Day of The Dead – We Remember Il Morti

November 2, 2009 at 11:03 | Posted in Amore di Italia, ancestry, Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, DiCrocco, family history, family research, genealogy, Italy, Itri, Italy, memories, Tombstone Tuesday | 2 Comments
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Mama e Papa

Mama e Papa

 In Italy, All Saints Eve or Day of the Dead is  day of remembrance and honoring the dead. There is some slight confusion or mingling of the two days – November 1st celebrates the saints and November 2nd is to actually honor the dead. I figured today I would explain to those not familiar with some of the Italian traditions about cemeteries in Italy. Land is at a premium in Italy – available land is needed for farms and housing. Each town though has a walled cemetery usually set outside the main part of town. Inside the walls of the cemetery are considered consecrated land having been blessed by the priest. There is usually an area where smaller metal or wooden crosses adorn the graves of those who cannot afford larger headstones. Headstones in Italy are often works of art with beautiful sculptures on them. Many also have an encased photograph of the deceased. The walls of the cemetery usually are also crypts for those who choose not to be buried in the ground. After approximately 20 years families will reuse the graves for others in the family. Bones of the buried are moved to what is called a bone room housed in the basement area of the chapel. This may seem morbid but is actually a matter of family honor. On this day once a year, everyone goes to the cemetery and honors their deceased ancestors! Flowers are everywhere including at the chapel. Families visit the graves often and bring flowers but this is a special day for everyone. Mass and prayers are offered up for all of the deceased. Sadly we Americans do not have anything of this nature and it is a shame. Our children are not taught to remember those who have gone before us. There is not an emphasis put on valuing what our ancestors did for us. In a land such as Italy where children understand that land and homes have passed from generation to generation, children learn of the sacrifices of their ancestors on behalf of family. It is the respect for family and history that endears Italy to so many of us. It is the call upon many of us to want to return to this sense of family and remembering with pride and gratitude that we understand forms the underpinnings of a civilization that will survive instead of merely exist until something else comes along to replace it.

So it was for me as my mother in law accepted and welcomed me to her family. I was never treated as only a daughter in law but I was loved as a daughter, a member of the family! Of course family has disagreements and times of strife but they are always family, always there to help, to liten, to offer advicde, to love! Famiglia!

Data Back Up Day November 1st

November 1, 2009 at 04:28 | Posted in ancestry, Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, family research, genealogy, Hints and Tips, memories | Leave a comment
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Today is Data Backup Day. In honor of this Geneabloggers is sponsoring a contest for all bloggers writing on the subject. Whether or not one is interested in contests, one should worry and therefore learn how to back up their data! We live in Florida – home to hurricanes and tornados. Anyone using a computer is running a risk of losing their information if they don’t take time to back it up! My personal desktop computer finally died an unhealthy and untimely death when least expected to. I have had several laptops over the years also die at inopportune moments! This journey became a forced lesson in backing up data for me! My present laptop is obviously a more secure one with hard drive protection against sudden shocks and drops. It is also password and fingertip scanned locked. Those afford a slight security advantage while travelling. However if stolen, my information could conceivably disappear too! SO I have taken time for contingency planning as if I were a major company. After all my genealogy, my books, and my blogs are my life’s work! First I use USB flash drives. Each is labeled and dedicated to a specific file type. Some contain all my photographs, some genealogy files, some research documents, etc. I also back up and save all files to CD. Each CD is labeled and stored away safely. Finally I also use a portable hard drive to back up all files. That is what I keep for myself. But the reality is that if I kept all of this just at my own home, it would be destroyed along with computers in any weather disaster or fire. So I have gone a bit further. Each of our sons also has copies of photographs and genealogy files as does another family member. Also some files are stored online. Recreating all of my work of the last 15 years would not be easy but it could be done as a result of contingency planning. All of this also includes my blogs. Each post is saved along with photographs and accompanying work sources! Printed copies of all my work also exist and copies kept my more than one person. Will I ever need to use any of this? Will I ever need to use any of this? Perhaps not although thanks to computer crashes, I have used it before. Waiting until I did need it would have been too late! I am now actively scanning all older family photographs. I have saved all our children’s photos but now I am scanning older generations. I realized we own some of the only existing photographs of deceased family members. One disaster would mean these would be lost forever to future generations. My scanning will include old 35 mm slides as well as making some digital captures of old movies and VCR tapes. This is of course very time consuming but well worth the memories they will provide for the future generations. They probably will not have access to old 8 mm projectors or 35 mm slide projectors. Even VCRs are disappearing from most homes! Passing on DVD copies of these older relics will allow great greats to hear as well as see ancestors! This will bring family to life for them in ways I can only wish existed for me of those from one or two hundred years ago! In doing this, it will be important to not trust only one original copy. Disaster can strike at any time and it would be a shame to not be able to save these memories! Think in terms of sudden storms or wildfires such as California has suffered through – or perhaps earthquakes! No area of the US is safe from some form of weather or climate emergency – in fact every country has such disasters! Be prepared! BACK UP THOSE PRECIOUS RESEARCH FILES AND PHOTOGRAPHS! Back up all of your work including blogs and remember to save a file with source data too!

