Sunday, August 28, 2016

Bullet Journaling for Genealogists

Ancestral Bookmark, 2016, privately held
by Midge Frazel

Bullet Journaling for Genealogists
You may have heard about bullet journaling from some of your non-genealogist friends. This method of keeping records, called tracking, is popular with anyone who has to manage their lives in a new way. 

Taking medications and keeping track of health related issues, event planning (like weddings or religious events) doing school or work related tasks, planting and gardening, house renovations, weight loss are some of the most common reasons to keep a Bullet Journal. Travel journals are more popular than ever and they morph into a smashbook (a kind of scrapbook) when the trip is over. Cool things are happening outside my office walls. 

Bullet Journals have their own hashtag #bujo. If you are going to blog about this, that's the tag to use.

For some time now, I have been investigating this topic with the perspective of the family historian or genealogist. I joined two Facebook groups and have collaborated with a few others on how they set up and use a research journal. Most of the people who bullet journal use calligraphy and art supplies as motivation to keep records. It keeps them engaged in their journal. I think this is helping people with organizing and planning. One size doesn't fit all.

I have been gathering some ideas in a Pinterest board. I have suggested that a well known genealogist (not me) develop a webinar on this topic and I have been sharing my ideas with that person through my development of a plan that works for me as a visual example.

As you know, I am retired but I am still an active researcher with many interests beyond genealogy. 

The bookmark shown here in this post, is a family heirloom. It belonged to my great grandparents. It was given to my grandfather, then to my mother and now it is mine. To me it was a symbol of trying not to over-do my work and not to be able remember what I was doing so I could to pick it up again where I left off. There are not enough hours in the day. I must chose wisely so I have divided my work into three notebooks. 

  • My calendar-planner (for my blogs) 
  • My research log/notebooks (my real bullet journal)
  • My list of things that don't fit neatly (like bright-shiny objects and thoughts) into the above two books.

As I sip my iced coffee, I thought you'd like to know what the Highly Caffeinated Genealogists has on her mind. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sentimental Sunday: Original Records

Collage by Midge Frazel, 2016

Original Image vs. Certified Copy
As I try to shape up my first five generations, I discovered that there really was a ORIGINAL IMAGE of the record of my maternal 2nd great grandparents, Dudley Wheeler Stewart and Eliza Fish Denison of North Stonington, Connecticut. I located it this week by searching at I am quite excited about this because this couple was the first photographs of my ancestors that my grandmother gave me the day I became a genealogist at the age of 7. 

My grandfather, Evans Stewart, their grandson, had died and my grandmother showed me the Stewart Family Bible, once owned by Eliza Fish Denison Stewart. She is the closest Denison to me and they are buried near to the Denison plot in Elm Grove Cemetery in Mystic, CT where my maternal grandparents are buried. I have always known I was a Denison. Grandpa drove his big Cadillac slowly by the Denison Homestead and told me it was important. I promised to remember. I became a life member of the Denison Society.

In 2005, I sent letters to North Stonington, Stonington and Groton, Connecticut seeking records. The nice assistant Town clerk from Groton, wrote to me and told me that they were indeed married there and their were records for my Fish ancestors as well. As I had learned, I asked for the cost and for a certified copy of any records they could find. Back came the image to the far left which was accepted for proof for my DAR and for my Mayflower membership. Eliza's mother, Levina Fish, birth record in 1790 was one she sent me as well. 

As you can see, a copy of the original page was not offered to me. But, she must have gone to the ledger and copied down (correctly), the names, dates, places and who married them. I read this copy, found at with great interest. The top of the page, separated the "colored" with a tab. Wow.

Dudley and Eliza were married in 1856 before the Civil War, but Dudley did not serve. He may have sent a "substitute" because he could afford it and because he was running the only  general store in North Stonington. He was registered for the draft, in 1863 at 40 years of age, but as far as I can tell, he did not actually serve.

With their marriage date confirmed, I looked for her, not in Stonington or North Stonington as I had surmised, but in Groton, living with her mother's family, possibly as a companion or nanny, in 1850 at the age of 17. Her parents, Levina Fish and Isaac Denison, Jr. had 12 children and these children were probably were encouraged to move out of the family home in downtown Mystic (Stonington) where her parents lived after moving from the family farm. 

So many people, who live in the area of these three places have helped me understand the places of residence and the timeline of this last big family. Dudley and Eliza only had three children, and lost one of those three in childhood. Their daughter, Fannie and her husband, did not have children, so I am alone now as the only descendant.

