Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sentimental Sunday: Lawn Chair Genealogy

Photo from the family collection of Hannah & William Broadfoot, held privately by Midge Frazel, 2016
Lawn Chair Genealogy

In my paternal family, we practice a not-so-unusual-family-activity that I am now calling lawn chair genealogy. Well, it isn't all about genealogy, it is about families getting together a couple times a year and having fun together and just talking to each other while sitting in lawn chairs.

 I can tell you that we did not spend enough time doing this as people aged and died. My father's brother Bill's wife, Hannah
was the family photographer and storyteller. I could always count on her to pay attention around these events and report back to me when I asked.

Hannah married into my paternal family BUT, as it turns out, she was a distant cousin to me on my maternal side. I don't think she knew this before she died but once I figured that out, I worked on it until I was sure.

Hannah was a great family historian. She and my uncle doted on us because they did not have kids of their own. We really appreciated her. Everyone knew Hannah in her town. Smart and talented with a needle, she also labeled her photos better that most of us that are left behind. That's why I scanned the front and back of this photo.

Even when I wasn't there, my paternal family went on vacation together. As I have inherited some of those photos, they tell me what I wanted to know. This is indeed a treasure.

When I was old enough, I began to ask questions of my aunts and uncles as to what they liked to do, what jobs they had and who were the non family members that we invited to these events. 

As the aunt pictured here, with my mother, worked for my maternal grandfather, my families came together at that point. My parents were born in the same town. It is a lucky coincidence for me.

There is just two of us left now, since one of us three cousins recently died. I realize that I have made a "rookie mistake". We planned to get together last summer and we didn't settle on a date. I am the little cousin. Being younger, I thought there was more time. As a genealogist, I should have known better.

 I am in a state of "genealogy mourning". I have done the only thing I can and that is to gather my 1st cousins, once removed together, via Facebook and I've started asking questions. It is the only way to see what we know and what we don't. They are mourning too. This is hard. I feel stupid for my rookie mistake of procrastination. I have made first contact with spouses and cousins on their "other" sides and I am starting a plan. I'll take any help that I can get.

First cousins, once removed (a long time ago)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Common New England Surname: Brown

Shades of Brown Mandala, Midge Frazel, Colorist, 2017
Common New England Surname: Brown
Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?

Whenever New England genealogists encounter the surname Brown, Smith or Jones, they groan and throw up their hands in the air! I am one of those people that has all those names in my charts. 

Proving just one line can take years of work. As I roamed the cemeteries in my local Massachusetts areas, in my native Rhode Island or my ancestral areas of Connecticut, I see many family plots that have at least one of these surnames. 

It seems people with the surname Brown are all around me! My grandparents lived next door to a Brown family, whose son was my childhood dentist.

The History of Stonington, Connecticut by Judge Wheeler, which is arranged by family surname has three sections of Brown families. They are: The "Lynn Brown Family" meaning they came from Lynn, Massachusetts, the "Rev. Chad Brown" family and the "Edward Brown" family. 

Is it any wonder that the children's rhyming picture book keeps running through my head?

The Browns buried in the Denison plot at Elm Grove Cemetery in Mystic, CT are part of the "Lynn Brown Family". Judge Wheeler's book and the vital records and Hale Cemetery records agree. Phew. But, wait, there are two Brown plots nearby. Are they the same family? I decided to find out.

If you see any Brown, Smith or Jones gravestones, you should photograph them and put them online. That's what I am doing. Hopefully none of them are bears.

Posts about this project will be in The Granite in MY Blood blog

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sentimental Sunday: Facebook and Friends

On this Day, 10 years ago, I joined Facebook
Coloring by Midge Frazel, 2016

I am not a person who makes friends easily. As an only child, I enjoy solitary activities and find it hard to work in a group. Facebook has changed me a lot. Facebook may not be so wonderful when people disagree (and there has been plenty of that lately) but most will agree that it helps us keep in touch with friends and family. 

In 2007, at an ed tech conference in the Florida sunshine, my friend Kathy Schrock told me that Facebook was now open to all, so when we returned to our room in the hotel, she showed me how to join and what she had been using it for. 

The day before, I took this photo of the January Florida sunshine and wondered what ten years ahead would look like. It does seem like a long time ago. Now, we must try to stay in the sunshine. I'd like to gather my friends (I have over a thousand) and say, "Let's stay friends."  It is the most precious.

Ten years ago, 28 January, 2007

Friday, January 27, 2017

Using a Planner

February 2017 Planner pages, Erin Condren Planner, 2017
Using the Planner


I really like my new planner and the "bullet-journal" productivity books that I have bought from Erin Condren. Next year (2018), I will probably get the larger Life Planner horizontal style. I examined one at Staples and I think that will work for me. I will order it direct from the Erin Condren Web site since I do need it a few months ahead to plan.

This is the start to February that I finished this week while I watch TV. I have the stickers on the whole year. That's the easy and fun part. As you can see from the collage at the top of this post, there are three spreads in one month. I am planning a quick summary of what blog posts were for each month and if it is about an ancestor, which ancestor it involves.

