’ve written a couple other posts on time management (Genealogy Time Management and Focus) but just can’t seem to pull it all together. Every thing else other than the blogging time is working pretty well. I need to figure this out because I will not fail at this blog.

I am curious how all you other more successful bloggers fit the post writing into your busy schedules. Please leave me suggestions in comments.

Thanks for reading - keep diggin’ up that family.


I would like to thank Cheryl of 1ancestry2littletime for the inspiration for this post.

Photos by me.

Monday, August 1, 2011

August Objectives!


My last post, Goals and Objectives, I laid out the goals we (wife and I) have set out for the rest of this year. And I said that each month I would list the objectives we want to finish which lead us to the obtainment those goals. So, it is August 1st and our first monthly objectives.

  1. We will find and write to the local churches to see about a birth record for William Capen.
  2. Relook at the past searches I did for Joseph Lucas’ birth record – see where I need to look next.
  3. Plan the visit to William Capen’s grave and the WWI battlefields which are nearby (this satisfies my military history needs also).
  4. Danzig – do some initial probes as to what records are available for this area and the time period we need to look at.

So, not too hefty of a list to get done this month. For each new objectives list I will also update on the previous months objectives. Wish me luck!

Keep diggin’ for that family.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom ~1936~2011~


Elizabeth Ann (Lucas) Shaw

31 July 1936 – 6 January 2011

Today, our mom would have been 75 years old…Happy Birthday Mom~
We love and miss you; Kathy, Bobby, Billy, Chris and the whole family~

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Goals and Objectives

goalsettingI’ve seen a lot of blog authors posting their goals for the week, month, year. What a fantastic idea! So, I am going to steal the idea I got from some other bloggers and post the goals we have for our family history research. One of the main reasons for this blog is to have another forum to document the research we are doing and I believe goals 101 says to write them down. Plus, if they are written down here in my blog for the whole world to see then that may help keep me accountable towards those goals.

I am going to take a little different approach as I mentioned in my Genealogy Time Management-Focus post. I have several goals in mind but most are not easy fixes and will take several different steps to reach. So, I am going to post our goals for the rest of 2011 and then each month (starting in August) I will post the objectives we want to accomplish that gets us closer to that goal.

Goals for the rest of 2011 are as follows and in no particular order:

  1. Locate birth record for William Van Capen
  2. Locate any military records for William Van Capen
  3. Visit William Van Capen’s gravesite and memorial to his unit, the 3rd Aviation Instructor Center near Issuodun, France
  4. Uncover specific locations/information of my wife’s line in Danzig, Poland and start planning a trip there for next year
  5. Locate birth record for Joseph Lucas

Those seem to be some reasonable goals for the rest of this year. I am sure we will amend them as the year progresses but for now we can use these to maintain focus on our research.  Now I have to get to work on our objectives for August which is only a couple days away Yikes!

I’m curious how others set their goals and maintain accountability to those goals – if you have ideas and suggestions or want to share how you do it please leave a comment.

Hope you enjoy our journey and please help us stay accountable to our goals, objectives, and more importantly, our ancestors/descendants for whom we do this for.

Keep diggin’ for that family, Chris

Photo by: Angie Torres

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Note Taking

notetakingI just read a post over at Elyse’s Genealogy Blog about using Microsoft OneNote and have to put a plug in for it. Along with her I have been using OneNote for classwork and am now playing with OneNote to see how best to use it for my genealogy notes. One thing that I do like about OneNote is that there are plugins for Firefox (my preferred browser) that allow me to right-click any webpage and send it right into OneNote. Makes saving information so easy. I can’t wait to read more of what Elyse says about OneNote.

Thanks for stoppin by and keep diggin for that family,


Photo by: MEDEA Malmö

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ice Cream Sundae–Sunday

_MG_7894What can brighten up a miserable rainy day better than finding out it is Ice Cream Sundae day?

