Shopping the sales

Besides genealogy, I'm a hard core Target shopper. I know the markdown schedules and I know the seasonal rotation. I buy things for cemetery decoration at 90% off at Christmas. This year, everyone's getting bows that I'm making from a ribbon spool I got for 99c. (reg 9.99!) You have to do that when you have a lot of ancestors, or you would go broke!

I wanted to bring your attention to the fact that Target's 'back to the dorm' line is 30% off now. This includes.. yes.. wait for it.. the gentle plastic bristled grave cleaning scrubbers! I picked up a new one for 68 c (reg 99, ha!) even thought I'm pretty sure I don't need it. You'd be suprised at the things you can find there for genealogy if you know the 'season' they are in and can stock up.



FGS Conference in Philly

I'm not at the FGS Genealogy Conference in Philly this week. Why not? It's because I don't go to conventions unless someone pays me to speak at them. I feel they're a waste of time.

I also couldn't justify spending approximately $150 to go when I could have spent it finishing a deceased relative's tombstone.

I looked over the brochure a few months ago. I think a lot of classes could be eliminated if the people who took them spent a few minutes on the internet.

A Few Examples:

F-137: Using the NJ Room at the Alexander Library- Rutgers University
Michelle Chubenko
An overview of the genealogical resources held within Special Collections and University Archives.

I see Michelle all the time at the NJ State Archives and I know she is a fine genealogist. But this class, really? I've been to the Alexander Library. The card catalog is on computer or a card file for names in the corner. You find this out within 2 seconds of telling the people at the desk that you're new to the place. Their holdings are also online on Rutgers's website. The hardest part about going to the library is finding metered parking since it is across from the student center.

F-109: Wills & Probate Will Be the Death of Me
Angela McComas

Learn how to find indexes of courthouse records, microfilmed records and how to read a will.

I find a will is pretty straightforward if you have command of the English language. What words you don't know, you can look up. You can find indexes of the courthouse records at the courthouse or you can google them to see what other repository they are at. Then you can go there. I just saved you 1 hr of your life.


F-135: Photography Workshop. ($15 supply fee) Limited enrollment. Advanced Registration required!
Maureen A. Taylor
Got a question about a family photograph? This workshop covers both identification and preservation of family pictures.

Save your $15 and buy something from Archival Methods that it will fit into. As for identification, if you don't know who the person is and have compared it to everyone else's photo collection in your family (and I mean all the distant cousins), you could probably find out when it was taken based on dress and photography studio with a little use of good ole google.

and I will close with my personal favorite.....

F-132: Overlooked Census Data: Reading Those Orphan Columns
Carolyn Earle Billingsley

Genealogists tend to read census returns for names, relationships, etc. There are many columns of information that are overlooked, and which can be useful.

Look at all the columns in the census. Now go use that hour of your life to do further research on your distant relative.



Unclaimed Persons (rant)

It happened again.

As many of you know, I help out on the Unclaimed Persons Facebook Group. We are given cases from coroners where they cannot find the next of kin for persons who have died. Usually these cases are a few months to a few years old. We all spend hours on these cases for free in order to help these "lost souls" be reunited with their family.

It is the Coroner's job to make a "good faith effort" to find the family. When that fails, they turn the case over to us as we have a different skill set.

According to the youtube video introducing the problem, a death investigator will go through the deceased's dwelling, mail, personal property, computer to look for names and relatives, and get a copy of his phone records. They will then call the people they've been calling to see if they're related. They talk to neighbors, mailmen, and call area hospitals. If the coroner has to go through a court process to get that person buried, they sometimes sit in the morgue for two, sometimes three months.

We just got a new case where the person died on 27 Aug 2008. That was Wednesday, less than a week ago. Thursday and Friday were the only working days that they had to go through the deceased's things. I doubt they could get the phone records that fast.

I feel as if my fellow genealogists and I are being taken advantage of. This is the third time it's happened. The first time it happened, I raised the issue, but was told that "It'd be nice to reunite the deceased with his family sooner rather than later."

I hear that the Coroner's offices are understaffed and have a lot of cases. I think that we should not help until a month has passed. They should not rely on us immediately. If they cannot handle this, they need to take issue with the persons in charge or the taxpayers and lobby for more staff. This problem is not going to go away and they're going to turn off kind volunteers like myself who will spend hours coming through newspaper articles and looking for the next of kin.

