Categories
Unique Visitors
23,402
Total Page Views
493,620
View Teri Hjelmstad's profile on LinkedIn
 

 
Archives

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

A House History

Earlier this month I needed to search through some old family photographs. I must confess that my photos lack organization. In fact, they are a mess. To find the ones I needed, I had to search through albums (mine and my mom’s) as well as piles and sacks of pictures I have collected over the years but have never taken time to store properly.

One rubber-banded group of snapshots caught my attention. I had forgotten that when we purchased our house, we received a stack of work-in-progress pictures taken when the home was built in 1992. I had tucked the pictures in a cupboard after we bought the place in 2011.

Now the question arises: Should I keep these?

They might prove useful for their X-ray views of the innards of my house. That is probably why the original owners passed them along.

Or I could hang on to them for historical reasons. My home is 25 years old this year. This anniversary would offer a good opportunity for documenting the building of my house, the changes to it over the years, and the people who have lived here. Perhaps I should create a house history using the pictures I found.

Entire websites dedicated to searching and recording a house history exist these days. People like to know the story of their homes. The search process takes time when one lives in an old house.

For my not-so-old house, the work would not take long. Starting with the photos I inherited, I could create a history of the property so far and then document any changes we make in the future. When we leave here someday, we would have a good history of the place to give the new owners.

This small project could mark a start on cleaning up my photo mess. Tackling all prints I have seems overwhelming. Pulling out one group and organizing it properly seems much more doable. A house history sounds like a good winter project.

Great American Eclipse

Did you join millions of your fellow Americans to watch the solar eclipse this week? I did.

Months ago we learned that our Casper, Wyoming hometown would sit in the path of totality for this event. What better excuse to have a family reunion?

We invited everyone we could think of to attend a viewing party at the home place, and many people accepted the invitation. We offered free places to stay with relatives while motel rooms were going for $2500 per night. Family members came in from Colorado, New Mexico, and New York for our eclipse party.

They say the population of Wyoming nearly doubled that day as people flooded in. For a time, Wyoming (normally the least-populated state) had more people than other small states such as Alaska, the Dakotas, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The little Natrona County airport handled private planes loaded with eclipse watchers landing every two minutes. We heard rumors that a Saudi prince came in to watch the eclipse from the tarmac.

We prepared for our viewing by collecting eclipse glasses and discarding any that were not properly certified. My granddaughter and I also made a projector box out of an old shoebox, a skill I had learned as a Cub Scout den leader when Colorado experienced a partial eclipse in the 90’s.

The fun began about 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning. People grabbed their special eclipse glasses and scanned the sun, trying out the glasses and waiting for the show to begin. It was not long before we could see a corner of the sun disappear.

When it was time for a snack, we served Moon Cake. My mother-in-law has served this at family gatherings for many years, so there was no question that we would eat it on this day. My sister-in-law baked three of them to make sure we had enough. You can find a recipe for it on allrecipes.com. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/19895/moon-cake/

As the eclipse progressed, we gathered everyone to take group photos, some with glasses, some without. We wanted to remember this day.

When the precious minutes of totality drew near, everyone quieted down as we all gazed at the sky. The air grew noticeably cooler. Finally, twilight descended, and the sun disappeared. Only a brilliant corona remained, and we experienced what appeared as a 365-degree sunset. We could see Venus in the sky above. Exuberant town residents celebrated by setting off fireworks.

I will never forget that moment. We all felt a little sad when the sun slowly began to reappear, and the unworldly vision ended.

My son and his family stayed for a picnic lunch and then prepared to head back home to Denver. Little did they know of the massive traffic tie-up they faced. Thousands left Casper and the surrounding area at the same time. Most needed to travel south on one of two thoroughfares—Interstate 25 or Wyoming Highway 487, a two-lane road. The usual 4-5 hour drive took my son 11 hours to get home. Traffic was backed up for hundreds of miles. Both Wyoming and Colorado urged people not to stop at the border to take selfies.

Luckily, I had the luxury of staying in Wyoming for one more day. My husband/tech advisor and I did some housecleaning at the old home place before we left. On the road home to the Denver area the next day, we encountered heavier traffic than usual but nothing like what had gone down those roads the day before.

We came home with great memories of a great American eclipse and family reunion.

 

Mourning Samson

Yesterday we lost a beloved canine member of our family, my son’s dog Samson. He had been part of our clan for ten years.

Can it have been that long since I received the telephone call about Samson from the animal shelter in San Antonio, Texas? I learned that my son, a newly-minted second lieutenant in the Army, wanted to adopt a rescue dog, a malnourished Great Pyrenees named Samson. Problem was that the Lieutenant had no permanent home address yet because he was on a short assignment at the time. The shelter wanted someone to agree to take Samson in the event the Lieutenant could not care for him. Would I do that? What?

