Wednesday, January 29, 2014


This morning I found a scrapbook that appears to have belonged to my father, Stewart Taylor.  Inside, I discovered the following photograph:

There was no identification on the photograph, but other nearby photos in the album showed young men and women carrying books and strolling along what seems to be a college campus.

Many years ago--probably in the late 1930s--my father attended Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts, and I wondered if this was a photograph from his days spent there. After much searching in the Springfield College Digital Collections, I found the following photograph of Alumni Hall.  It was taken many years after my father’s attendance, but it appears to be the same building. The unusual turrets helped me identify it.

The following is another photo from my dad's scrapbook--this one actually has writing on the back:

I am impressed at how neat the desk was and that the wall was decorated. Note the can of Sir Walter Raleigh tobacco and the pipe. Like many men in his generation, my father was a smoker, although his taste changed to cigarettes later in life.

The banner on the wall appears to be the Royal Arms of Great Britain, an interesting choice.  I wish I could read the titles of the books.

There is so much we don't know about our ancestors. If we are fortunate, they left us photographs, diaries, scrapbooks and letters. Unfortunately, there are many people who have been left no clues about their ancestors--not even their names.  I love learning about the people who came before me and want to help others learn about their heritage.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


f you have older family members, you need to take the time to ask them questions about their history. Don’t let the opportunity pass! Unfortunately, my parents are gone. I remember hearing various genealogical comments made by them while I was growing up, but it was just background noise. My interest in family history came much later in life.  I vaguely recall one of my parents saying that we were distantly related to “Wild Bill Hickok” or was it “Buffalo Bill Cody”?  It is too late to ask. If only I had written things down.

Many older family members will welcome the opportunity to talk about their lives. They will relish the interest and enjoy the reminiscing. Others will not want to discuss too much about their background. Perhaps there is a family secret they don’t want to divulge—a bad experience during the war, an illegitimate child, a divorce, a criminal in the family, a draft dodger and many more possibilities.  When you get resistance from a family member, back off and respect their privacy. Always protect the privacy of the living.

As for the chattier folks, here are some websites that offer excellent questions you can ask your relatives:
  • "Interview Questions" compiled by Tracey Carrington Converse

  • "Family Interview Questions To Ask Your Relatives"

  • "Good Questions for Family Interviews"

  • "52 Questions in 52 Weeks" by Steve Anderson

  • "Interviewing Mom and Grandma: Oral History Tips"  by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack

  • "20 Questions for Interviewing Relatives"

  • "Fifty Questions for Family History Interviews: What to Ask the Relatives" by Kimberly Powell

  • "A Family History Questionnaire" by Virginia Allee

  • Interview Questions from the Learning Center

  • "Conducting Family History Interviews"

You may want to use a recorder to capture the conversation. Of course, permission must be granted first. Perhaps the person would be more comfortable with your taking notes. 

Allow your family member to talk uninterrupted unless you feel the interview is going off course, in which case you can gently nudge them in a different direction.  Be attentive. Listen. And, by all means, turn off the ringer on your cell phone.

Don’t forget to ask if there are photographs, a family Bible, scrapbooks, certificates or some other family treasure. Because the person may not let you borrow these possessions, you should come prepared to photograph them, if only with your cell phone.  At Christmas I photographed nearly 50 old pictures of my husband’s family. I then e-mailed them to family members at their request. It is advisable to share photographs so that there will be extra copies in case of a disaster.  Even a photograph of a photograph is better than nothing.

Some relatives live far away and you won’t be able to sit with them. In that case, you can conduct the interview by telephone or, if they are technologically oriented, you could do it via e-mail, FaceTime, Skype or some other method. You could even send a letter with questions that can be answered and returned to you; include a self-addressed stamped envelope to make it easier on them and to also increase the chances of your getting a letter back. 

Good luck interviewing the older folks in your family. They have information that is hard, if not impossible, to find in archives or on the Internet. 


Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "1200 Ornamental Letters," 2007.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "1100 Pictorial Symbols, " 2007.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "East Meets West: Art Deco Motifs," 2010.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014


started wondering the other day why I am committed to maintaining a genealogy blog, and here are some of my reasons:


My mother and aunts were artists. They weren’t famous, but they enjoyed their hobby and were pretty talented. I enjoy sharing their work in my blog. Many of my Wordless Wednesday posts contain pictures of family artwork. This is one of the reasons I decided to name my blog “The Art of Genealogy.” See, for example:


Many people, including family members, don’t have the patience or desire to sort through hundreds of Internet sites, tromp through graveyards, spend days in a library or fiddle with microfiche. Because I love all of those activities, I have found fascinating information about my family.  I want to share it with them in short bursts of information (blog posts) so that it is easily digested and not overwhelming. I want them to know about the people who came before them.  Here are a few samples:


Since I started blogging I have found many cousins who are scattered throughout the United States and Canada. This has resulted in new friendships and shared information. A blog puts keywords and surnames in cyberspace, and others may "catch" this information in their search for family. 