The round (currently pink) stickers are removable and I am color coding them as I plan them. I put a checkmark when they are finished as set to post. I write three blogs so I will have to use three colors. 

Hubs birthday is Valentine's Day so it is a big holiday around here. I am ready except for the meal. I buy the food and the Italian bread that morning and if it looks like snow, I will buy it ahead.

I have been lucky to be able to buy the planner and notebook supplies on sale ahead of time. It is fun. You can get sticker madness. I am happy to say that I will not fill mine up with stickers. I have seen some planners online that have so many stickers that they can't be shut. Wow. People need a lot to motivate them. I get that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Noun Project: Person, Place or Thing?

Photo of our hardcover Dictionary, privately held, Midge Frazel, 2017
The Noun Project: Person, Place or Thing?
A Bullet Journaling Project for 2017

I wouldn't be surprised if, as you read the word noun, you parroted back, "A noun is a person place or thing." because if you are of a certain age, you were taught by your elementary school teacher to recite the definitions of sentence structure. However, the real definition is a whole lot more complicated. Read the real definition here in the online version of this print dictionary. Evidently, we learned the child's version of noun. Unless you majored in English, you probably didn't give it another thought.

There is so much that doesn't fit into your favorite online or offline genealogy application.

Here's the THING...
Sure, the person and the dates and sometimes the places fit neatly but the things of like don't
  • organizations, clubs and organizations people belonged to
  • neighborhoods, addresses and houses lived in 
  • family businesses and the other people who worked for them
  • military history (and the places they served)
  • sources of information on a surname (compiled genealogies)
  • groups of people buried together in a plot (some of who are not related to the family)

I ran into this when I tried to keep track of the research I did for my family businesses. No matter how I tried, I couldn't find a way to record, cite and analyze information past the basics. For a long time, I used a research log, a list of citations and a timeline.

However, a project like that, that could be turned into a memory book for my family was not easy to record, write or set aside until more information was gathered. This is why I spent several months learning about bullet journaling. The classic method was not "genealogy specific" so I started working on a method that suited me. 

I am now working with a planner system, a bullet journal and a software writing tool (Scrivener) and a paper notebook. It sounds complex but since most of my work is done at home this will work for me. I stopped taking client work and became retired. I am now only working on my own family as was recommended to me by several genealogists. 

This is my plan for 2017 and by the end of the year I hope to report progress.

The distractions are endless.

I am even distracted by DNA, which I started to learn and immediately saw it as a specialty and not something for every genealogist. I was WRONG. But, keeping track of that was harder than I thought.

I will be seventy this year, my health is not perfect and I am trying to be practical about the total picture. I'd like to ENJOY genealogy once again. I am working on it but lately, genealogy hasn't been fun. 

I suspect that others may feel the same. Do you?

Copyright: Erin Condren, 2016-2017

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Inventor: Glamorous Profession

Privately held, Midge Frazel, 2016

A Glamorous Profession
Blog Post 4 

Lest you think that being an engineer during the depression was a glamorous profession, this is a photo of the workplace Bill worked in probably during the 1950s. Bill hated wearing a tie and some years after these photos were taken, he took a chance and stopped wearing the daily tie and white shirt. Because I knew him, I can tell you that he did not like working in a big room with so many people around.  I am guessing that this room was twice as big as what was photographed and maybe there were some offices with closed doors.

Finding photos that tell a story after all of the family has died and you can't ask questions about it, is a sad situation. We did find the above photo before his oldest son died and sent copies of it to him and to his daughters (who couldn't believe how old it looked!)

There is always more to be learned about someone who lived a long life like Bill. He died at age 97, outliving his wife. I think of all the photos, I like this photo booth strip because it was so out of character for him to do. He was quite the guy.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Inventor: The Early Years

Compass belonging to WH. Frazel, 2017, privately held
The Inventor: The Early Years
Blog Post 3

1935 Rhode Island Census Card, Ancestry.com

When Bill Frazel took his first job at Builders Iron Foundry in Providence, RI, he is listed as a "clerk" in this census record. They didn't want to pay him as an engineer. Bill and his wife Ruth, didn't marry until 1937, so he was living with his parents in Bristol, RI and commuting to Providence. Just as today, people had to take a lower paying job to get their foot in the door. The Great Depression was no exception.

My husband and I have finally been through the box of his possessions and found this compass that he may have used quite a lot. 

What we didn't find was his American Red Cross blood card. Bill was blood type AB negative which is unusual. Bill's wife was tested and had to take the shots when she was pregnant because she was O positive. It is not know what type his parents were but that may have contributed to the stillborn death of his older sister. In the cemetery, there is her headstone and a blank space which was probably reserved for Bill or a future child which they did not have.

Bill was the classic only child. His mother doted on him and was known to brag about her smart son. Bill's father had been married previously and they had a child who only lived with them for a while since he was older than Bill. This first wife is buried in the family plot.

It was wonderful to talk with Cousin Eleanor as she knew this family and even attended the wedding of Bill and Ruth. Eleanor's family lived next door to the family and her mother was Bill's mother's sister. I gained information that no record will ever reveal.