Looking Back – Monday Madness 9/28/09

September 28, 2009 at 00:01 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family history, Madness Monday, memories | Leave a comment
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One of the hardest things for me in blogging is to look back over my life objectively. It’s not that I don’t – especially every time we hear another horror story or train wreck of a celeb life story. I consider myself normal (most of the time anyway) and reasonably attractive (except if you catch me sans makeup and curling iron). I even consider myself relatively intelligent (although my sons will swear in every argument that I am not, convinced I know NOTHING). I’m even friendly and mostly happy so why is it so difficult to look backwards objectively?

My childhood was an extremely happy one. By most standards it was a blessed one too. The only thing I was ever denied was a horse of my own and my parents were probably right about that! My toy box was full, my book shelves, over full, my closet over stuffed, and the food pantry was too.

My mother was more than just a stay at home mom. She kept an immaculate home that I still can’t match even at her age now. She was a sensational cook. Her cooking skills were written up in the newspapers on more than one occasion and her parties were the ones everyone wanted an invite to. She was an award winning floral arranger and an artist. Her poetry was honored and treasured. Name the organization and she served in some official capacity at least once for them. All of this while never neglecting her family or husband. I still wonder how she found the time and the energy to accomplish half of what she did so effortlessly and unselfishly. Amazingly she was not one to toot her own horn; rather, she was humble and gentle. Her friends adored her and her enemies? Well I doubt she had any – at least no one admitted to being one!

I’m not sure I can say the same about myself although I am embarrassed to call attention to myself usually. I’m sure I have managed to make a few enemies along the way although I do have wonderful friendships that I have kept since childhood. I wasn’t a perfect child by any means and I know I tested my parents and their limits. My parents gave us limits and standards and moral codes and spiritual values to live by. My grandmother passed one gentle spiritual statement on to her children that my mother in turn passed to us: If the Lord were to walk in the room right now, would you be embarrassed? Well, He’s already here! That pretty much settled most issues for me before they became issues.

I am willing to brag about being a good wife and mother. I’m learning to be a good grandmother and a decent mother in law too. I’m a very good sister in law. But all of those titles are the result of having a great husband, good sons, darling granddaughters, precious daughters in law, and awesome in laws. As I look back it is hard to find anything to complain about. Rather I am astonished at how it all sounds unreal when I find the truth is more impressive even than my memories. I have been and continue to be blessed and grateful for those blessings!

Wordless Wednesday 9 – 23 – 09

September 23, 2009 at 16:30 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, Wordless Wednesday | 1 Comment
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Another of my dad

Another of my dad

                                                                                                          With his mom

Window Perch

On Steps

Furry Friends Friday 9/18/09

September 18, 2009 at 00:01 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, Furry Friends Friday, memories, Wenz Hammerlee | Leave a comment
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Dad with Pony