“May I speak to the Lieutenant, please?” I asked.

Of course, he talked me into committing to giving Samson a home if he could not. He told me young Samson had suffered abuse and was severely underweight. With a thick, white fur coat, he suffered mightily in the Texas heat. My son promised to nurse him back to health and take him to his permanent base at Fort Drum later in the year. Fort Drum, where the Army does winter training. A much better location for a dog like Samson.

The Lieutenant was as good as his word, and I never had to take Samson in to my home. With proper care, he regained his health.

The big dog thrived in cold upstate New York, and he romped happily in the huge backyard my son provided for him. Over the next years, Samson oversaw the growth of a family—first a wife, and then three children. He adapted to new surroundings when the family moved to Colorado. All the while, he offered wonderful companionship to his family and served as a faithful watchdog.

Then his hips began to fail. Samson could no longer make mud wallows in the yard or frisk about in the snow. The day came when he could not walk outside to relieve himself on his own. We knew the time was coming to say good-bye to our fluffy friend.

Now he has joined all the other gone-but-not-forgotten doggy members of our family—Timmy, Daisy, Eric, Sam, Thor, Skye, Sunny, Mac, and Bailey. We miss them all.

In Memory of Mary Ann

For the fifth time this year, we have lost a family member. It has been a bad year.

Mary Ann was my daughter-in-law’s beloved grandmother, 83 years old. She lived miles away in Oklahoma, but she stayed closely in touch with her grandchildren. They spoke on the phone often, and the younger generation regularly received care packages from their grandma. They visited back and forth, too.

Mary Ann was one of the friendliest and most generous people I have known. She paid for preschool for her great-grandchildren as long as they attended a church-affiliated one.

A week ago, she missed her usual Sunday morning church service. Her fellow parishioners became concerned and sent someone to check. Of course they soon found that she would not be attending church with them anymore.

Today I will attend a memorial service for her here in Colorado, her long-time home before she retired in Oklahoma. It’s too bad she cannot be there in person to greet all of us. She would have loved a large family gathering. She and Charlie probably will watch from above.

Mary Ann, fondly remembered, sadly missed.

Our Genealogy Christmas Gifts

For the past several years, my husband/tech advisor and I have prepared genealogy-related Christmas gifts for our extended families. This gives us the incentive to digest our findings for the year and distribute the information. Here is what we will send out this year:

  • For the Hjelmstad and Walz descendants, a map detailing the European points of family origin in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. The map also shows emigrants’ ports of departure in Europe and ports of arrival in the United States.
  • For the Bentsen descendants, family group sheets and biographical sketches for the members of the Norwegian immigrant generation and a copy of the only photo I possess of one of the couples, Karen and Nick Bentsen.
  • For my husband’s Norwegian family, this year’s rosemåling Christmas ornament from the Sons of Norway. http://www.sofn.com/‎

Last night we put the finishing touches on our maps and documents. Everything will be ready to mail out soon!

The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly Facts on Moving to the New Family Tree

Last week I wrote about my wish to enable a smooth transfer of data from the genealogical software I use, The Master Genealogist, to the cloud site offered by Family Search. Here is a guest post from someone who knows a whole lot more about this complex issue than I do, my husband/tech advisor:

Many of us are looking for a place to save our research in case none of our relatives wants it. Most of us use a Genealogy program of some sort but many have already “taken the plunge” and gone to online programs.

 

Those of us who haven’t gone to an online program, and even some of those that have, face the issue of what’s going to happen to our hard work when we can’t do it anymore. If we don’t migrate ourselves, our research is subject to the vagaries of a family member taking it over or performing the migration plan we might have left behind. Web sites we’ve built with our research will go away when the contract is up, causing the data to be lost.

 

The only solutions:

 

· to plan on a transfer to a repository and hope the heirs will do it and will be able to do it,

 

· to have a family member who will take it over,

 

· to identify a repository and synchronize to it,

 

· to identify a repository and switch to using their on-line software.

 

I can hope that a family member will continue the work – but unlikely at this point – or that enough peripheral people are working in my areas to take my work and run with it, but the reality is that it most likely will fade away as the paid web site expires or the software it’s based on becomes unusable unless I start ensuring continuity now.

 

Because I don’t like making other people pay someone else to see my hard-won research, I’ve chosen the LDS New Family Tree (NFT) as my repository and would like to synchronize to it. I currently use The Master Genealogist (TMG) version 8. Oops, based on both past experience and asking questions, I don’t think synchronization is coming soon.