I feel they are a special couple in my research and I talk to them when I go to the cemetery. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sentimental Sunday: Life is a Series of Moments

Sentimental Sunday: Life is a Series of Moments

Dinner Conversation

Recently in an episode of Inspector Lewis, a PBS series which is ending, a conversation which happened in a car, had a lot of meaning for me. The retired detective says to the newly promoted man, "Life is a Series of Moments". 

Some things that happen in our family history are really memorable for just a few minutes but because times change, can be really memorable later on to next generations. I propose that we blog about them for others to read. Here's my first one.

My mother went to Lasell (Junior) College for two years, then, it was boarding school for young ladies that had completed high school. She hated it. It was too academic and not enough art. The girls around her were, as we call it today, "clueless". The young women were required to dress for dinner and sit at tables and make polite conversation about the food by speaking the foreign language they learned in high school. My mother took Spanish for two years in high school. 

The girl assigned to my mother's table was not prepared for such an environment. In a stage whisper, after looking at the food in bowls on the table and fearing starvation, she said to my mother, "How do you say, Chili Con Carne in Spanish? My mother used this story for decades at our holiday dinners. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Providence City Directory, 1919, p. 1081
located via One Rhode Island Family's blog which led to the Internet Archive

Every genealogist and family historian should watch out for negative evidence and when they find it, they should make sure that it is as well documented for future generations so that it will not become fact later on.

I have been working hard all summer on learning as much as I can about my maternal grandfather's business dealings.  Along the way, over the years, I have enlisted the help of many people who have joined this quest. Recently, I have found many quality new-to-me pieces of evidence but this ad in the Providence City Directory of 1913, makes me see red. 

Title Page

Diane Boumenot's One Rhode Island Family is the first place I should have gone looking when I realized that by looking in Cranston, it was NOT enough. Diane's exceptionally fine work was the first place I should have gone. Cyr. St which corners on Montgomery Ave. is on the edge of Providence. I needed to look for evidence in PROVIDENCE. Diane's list sent me to a downloadable PDF of this 1919 Providence City Directory which had an ad. (I love the old ads, don't you?) By the way, Diane's family lived in this area, too.

This is the present day street sign cropped from the Google "street view" so that I can be sure I am looking at the whole street and not just at the junction of the two streets.

I spent an entire day with Google Maps going up and down present day Cyr. St. in Washington Park on the Providence-Cranston city line making sure that the above artist's drawing is NOT how my family business was laid out. The building in the artist's rendering looks plausible because the business did have a side entrance until 1958. There was a smoke stack. There was a fenced in yard behind the original building (called "the Plant"). But, none of the other buildings shown were there. It was a residential area with houses on both sides on Cyr and Montgomery. At least I could enlarge this ad enough to see that it is hand drawn. 

My grandfather took part of the business to Providence early on. He commuted from Westerly to Providence, picking up laundry and dry cleaning round trip. The very earliest I can find is the first store at 285 Weybossett St. in downtown Providence. 

See what I never noticed, the address on the side of the truck shown below? I know that this must have been between 1907 and 1913. I continue to search the City directories for ads and listings. If only this truck could talk. Be careful of artist's renderings!

Family Photo Collection of Midge Frazel, privately held.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sentimental Sunday: Finding Obituaries

Frazel Family Collection, 2016
The Death of George CRAIG and his wife Yvonne PICARD

This week, I sent my husband downstairs "to the archives" in our house to go through his father's memory box. When my my mother-in law passed away, my husband had the sad task of cleaning out their apartment. His father, already in a nursing home, never asked about their belongings because we think he couldn't hear or understand well enough to accept that his wife passed away before him.

My mother-in-law saved a lot of obituaries and as I scanned and organized them, I noticed that two were missing. She must have put them in with her husband's memory box. As the Providence Journal charges for archived documents, I am glad to have these. 

There isn't anything in these obituaries that I didn't know except for the wife's living siblings. As they were a French Canadian family living in Rhode Island, I have not as yet found out much about this Picard family. I have her parents and possible grandparents.

Find-a-Grave does tell me that they are buried in the cemetery listed. It is a huge cemetery and there is no photograph of their gravestones. The list of requests in the cemetery is quite long. But, from Find-a-Grave, I now have an address and the listing that this cemetery is Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Warren #9.

Their son and his wife went to the same college that I did, and I knew them before I knew my husband. Sadly, they are not techno-literate so we only have their phone number and address. They do not know the exact date when George and Yvonne got married. I really was hoping it was in the obituary of one of them.