Dad with Pony

Treasure Chest Rethink 9/17/09

September 17, 2009 at 00:02 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family history, family research, genealogy, Hints and Tips, memories, Treasure Chest Thursday | 4 Comments
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It’s hurricane season here in Florida again. California is still suffering though wildfires. And of course overseas many of you also worry through tsunamis and earthquakes too. How many of you consider from time to time what you would save if you had only minutes or less to evacuate your home? What if you weren’t hone and unable to save anything? I used to tell my family to save as many photographs as possible – everything else could be replaced. But overtime my opinion has changed sharply. Our family research has consumed over ten years of my life now. Every bit of free time I could, I would spend searching online or reading the rolls of microfilm as the local FHL. I’ve finally written a family history book and have started more. There’s also the tree itself in book format filled with photographs and timeless bits of history and timelines. Then there are notebooks full of all my research, color coded and cross indexed to ease my research. And photographs! Wondrous old photographs! And crisp clear new ones! Thousands of photographs literally. So all of this has meant I needed to rethink my strategy. First, I have begun the long process of scanning and labeling with names, dates, and locations all of our photographs. Then they are grouped and saved to a CD as well as backed up to a portable hard drive. Each of our sons has been given copies of all that are finished so far. I figured they would enjoy the ones from their childhood so I also gave them the originals applicable to each of them. (Helped clean out a cabinet too!) I have already scanned and labeled all the original documents and certificates and backed those up in similar fashion. Each son has been given complete sets of all family history I have completed to date and the books as well as photographs. So everything is protected in quadruplicate by a set going to each son in addition to my own backups. But I still wanted to preserve my own notes of the unfinished research. So I purchased a large plastic tub that seals tightly against water. It is kept inside my room in an easily accessible place. If we are hit with flooding, I have a chance to save everything. Everyone in my family knows about this plastic tub. All my CDs of photographs and certificates as well as the notebooks are kept in here. So now my family has their orders clear: save mom’s plastic treasure chest! Grab the laptop and grab the chest! Our lives obviously come first because they are irreplaceable – but the laptop and plastic treasure tub come closely behind!

Wordless Wednesday 9/16/09

September 16, 2009 at 11:03 | Posted in ancestry, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, Wenz Hammerlee, Wordless Wednesday | Leave a comment
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Wordless Wednesday: My dad with his granddad

Dad in Baby Carriage

Dad in Baby Carriage

Dad as Toddler

Dad as Toddler

Review of Family Tree Builder by MyHeritage

September 13, 2009 at 14:42 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, family research, genealogy, Hints and Tips, Reviews | 13 Comments
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Let me begin this post by stating I am not paid nor am I employed by MyHeritage. This is a personal review of a program I use for my research.

For years I used a software that I purchased. Every year I had to buy an upgrade if I wanted to stay current and I thought that was necessary. Then I started to read others on various websites complaining about prices and software glitches. A few folks mentioned losing entire files and that was frightening considering the amount of work I put into it. I also started reading other reviews on software out there and began to search to find another choice. About four years ago I came across MyHeritage known as Family Tree Builder™. They offer a free download as well as Premium service. I am going to be very honest here. I am cheap! I use the freebie download and am much happier with it than with the premium software I have paid a lot of money for!

 

Home page 

Home Page

Home Page

One of the issues that personally interested me was to find software that would be translatable to another language. We have most of our family still overseas and I wanted to be able to share information with them. This program allows you to choose any of over forty different languages! I took CD files of our GEDCOM to Italy, downloaded the free program to family computers and easily imported the family files. One click later I changed the language to Italian and viola! Now family could enjoy the research and continue on with more of their own!

This free program allows you to publish to a web page for your family. By a one click again, it automatically adds the family file to the website along with any photographs (more about those in a moment). You are limited in number by the free program versus the premium program. I still have been able to use this and get great results.

The nice part about the publish feature is that you can fix the personal setting to automatically update each time you work on the program offline. When finished adding your information, it signs you on and uploads the new information. No complicated FTP or other upload programs! When using this feature, you can also set the online preferences to be open so others can find you or make the site as private as you wish. I use a combination to keep living people’s names private but still be discoverable for potential matches out there. And yes, I have found family this way!

 

publish_en_us

publish_en_us

See those great little photo thumbnail shots? You can transfer as many photos as you choose or documents into the photograph folder and easily make a thumbnail of the favorite one to each person! I LOVE this! In one afternoon I transferred over 250 photos and assigned them to the proper person. That fast, that easy! My only complaint here? I wish it allowed an oval shaped crop of the photos and perhaps allowed some changes such as making photos sepia toned. It does accept any edit such as that if you did it ahead of time and then upload though. In addition to the ability to upload and organize photographs and documents, you can also upload videos. I haven’t tried that yet but am planning to soon.

Another nice feature is the maps portion of the software. If you enter as much information into the location fields for births, marriages, and deaths, the program searches worldwide locations and shows them. This is nice to familiarize everyone with where family originated and to trace their immigrations. It is especially nice for anyone compiling family history stories to be able to add this information via screen shots to your work!

 

maps_en_uk

maps_en_uk

One other feature available through the web is the toolbar. Now I know many folks do not like toolbar add-ons but this can be easily turned off or on. I happen to enjoy it allows for easy look-ups of SmartMatches™- a feature I have used to locate several great ancestor matches! Additionally there is a Family Chat™ feature. There is an easy to use event reminder to give alerts of special dates for family.