All over the world people are counting calories and skipping those all-too-delicious deserts or evening snacks. But, today is a holiday in honor of one of those great deserts and snacks so those calories do not officially count – heck, we can even say they don’t even exist today. Me and the family indulge in the sundae every now and again and we will again today since it is a holiday and we must, right?  With it being sundae day it gets me to thinking of my childhood and the part ice cream played in it.

My biggest childhood memory involving ice cream doesn’t actually involve pure ice cream but instead custard. I don’t really know the difference between the two and honestly don’t care. What I do care about is the memory of stopping at the local custard shop, Custard Time when I was growing up. We used to stop there after our baseball or soccer games. I think I would always get the vanilla cone with the red, white, and blue sprinkles. Delicious! I can almost taste it now.

Although that custard was great, I think it is the combination of events and making it a tradition to go to Custard Time after a game that makes it so memorable, even after all these years. That memory and tradition is so strong within me that I stop at Custard Time whenever I am back in the home town, which isn’t nearly enough.

Custard Time still exists in my hometown of Northville, Michigan and even has their own Facebook page which I just ‘liked’.

Thanks to Geneabloggers for mentioning that today is Ice Cream Sundae Day and taking me for a short trip down memory lane.

What are your childhood memories of Ice Cream? Leave a comment and let us all know. Now I think I’m going to make a sundae.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ up those memories.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Making Memories

LegolandWe have a little saying between the wife and me and I’m sure many families say the same thing, it’s ‘making memories’. We use that for all the special things we do as a family. We want our kids to have special memories that center around our family that they will hopefully cherish for the rest of their lives.

This past week was a short family vacation centered on two days at Legoland. The kids have been waiting for this since February when we announced we would be going when dad got back from his deployment. These are the kind of ‘family time’ things that both me and the wife thought would make the list of our kids special moments, those ‘making memories’ moments. The kids love it as I am sure all kids do but it surprises me and the wife that these are not the big items in the ‘making memories’ treasure chest of our kids.

I asked my oldest who just turned 7 last month what is his favoriteOur Oldest - Tyler memory, one that makes him very happy. I figured Legoland would come spurting out from his lips without hesitation. But, to my surprise, he hesitated and then said “when you and mom pick me up from school, I really like that”. My jaw probably dropped a little because I did not expect that answer. Like I said, I expected Legoland or the birthday party at the zoo or some other big event.

That got me to thinking about my ‘making memories’ moments from my childhood. I can think of several from family gatherings to trips taken. However, there are three moments that top the charts of my past. First, is the weekends I spent at my grandparents. We never did anything really special or extraordinary. We did basic things together. My grandma taught me to fish for bluegill in Wolverine Lake. Then showed me how to scale and gut them so we could eat them for dinner that night. Me and my Dad at Grandma and Grandpa'sMy grandpa bought me a mini-motorcycle and taught me how to ride it. I could spend hours out in the yard riding that thing in circles. The second of my moments are the camping trips with my mom and dad and the camping club we belonged to. For the year or two that we belonged to that club I think we went out at least one weekend every other month or so during the camping season. My dad worked many hours and usually seven days a week so he usually was not there to get the camper to the park and set it up so my mom and I had to get it done. Mostly mom because I am sure I was not that much help because I sure don’t remember being any. But, other members of the camping club were always there to lend a hand. My dad would get there after work and finish up. It was at one of these camping trips that I decided I was too fast and my dad couldn’t catch me anymore. Boy, was I wrong and it is only now, after I have gained some years that I realize what he knew at that time, experience makes up for youth and speed.

Me and DadThere is one memory from my childhood that will always be the tops of my list for ‘making memories’. This is no vacation or big event. I mentioned that my dad worked long hours and usually seven days a week so obviously I did not get much time with him. He always took his lunch to work and had a lunch box. On his way home from work he would stop at a store and pick up a candy bar for me and put it in his lunch box. Thinking back, it is not the candy bar that is the great memory for me, it is that little act that told me that he loved me and was always thinking about me.