I like helping out and I think we do a great service, but I want us to be the last option, not the first. It makes me feel as if our generosity is being taken advantage of and I don't like that.




My mother just sent me an article about a Tampa Bay man installing a tombstone for his great great grandfather.

I'm currently saving up for tombstones for a bunch of my ancestors.  Right they have temporary funeral home markers that I purchased off ebay with laminated placards that I made.

I even have 16 blank flat markers that I was given from a local monument dealer that went out of business. I'm saving up to have those engraved for aunts/uncles/cousins who don't have a stone.

Aug302008 and the 1900 census did something in the past few days to the way they display search results for the 1900 census. For example, if I search Fra* Ayr* in Salem Co, NJ, not only will I get his listing, but I will get everyone in his household.

This annoys me because it's extra data I don't need. The household data in the column to the right of the name is enough for me. Why did they do this? Now I have pages to go through instead of just one.

I wish they'd change it back.


 View Record

Frances Ayres

Eva W

Upper Pittsgrove , Salem , New Jersey

Apr 1875

New Jersey



View Record

Eva W Ayres


Upper Pittsgrove , Salem , New Jersey

Oct 1876

New Jersey



View Record

Bertha Ayres

Eva W

Upper Pittsgrove , Salem , New Jersey

Aug 1895

New Jersey



View Record

Charles Ayres

Eva W

Upper Pittsgrove , Salem , New Jersey

Apr 1899

New Jersey




Census fun!

I was looking for Elizabeth Diament in the 1900 census. How was I supposed to find her when you have to have 3 characters before you use a * (wildcard) on ancestry.

1900 United States Federal Census
about Elizabeth D Di*Ent
Name: Elizabeth D Di*Ent
[Elizabeth D Dent]
[Elizabeth D VA*Ant]


Yay! I reached the year 1901 in the Letters Testamentary for Cumberland Co, NJ!! Only 500 more pages to go. The milestones is that now they use preprinted forms :)




"Great minds discuss ideas.
Average minds discuss events.
Small minds discuss people."

- Eleanor Roosevelt

And extraordinary minds discuss ideas about events involving dead people.



Broad St. Cemetery Update

It turns out they printed my three photos in the paper! Yay! They also said that a group went and sprayed Round-Up on August 16th. They must have sprayed only one area, because my Aunt Mary's section has a few stones with weeds taller than me!

I have another trick up my sleeve which I will implement next month. I'll let you know if it keeps the weeds out. It's going to remain secret for now :)



Letter to the editor (again)

I wrote in to the BEN Column in the Bridgeton News again. It should be in the paper tomorrow (Wed). I was down in South Jersey at my 3rd cousin 1x removed's widow's 100th birthday party. My, it was a gala affair! She was dancing and having a grand ole time. I finally got to meet several 4th cousins (and beyond) that I've been emailing for the past few years. I also changed the artificial flowers on some of my ancestors' graves.

And then.. I went to check on my cousin Ella. I've been battling Ella's weeds at the Broad Street Cemetery in Bridgeton for over 2 years. The cemetery could use better maintenance, but that's another story for another time. At least now they're mowing between the headstones and the footstones.

If any of you readers have suggestions for the weeds after looking at the pictures, I'd love to hear them!


 Hi BEN,

Remember our little discussion last September where you thought I might be exaggerating about the waist high weeds at my cousin Ella (Blew) Rammel's plot? Then I sent you the pictures.

Well, I went back last Sunday to check on her and part of the weeds was back! This time.. it was at least chest high! I took a picture for you before I cut it down and removed the roots. I was kneeling down with my loppers and it was falling on my head.

Before I cleaned it up:

This is what it looks like now:

I'm pretty excited that they're mowing behind the stones now.

In case you were wondering, I cut down all the overgrowth last year and this is a picture of me at the plot doing some tidying in April. If you notice, there aren't any weeds growing at all.

If anyone has any suggestions on how to keep the weeds out of her plot and the surrounding plots (other Rammel folks I'm not related to, but I'd like to make the whole area nice) for someone who lives in North Jersey and can't get down there every weekend, I'd love to hear them. I am far from an expert when it comes to this type of thing.