Most people have family treasures—quilts, samplers, jewelry and more. Just watch Antiques Roadshow and you will be amazed at the items people possess that have been handed down in their families for years. A blog is the great way to show the world the cool family objects that you own. Here are some of mine:


Many of my family members were in the military, and I want to honor their dedication to their country by displaying items I have found that pertain to their service. Here are some examples:


My mother left me dozens of scrapbooks filled with vintage photographs .  Why keep them all to myself? Here are some of the old, and sometimes humorous, photos I have posted:

Jane Williams Cutler Taylor


There are countless libraries throughout the U.S. filled with amazing information. These wonderful repositories need to be publicized and utilized. Here are some of the ones I have had the pleasure of visiting:
Allen County Public Library
Fort Wayne, Indiana


There are so many genealogy conferences in this country and in nearby Canada that one could literally do nothing but travel from one to another and never come up for air. They are so much fun to attend. There is the camaraderie of being with other genealogy nuts, the knowledgeable speakers and the vendor halls filled with publications awaiting your credit card. These are blog posts about some of the conferences I have attended:


I subscribe to numerous genealogy subscription databases and want to share my thoughts with others who are contemplating spending their hard-earned money on these pay sites. Here are a few of my reviews:


The amount of free genealogical information available online is staggering.  I like to share some of the sources I have discovered so that others can explore them too. See, for example:


We all have at least one mystery in our family that we are dying to solve. Occasionally, I will find a significant clue to resolving my brick walls, and I love to share that discovery. At other times I have found a family member by accident. These are some examples of my success stories:


I belong to a number of genealogical and historical societies in the places where my ancestors resided. The membership costs are nominal, and the benefits are fabulous.  These organizations need your support.  Here are two examples of how membership has paid off for me:


I love combing through old newspapers. It is a time-consuming process but well worth the hunt. The following are some of the blog posts I have published that reveal the results of my sleuthing:


In addition to online sources, there are old-fashioned books. I love books and possess bookcases and bookcases overflowing with them. Here are some of the books I have chatted about:


We all know that disasters can happen (tornadoes, floods, fires and more), but we often don’t think it will happen to us. By posting your precious photographs and hard-earned research online, you have a backup for your information. Also, if I am in a library and need the birth date of my Uncle Fred, I can Google “The Art of Genealogy Fred Boyser” and there it is!

So, what do you think, have I convinced you that genealogy blogs are worth the time and trouble?


Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "Victorian Decorative Letters," 1999.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "Full-Color Men and Women Illustrations," 2001.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "Victorian Goods and Merchandise," 2006.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014


esterday, I attended a joint meeting of the Oakland County Genealogical Society ( and the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research ( The meeting was held at the beautiful Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills. The speaker was Curt Witcher, Genealogy Center Manager at the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana ( His topic was “Migratory Routes to Michigan and the Midwest.” This topic was of special interest to me because I just completed a course entitled “US Migration Patterns” at the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (

Christ Church Cranbrook
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Mr. Witcher discussed the push and pull concept that governed our ancestors’ movements. Push factors are the reasons people leave an area (crime, war, etc.), and pull factors are why people go to an area (fertile land, better climate, etc.) Were they fleeing military service? Were they being persecuted because of their religion? Did they want to join friends and family who had moved? All these factors have to be considered when analyzing your ancestors’ movements. Mr. Witcher stressed the need to understand history. 

He mentioned several valuable books and websites to explore, including one I use all the time—the Family Search Wiki ( Mr. Witcher said that local and church histories can give you clues about the migration patterns of those who lived long ago.  While they often contain errors, these histories can be very helpful. I have found this to be true. For example, in the “History of Norwich” (, I found a reference to my Crandall line moving to New York from Connecticut. 

The speaker also encouraged the use of maps to track your ancestors’ movements. I possess a copy of the book entitled Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses: 1790-1920 by William Thorndale and William Dollarhide, and this has helped me visualize an area at a specific time. State and county boundaries changed frequently, and having an awareness of that fact will help you locate your people more quickly.

Christ Church Cranbrook
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Mr. Witcher mentioned a number of books on Dutch immigration to Michigan, including Faith and Family: Dutch Immigration and Settlement in the United States, 1820-1920 ( This was of interest because my husband’s grandmother’s family migrated from The Netherlands to Holland, Michigan.  

One website he told us about that I had not seen before was  “Michigan Fever” (  Be sure to check it out if you have ancestors who came to Michigan.

A useful website I have found is called “Migrations” (  It has numerous links to migration in Ohio and Pennsylvania, migration of gypsies, Quaker migration, German migration, orphan trains, Westward migration and much more. There are also other, more general, links such as map collections and the United States Census Bureau.

Mr. Witcher spoke about the importance of newspaper research.  I discovered on Old Fulton NY Postcards ( that the Rome, New York Roman Citizen newspaper carried a section called “Migratory.” Using Boolean logic, I searched for “migratory /50 Rome and NOT bird.” This Migratory column contained news of people who were relocating to another location or simply visiting people in other towns. For example, I found this notice for someone who is not one of my ancestors:


There was so much more material covered yesterday... What a fine way to spend a drizzly, cold day in Michigan. Thank you, Curt Witcher, the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research and the Oakland County Genealogical Society!


Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "Victorian Decorative Letters," 1999.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "1268 Old-Time Cuts and Ornaments," 2006.


(1) “Migratory,” Rome Semi-Weekly Citizen (New York), 22 Nov 1890, p. [not given], col. 4; digital image, Old Fulton NY Post Cards ( : accessed 12 Jan 2014).

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sunday, January 5, 2014


uring World War II, my father, Stewart V. TAYLOR, wrote many letters to my mother, and I have at least a hundred of them.  Occasionally, I pick one up and read it. This morning I read one dated April 5, 1943, and came upon the following amusing passage:

My cousin was an agricultural teacher before he went into the Army, but you would like him. He was so ugly at times, and I got a kick out of him. He fell down stairs one night about three years ago and broke the landing at the foot. It was 4:30 A.M. and it woke me up so you can imagine the crash it made. I never laughed so much in all my life and Uncle Will was so mad he could have eaten a nail. Ever since then I’ve called him "Power Drive Taylor." (1)

William Mark Taylor

I believe that Uncle Will was William Mark TAYLOR, my grand uncle. According to his World War I draft registration card, William was born in Oneida County, New York on February 28, 1886. (2)  William’s parents were John Henry TAYLOR and Charlotte Elizabeth SCRIPTURE. William married Mabel Jennings and together they had two sons, John Clarence TAYLOR and Spencer Wayne TAYLOR. After Mabel died, William married Margaret Wilson.

All of the New York State and federal censuses from 1900 until 1930 list William as a farmer. On the 1940 U.S. Census, William’s occupation is that of dog warden. (3)  I did a blog post on William’s dog warden occupation several months ago. See

I was hoping to find a reference to William working as an agricultural teacher, but I did not. Since he had plenty of experience farming, he could have taught agriculture for added income. 

William would die six years after the date of my father’s letter on 18 Nov 1949. (4) He died before I was born, so I never met him. William died at the age of 63. My father died at the age of 64.

Letters can be a great source of family information. If you are lucky enough to have old letters, be sure to read, appreciate and preserve them. Mine are locked in fire-proof boxes.


Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, Victorian Decorative Letters, 1999.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, 1100 Pictorial Symbols, 2007.


(1) Letter dated April 5, 1943 to Jane Cutler from Stewart V. Taylor. Letter in possession of daughter, Karin Hadden.

(2) “U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” digital images, ( : accessed 1 Jan 2014), card for William Mark Taylor, serial no. 2524, Draft Board 2, Boonville, Oneida County, New York; citing National Archives microfilm M1509, roll 1818605.

(3) 1940 U.S. Census, Oneida County, New York, population schedule, Westmoreland, enumeration schedule (ED) 33-103, p. 12B (penned and stamped), household 259, line 59, William Taylor; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 1 Jan 2014); citing National Archives microfilm T627, roll 2702.

(4) “W. M. Taylor, 63, Succumbs,” Rome, New York Daily Sentinel, 19 Nov 1949, p. 11, col. 1; digital image, Old Fulton NY Post Cards ( : accessed 1 Jan 2014).

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


In addition to New Year’s resolutions in my personal life, I have compiled the following list of resolutions for my genealogy life:

Read more scholarly genealogical journals and periodicals, such as The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. I subscribe to all these journals but often, because of time constraints, they get put on my bookshelf and are forgotten.

Add more sources to my online tree. I must confess that in the rush to add ancestors, I sometimes neglect to add sources. Fortunately, I keep paper records of information I have added. I’ll have to go through my surname binders and update my tree.

Finish the genealogy program at National Institute for Genealogical Studies (  I have taken 16 courses so far. I need to ramp up how frequently I enroll in classes so that I will graduate before I become an ancestor myself.

Utilize a variety of genealogical databases. I like and tend to use it the most. However, I also subscribe to,,,, and more.  If I don’t use the other subscriptions more, then I should cancel them.

Take the time to order more microforms from the Family History Library ( I have had great success in the past with microfilm and microfiche I have ordered.

Discipline myself to always prepare research plans before researching a family line. Although this step takes quite a bit of time, in the long run it is well worth the trouble. Research plans keep you organized and on track. 

Use wildcards and search operators more frequently. Because wildcards and search operators vary from database to database, I often fail to use them because I can’t remember which one is appropriate. I need to compile a “cheat sheet” that will quickly show me which wildcards and operators work on each program.

Explore my Southern lines more. Thanks to my dad, I have many ancestors from Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, Arkansas, North Carolina and Georgia.   Perhaps because I grew up in the Northeast and have lived in Northern cities, I have tended to focus on my New England and New York ancestors.  I need to spend more time on the following Southern surnames: Allred, Beall, Bean, Bowie, Brashear, Horner, Kimbrough, Magruder, Prather, Russell and Turner.

Watch educational videos, such as:

Read more genealogy books. I have piles of books I have ordered but, for lack of time, have not read.

That’s it! Wish me luck.

Happy New Year to all my readers!


Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, Full-Color Holiday Vignettes, 2001.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, Full-Color Old-Time Vignettes, 2002.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, 1100 Pictorial Symbols, 2007.