My eyes are now a little more open to what our kids may think are those special moments and what they will pack away in their ‘making memories’ treasure chest. It is not necessarily that extravagant and fun-filled family vacation to Legoland. It may be something as simple as picking your child up from school so they don’t have to take the bus or bringing them a treat after work.

Think back to your childhood, what are your ‘making memory’ moments? Are you writing them down so they are around longer than you? Will your kids have the same special memories?

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ for that family.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Genealogy Time Management–Focus

time4[4]I said that I would be trying out the concepts of the article by Patricia Law Hatcher that I mentioned in my post Genealogy Time Management. However, before I can really get into her concepts I decided that for this to work for me then I must define some of her key concepts for the plan. The first will be focus.

We have all experienced the lack of focus in our research. In today’s age of computer and internet research it is too easy to get distracted and then all of a sudden you are looking at records of ancestors that in no way connect to what you originally set out to find.

What I propose to do in order to get focused is first establish some goals and objectives for my research. My goals will be something that I want to conquer within the next six months to a year. Monthly, I will establish some objectives to complete that will bring me closer to those goals. Establishing these objectives will pinpoint specific things I must know or find in order to meet that goal. They will give me just one thing to concentrate on during a research session.

Now that I will have goals for the year and objectives for the upcoming month I can actually get down to doing some research. But finding the time for this is much easier said than done as I’m sure most family historians will attest to. However, as Ms. Hatcher suggests in her article, I will schedule this time each week and if something comes up that interferes then I will reschedule my research time immediately.

We have kids so our house isn’t the most optimum place to have the peace and quiet needed to actually get some good research done. So me and the wife are going to have to work together in order to schedule our time. I can take the kids out to the park on Sunday afternoon while she stays home and dives into her research. She can do the same thing for me. Or maybe we both get the kids ready for bed and tucked in and then take an hour or two at night to conduct some research. It can work if we just work together and make a commitment to it.

The final thing I want to discuss is my plan for dealing with the inevitable distracting record or article that will grasp my attention. I do not want to ignore a possible find so I need to do something with it right when I see it. So, I will always keep a separate pad of paper or my todo list handy during research. When I come across that possible record that is not what I am looking for I can make a quick note of what it is, what it may tell me, and where to find it again. That should take all but 2 minutes to complete and is now a todo for a future session. If I capture the possible find information in this way then it should clear my mind so I can press ahead with my original search.

To recap, here is a summary of the concepts I must master to get focused:

  1. Establish my goals and objectives
  2. Concentrate on one objective for each research session
  3. Schedule the session on my calendar
  4. Deal with distractions immediately by adding to my todo list

If I can do what I just talked about then I can maintain the focus I need in order to make great use of the limited time I have to devote to my family history research each week.

I am curious how others with limited time each week maintains their focus so please leave a comment with your ideas.

Thanks for listening and keep diggin’ for that family.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday-William Canter (Cantelo)

Cantelo, Wm Grave Marker

William Canter (1881 – 1938), my Great Grandfather. Served in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force in 1918.

He is also one of our immigrant ancestors. He immigrated from England in 1910 with his family. They finally settled in Detroit, Michigan sometime in the 20’s.

Thanks for taking a look and please keep diggin’ up that family.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Follow Friday–Vietnam Virtual Wall

Vietnam Was Memorial

We all know of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. However, I did not know until coming across this website today that there was The Virtual Wall; Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The Virtual Wall is a continuation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C. and brings the honor of the fallen Vietnam veteran to every home. You can search for names or you can look by locality, like your hometown and see all those that were killed in Vietnam. What is great about this site is that when you come across a persons name you can click on it and it will bring up facts on that person, like when the died and the circumstances. Some even have photos and family and friends can leave messages or letters to their lost loves.

This is a great resource for the family historian but it is even a better resource for honoring the brave men and women who gave their life for this country in the Vietnam War. My heartfelt thanks goes out to the volunteers that make this virtual memorial available to us all.