 

Basically, I’d love to stay with TMG as I like the program and know how to use it. But if there aren’t plans to start doing what all the other major Genealogy programs are doing – synchronizing to NFT. Rather than enter more data into a dead end program, I’ll have to move to a program that is keeping up with the Joneses. And I have about 300 Norwegian and Danish relatives and over 500 sources to enter – a very productive summer.

 

Two programs are “certified” for synchronization with NFT – RootsMagic (RM) and Ancestral Quest (AQ). However, there are different levels of certification. You can also upload GEDCOMs to NFT regularly to synchronize – but I’m giving away the plot. I guess I’ll consider moving to RM or AQ.

 

There are several good web blogs about the pain and anguish and advantages of moving from TMG to each. The bottom line is that both do a decent job of importing from TMG via GEDCOM. But, from what the blogs say, RM, AQ, and – it turns out – NFT do not “nicely move sources from TMG. NFT requires sources and if no sources are attached to a person, that person is not considered to be a “good” record. When a GEDCOM from TMG is uploaded to NFT, the TMG sources are treated as notes rather than sources. When other major Genealogy programs use their “direct” link, sources remain attached – but according to bloggers, I can expect problems here.

 

I’ve done some investigation into what Synchronization really means. Say I have grandpa, and so does NFT. NFT doesn’t have grandma or grandpa’s parents. For grandpa, I have 4 sources and NFT has 2.

 

 

· If I use TMG and GEDCOM – each record is added to FamilySearch and none are put in my NFT Tree. When I add a person to my Tree, the sources come as details. The details can’t be converted to sources. No siblings, parents, spouses, or children come along – even if they are there in the Person Record – I have to manually find and attach each one – just because they are on the Person Record doesn’t mean I can attach them from there. Basically entirely manual after a painful process to upload the GEDCOM – requires matching checking and verification and adding the record to FamilySearch one by one.

 

· While on GEDCOM to NFT – most FAM tags seem to be ignored after the first generation.

 

· If I move from TMG to RM or AQ and do a Synchronize – the only difference is that once I have the person in my Tree, source and details placed in RM or AQ will then be placed into the Person Record which is available to NFT. New siblings, parents, spouses, or children are not attached – I must Find them and attach them.

 

Basically, to use NFT requires me to start over and completely re-enter my tree and all my sources.

 

Of course when asked about this, they tell me that should only take an hour or so. [Insert here Words that can’t be printed.] I’m looking at a minimum of ½ hour for every source. 95% of my sources are not in FamilySearch. My grandfather born in 1877 in Norway and who came to the US at 14 months has two census records that FamilySearch has. I have 26 sources, of which 6 are “governmental”. There’s 12 hours of data entry. An afternoon, my left foot.

 

One good reason not to use Family Tree directly is that they don’t really support PDFs, and they don’t like “active” PDFs. All of my Norwegian documents from Arkivverket are active PDFs – if you click anywhere on the PDF, it takes you to the real original image location. A nice touch and one that TMG handles very nicely. Too bad Arkivverket doesn’t advertise it so other archives will start doing this..

 

Basically, since I’ve spent the summer getting all these source documents, I have to make a choice – hope that there will be a way to get them in Family Tree, give up on TMG and use a program that will put them in Family Tree, or just use Family Tree directly.

 

But I’d rather stay on TMG.

 

 

TONY HJELMSTAD

Cemetery Marker Photos Posted At Last

At the beginning of the year, I stated my goal of getting all my photos of cemetery markers under control. After a huge segue trip to Norway this summer that took me away from my original task for weeks, I am finally working on the photos again. My project had four steps:

  • Design a process for filing, digitizing, and publishing my pictures. I attended a couple of informative sessions offered by the Computer Interest Group of the Colorado Genealogical Society to learn ways to do this.
  • Scan all my photos and place them in digital folders organized by state, cemetery, and name. Put the prints into an archival album.
  • Copy all the cemetery marker images and store them as exhibits in my genealogy database, The Master Genealogist.
  • Upload my images and build memorials on http://www.findagrave.com.

This week I began the fourth step. I uploaded all my Colorado photos and built memorials for Ruth Anna Hansen Reed Brown and Ralph Willard Odom, both buried at Boulder’s Green Mountain Cemetery. Someone else had already built memorials for my other family members in that cemetery, Dean Reed and the Towers–Hazel, Walter, and Josephine. Memorials for family members at Ft. Logan (Robert Lloyd Reed) and Fountain (Robert H. Reed) had already been created as well. I had earlier put up a memorial for Thomas and Henrietta Reed, buried in Cañon City, right after I visited that cemetery a couple of years ago.