 

Family Toolbar

Family Toolbar

For the average user this software has a clean look and easy to navigate toolbar and buttons. For someone as a more advanced genealogist, this software also offers more in-depth features such as varied forms of making pedigree charts with as much or little information as preferred along with both ancestor and descendant charts. The area for notes allows as much or as little detail as one prefers. The citation/source area is easy for the beginner while allowing more detail for someone such as myself going into specifics of the sources. Again let me emphasize that some of the more detailed features are available only in the Premium version but I have yet to be totally stumped and left wanting in the free Basic version. I love the clean lines of the Family Group sheets that imbed a thumbnail photo of each person and follow with the notes entered on each person. The Pedigree chart also allows one to set number of generations and the amount of information you want to print. This is a great feature when printing to use for additional notes in my case.

Another important point for me is the ownership of my work. I have written one book for family and am in the process of additional work. It was brought to my attention that certain sites claim ownership of any work posted to their site. There was a recent outcry by several respected genealogists that one well known site in particular was using photos posted there in advertisements without permission of the posters. Some of the site disclaimers are confusing and misleading. I therefore asked for a clarification from My Heritage. I was assured that the site does not claim to own anything from its users. Further they stated that all rights to that information belongs to the user as stated in their policies. They graciously allowed me to reprint the following:

MyHeritage.com family sites
None of the personal, private information that is uploaded or entered on a MyHeritage.com family site by individual members is viewed by MyHeritage.com staff, or distributed to others outside of your site, except in rare cases involving reported abuse of our use policies or legal statutes. We do collect some data, always with your knowledge and consent, which is used to personalize the site for your convenience and for the benefit of other family members and friends who are included in your site.

A portion of this data, particularly that which reflects members’ lifestyles and interests, may be used in aggregate statistical form to attract potential sponsors and deliver advertising messages to appropriate users. For instance we may tell a prospective advertiser that 10,000 of our members have indicated an interest in tennis, and then distribute an attractive offer exclusively to those users.

In no case is the personal information about individual members sold or otherwise shared with advertisers, sponsors, partners or other 3rd parties. And under no circumstances is this information collected or distributed in any form without your prior knowledge and consent.”

The actual publicity release for Family Tree Builder 4.0 follows:

my Heritage

my Heritage

FINAL: To be released on August 13, 2009

 MYHERITAGE.COM ADDS MAPS TO ITS FAMILY HISTORY SUITE

 New version 4.0 of MyHeritage.com’s Family Tree Builder visualizes family history in colourful maps, and offers Family Chat™ in a new family toolbar

 London, England & Tel Aviv, IsraelAugust 13,
2009 – MyHeritage.com, a leading family and genealogy Website, today announced the release of Family Tree Builder 4.0. With more than 5 million downloads so far, Family Tree Builder is the world’s most popular free genealogy software, allowing seasoned pros and beginners alike to build family trees, research their family history, add photos and videos, and obtain unique Smart Matches™ with other family trees worldwide. The key improvements of the new version include a map module, a family toolbar with Family Chat™ and extensive support for albums to organize a family’s photos, videos and documents.

 

“In recent years we’ve seen a growing number of people who want to learn more about their ancestors and where they came from”, said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage.com. “With the new map module, people can get an appealing visual representation of their family’s life journeys. They can also map the addresses of family members, quickly find all events and photos associated with a particular place and even standardize place names using smart suggestions. This provides a fascinating new perspective for millions of people interested in their family history.”

 

The new family toolbar provides direct access to family sites on MyHeritage.com, adds powerful genealogy search and features Family Chat – a text, audio and video chat system built specifically for family use. Members also receive useful birthday reminders on the family toolbar without leaving the Web page they are on.

 

The Family Tree Builder software – free to download at http://www.myheritage.com/family-tree-builder – is already well respected by family history enthusiasts for its ease of use and excellent handling of photos and other digital media. The addition of albums for organizing photos, videos and documents makes it an even more useful tool. Family Tree Builder 4.0 also adds slideshows for showcasing family photos in appealing ways; and a new screen saver that displays family photos based on tagging and face recognition technology.

 

MyHeritage.com is a leading online destination for families, where people can find relatives, research family history, and stay connected with family members across the globe. In addition, MyHeritage.com offers automatic photo tagging technology that makes it easier to label, organize and search for digital photos, giving families another fun way to stay in touch.