Photo by: Chris Waits

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Google Earth for Genealogy

3717759677_4a520a1dbbA couple weeks ago I was reading through blogs and came across Deb Ruth’s Adventures in Genealogy blog and she was telling us about the Google Earth for Genealogists webinar she attended. So I followed the link and downloaded it. Today, I finally got a chance to sit down and watch the whole thing.

The webinar is put on by Lisa Louise Cooke who also runs the Genealogy Gems podcasts. I have used Google Earth before but not really that much and I didn’t play with all the features. I just thought it was another of those online mapping sites. Was I ever wrong.

Lisa Louise Cooke does a great job showing how we can use Google earth to help in our family history quest. She goes through how to use it for identifying the location a picture was taken at, which was my favorite part. And then she goes into using and making map overlays, presentations of your ancestors lives, etc…

I am currently in a place with a very slow internet connection and only my little netbook so I can’t really try out all the cool tricks she showed on Google Earth, but you can bet I’ll be trying them out  when I am back home in a couple of weeks.

Thanks to Adventures in Genealogy and Lisa Louise Cooke for showing this to me.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin for that family.


Photo by: tonynetone

Saturday, June 4, 2011

This Day in History–4 June

John Alcock married Ann Lamb on this date in 1750. They were married in Pappelwick, Nottingham, England. They are my 7th Great Grandparents (paternal).

John was christened on 26 Dec 1720 in Lynby, Nottingham, England. He would die in Lynby in 1791 and buried on 21 Nov.

Ann was born abt 1728. She died in Lynby in 1783 and was buried on the 25th of March.


Also on this date in 1663, John’s grandfather (my 9th Great Grandfather), William Alcock married his first wife, Dorothy Walker. They were married in St. Peters, Nottingham, England.

William was born abt 1640. He died in Lynby in 1711 and was buried on 2 Aug of that same year. He married my 9th Great Grandmother about 1671.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ up that family.


Friday, June 3, 2011

This Day in History–3 June

Thomas Shaw married Ann Barker on this day in 1819. They were married in Bramcote, Nottingham, England. Shaw Barker Marriage recordThey are my 5th Great Grandparents.

Thomas was born in Linby, Nottingham, England in 1766 and christened on 11 May 1766. His occupations include a smith, farrier, and a farmer. He died in Linby on 6 June 1851 at 85 years old.

Not much is known of Ann except that she was probably born in 1785 in Rolleston, Nottingham, England. 

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ up that family.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Military Monday - Memorial Day–Pfc Joseph Lucas, WWII Vet

In honor of Memorial Day, I am posting on my grandfather. A World War II veteran killed in Germany 18 days after Victory in Europe.

Joseph Lucas was born 13 December 1907 in Northbridge, Massachusetts. His parents were Polish immigrants, Roman Luksys and Catherine Paskruba. Joe (as he was called by friends and family) was the second oldest of their six children. They resided in Massachusetts until they moved to Michigan about 1911. Roman and Catherine changed their last name from Luksys to Lucas sometime between 1913 and 1920, more than likely to make it more “American”. Roman died sometime between 1920 and 1924.
clip_image002Joe, along with his brothers, probably helped out on the family farm so they probably didn’t finish any schooling past the 6th grade.. Joe also worked as a riveter for Ford Motor Company and this is probably where he was working when he met his future wife, Teresa Pakledinaz. They were married on 14 Sept 1935 in Carleton, Michigan. Joe and Teresa had four children throughout their marriage: Elizabeth (1936), Joseph (1937), John (1939), and Nancy (1941).
Joe and Teresa had a falling out sometime at the end of 1942 that led to a divorce on 5 May 1943. The reason for the divorce was probably Joe’s second wife, Thelma Sabol. They were married a little over a month later on 21 June 1943. It was later this year, October 15 to be exact, that Joe entered the US Army. It is not known whether Joe enlisted voluntarily or he was drafted. Most men of his age and his number of children were not drafted, but he may have been. There are many indications that Joe regretted his divorce from Teresa and his marriage to Thelma. First was that in Aug of 1944, Joe removed Thelma as his Beneficiary; he put just his kids names. In addition, in a letter to Teresa, dated 8 Jan 1945 Joe stated that he did not have much use for Thelma anymore. The army may have been Joe’s answer to get away from his problems.