Now I am moving ahead to my Illinois photos. My father took these many years ago at Ashmore, Enon, and Reed cemeteries in Coles County. Our family pioneered in Illinois in the 1820’s, so there are a lot of these photos, and they will take some time.

I hope to finish uploading the photos and building memorials by the end of October. It feels good to know that whenever I visit another cemetery, I have a system in place for saving the images of the cemetery markers.

What is the Outlook for Genealogists?

People used to joke about when they would be “done” with their genealogy. The historical answer was “never” because you never run out of ancestors. Recently, though, I have found myself thinking about all the changes in the genealogy and family history world in recent years. Where will this technology-driven environment take us? Could genealogy be “done” in my lifetime?

I learned to do genealogy the old way. We joined local societies to learn how to do genealogical research. We kept voluminous notebooks of family group sheets and exhorted ourselves to write at least a letter per week soliciting information from relatives and vital records offices. We ordered microfilmed records from the Family History Center and occasionally drove over to Salt Lake City to use the huge genealogy library there. I felt blessed to live in the greater Denver area with its easy access to the wonderful Denver Public Library and branches of the BLM and the National Archives. Our goal was to produce a beautifully-bound book on our lineage. It took a lifetime to gather the information.

Nowadays, I keep my genealogical records electronically, and probably I will never write that book. I rarely visit the local repositories because I can find so much information online. The same goes for genealogy meetings. Instead of gleaning tips from speakers at the monthly meeting, I learn to do genealogy by attending seminars and conferences, or using the helpful materials on the LDS website https://familysearch.org/.

A huge genealogy industry has sprung up in recent years. Professional speakers traverse the country and vast websites offer valuable collections online. We even have genealogy television shows. Anyone willing to pay all the fees can reap a bonanza of records, educational materials and DNA results. Instead of compiling genealogy books, thousands of people use this largesse to add family lines to the collective world family tree.

So what happens when the world family tree is more or less done? What becomes of the genealogy hobby then? Will new genealogists spend most of their time verifying the work of others or collaborating to break down the remaining brick walls? Will people do genealogy at all if it means simply plugging oneself into the world tree developed by others?

Digitization of records and sharing of family information continues at breakneck speed. Most people can look at the compiled world tree and find some of their ancestors already listed. I think I will see the day when we have a complete database, at least for Americans. Will the world still need genealogists then?

Busy As Bees on Our Genealogy

We have had a lot going on in our genealogy world over the past week:

 

  • On Saturday, I attended the spring seminar put on by the Colorado chapter of the Palatines to America http://www.palam.org/colorado-palam-chapter.php. Kory Meyerink of ProGenealogists spoke on various topics. As always, they had a good turnout for this seminar. The gentleman sitting next to me traveled all the way from Tulsa, OK. I feel so privileged to live in a city where seminars of this high quality occur regularly.
  • On Tuesday, the Germanic Genealogical Society of Colorado held its monthly meeting at the Denver Public Library. We heard a presentation by our own Joe Beine who runs the Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records website http://www.deathindexes.com/ and the German Roots website http://www.germanroots.com/. These are wonderful genealogical resources.
  • All week long, my husband/tech advisor has doggedly used his lunch hours to search for my Norwegian roots. He has now learned that they lived all along the coastline of Nordland and Helgeland. But even more surprising, many of them lived in the Bergen area before that. No way can we visit every site during our trip to Norway next month. The poor man is now busy re-routing our driving trip to enable us to visit as many of these new areas as possible. Meanwhile, I have been entering his data into my software program as fast as I can.

Whew!

 

Say No to the Shotgun Approach

I find that I make more progress with my genealogical research when I focus on one familyline at a time. Recently I am feeling almost disoriented because I have not been following my own advice. All year, I have tried to find the discipline to study only the Finns, but I keep getting distracted.

Earlier this month, I went to Salt Lake City for a research trip. After one day with Finnish records, I needed a break from that difficult task. I spent the remainder of my time at the LDS library investigating my English and Scots-Irish lines in the American Midwest.

I resumed some Finnish research once I returned home, but a week later I attended the semi-annual Palatines to America seminar in Denver. This took my attention away from the Finns again as I spent an entire day learning about German research from Dr. Michael Lacopo.

What a harried month! The Finns, the English, the Scots-Irish, the Americans, the Germans! No wonder my head spins. I need to get everything I collected this month filed and put away pronto. Perhaps then I can get back to the focused research tool that works for me, the laser, not the shotgun.