 

About MyHeritage.com

MyHeritage.com was founded by a team of people who combine a passion for family history with the development of innovative technology. It is now one of the world’s leading online networks for families, and the second largest family history website. MyHeritage.com is available in 34 languages, is home to more than 33 million family members and hosts profiles of 360 million people.

For more information, visit www.myheritage.com or http://www.myheritage.com/family-tree-builder

For more information contact:

Paula Santos, Sparkpr for MyHeritage.com            

Mobile: +44 (0)779 551 8335                    

Email: paula@sparkpr.com                    

# # #

Nanny’s Knick Knack Shelf

September 3, 2009 at 08:12 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, Treasure Chest Thursday | 4 Comments
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I can remember visiting Nanny’s house. It was painted gray and it had a huge front porch – or at least it always seemed huge to me then. I can still remember the dining room, probably because of so many photos taken at that table of family gatherings. I can also remember the old kitchen with its big stove and double sinks. Most of the memories of the old house are fuzzy because I was so young then. Later Nanny would move to “The Apartments” where my parents lived as a young married couple. Later still she would move for a while to our home in Easton and then with a daughter in Florida until she remarried. Then she moved to a beautiful old brick townhome back in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Through all her moves, I can remember three things as constants in her life. The first was the can of evaporated milk with its metal lid that punched a hole for pouring in the top of the can. It always sat on her kitchen table with the jar of instant coffee ready for everyone to use. Then there was her blue willow teapot. So old its glazed was crackled and much too fragile to use but it was her mothers. It sat on the shelf, a reminder to her of her childhood. Now it sits on my shelf, a link to generations gone.

And then there was the little knick knack shelf, a corner stand made of mahogany. Standing about 5 foot tall, it fit snugly in a corner with its tri-corner design, narrowing as it went from the floor to the top. The sides and top were ornate scrolls. When Nanny didn’t know how to keep me busy, she would give me a cloth with old fashioned paste wax. I would set about dusting and polishing all the intricate scrolls. I never saw this as a punishment or chore but rather I loved to trace the edges with my fingers over and over. It was pure pleasure to go up and down each side. I could spend hours lovingly polishing and dusting for her. And foolish little child, I would always say to her, “Nanny, someday will this be mine? Promise?” I have no idea if she liked that little curiosity but it made all the moves with her from house to house to apartment. It was always in the corner of her living room and always used in spite of other furniture that came and went.

 

Nanny's Knick Knack Shelf

Nanny's Knick Knack Shelf

Then came the morning that Valentino and I along with my parents were making the big move from Connecticut to Florida. That last morning Nanny came with her husband, Grandpa Bob, to say goodbye. I suspect she worried if we would see one another again – although we did the following year after our second son, another great grandson for her, was born. We were struggling to fit everything into the moving vans. Even with the huge trucks, two households took plenty of room. Grandpa Bob opened the back door of his car and there was the little knick knack shelf laying across the back seat. Nanny insisted I had to take the shelf with me. She had saved it all those years for me. It was her reminder of our hours together and she wanted to know it was safely in my home and not get lost later in the confusion of breaking up her home when the time came.

I can’t imagine this old knick knack shelf having any great monetary value for anyone else. To me it is priceless. It sits proudly in the corner of our living room now. I still find immeasurable pleasure in tracing the scrolls as I dust and polish them. I smile and think back to those moments of quiet pleasure in my childhood. With my smiles are a few tears too as I think of Nanny, someone who I knew loved me unconditionally. She loved me enough to not let go of a little old knick knack shelf until it was time to pass on to me for my home. For all her faults, Nanny loved me and that shelf is my reminder each day that her love still encircles me just like the never ending circles of those scrolls.

Surname Saturday – My Side of the Family!

August 28, 2009 at 19:12 | Posted in Amore di Italia, ancestry, Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, family research, genealogy, Surname Saturday | Leave a comment
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Thought I would throw out a few more names we are always searching – but this time they are from my side of the family. My maternal line hails from Scotland and then Ireland – we are looking for Hyndman, Brown, Nelson, and Fleming there. They were in Edinborough, Glasgow, Johnstone, and a few later in PA.  My paternal line were from Germany. The surnames we are searching are Wenz, Schutte, Schatz, and Nagel amongst others. If any of those sound familiar, email and let’s find out if we’re connected or not!

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