Joe’s indoctrination to the army took place at Camp Grant, Illinois. After that, he was transferred to his permanent unit, the 70th Infantry Division, The Trailblazers. They were located at Camp Adair, Oregon. He was first with L Company, 275th Infantry Regiment but was later assigned to Battery B, 882nd Field Artillery Battalion. It is not known why he was transferred between units of the 70th. With the 882nd is where Joe would spend his combat time through Europe.

Joe’s unit sailed from Boston on 8 Jan 1945 aboard the USS Mariposa and arrived in Marseilles, France on 18 Jan. From there Joe traveled with his unit through France until they were reunited with the infantry regiments of the 70th ID, 7th US Army. Their first taste of combat was at Diebling, France. The 882nd Field Artillery mainly fired in support of the 274th Infantry Regiment. The 70th ID major battles were fought through Spicheren Heights, Forbach, Stiring-Wendel, and finally crossing the Saar River and taking Saarbruecken thus cracking the Siegfried line and entering Germany. After the battle for Saarbruecken was over, the 70th was put in reserve and their basic duties consisted of mopping up and policing duties. The 882nd Field Artillery was located near Neuhoff, Germany when they celebrated Victory in Europe day on 8 May 1945. The battalion was still on the move and by 11 May, they were moved to Hanau. Battery B, Joe’s unit, was assigned to the village Bischofsheim and then on the 25th moved to the village of Bruchkoebel. Their job was to evacuate that portion of the Hanau Kreis as it was declared a part of the SHAEF (Supreme HQ Allied Expeditionary Forces) security area.
clip_image006On 26 May, Joe was assigned to guard a food warehouse near Hanau. At approximately 1400hrs, German civilians raided the warehouse compound. Joe’s partner, Pfc John Morris, (according to a predetermined plan) went to the third floor of the warehouse, thinking Joe was right behind him, and started shooting towards the civilians. After most of the civilians had left the area, PFC Morris headed back to the ground floor to round up what civilians were left. He found PFC Lucas laying in a train boxcar, dead. The investigation of the incident found that PFC Lucas was shot through the neck by a round fired by PFC Morris, who was firing in the line of duty. The investigating officer found that there was no fault and the incident was just a misfortunate accident. This all took place 18 days after the war in Europe was over.

Joe’s body was first buried at Margraten on 31 May 1945 at 1640hrs; he was buried in grave 260, row 11, plot DD. His brother, Edward, made the decision that Joe’s final resting place should be overseas. Joe’s final burial would take place on 25 April 1949, where he was laid to rest in plot O, row 6, grave 12 of the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten.

Joe was neither the perfect soldier nor the perfect husband, who is? However, one thing is for certain, Joe loved his children. Elizabeth is the only one that has faint memories of her dad; she was 9 yrs old when he died. Nancy, who was only 3 yrs old when Joe died, has no memory of her dad at all. Back in 1999, when the family finally learned of Joe’s final resting place and the circumstances of his death, a letter was found written by Joe back in January 1945. This was probably the last letter Joe wrote to Teresa and his kids before he died. After Nancy read the letter, she said that at least now she knows her dad loved her. The first clip_image010line in that letter read “...here’s a big kiss and hug for the children with their daddy’s love.” Moreover, clip_image008the last line of that letter read, “...with all my love to the kids from their daddy.” Joe loved his kids.
My deepest appreciate goes out to all those that gave the ultimate sacrifice and to their families who must now go through life without them.

Chris – Proud grandson of Pfc Joseph Lucas!