Monday, July 22, 2013

My mother’s secret

My mother was adopted by her stepfather in June 1945 after her 18th birthday.  My mother was born in 1927 and her mother and stepfather were married in 1929. However, I was always told they were married in 1926.

According to a report dated 24 May 1945, my mother only knew of the adoption two or three days beforehand. I wonder what kind of emotions that my mother went through. She never mentioned that she knew about the adoption, but she hinted around it once to me.
When I was younger, she had mentioned that she had to appear before a judge to get a new birth certificate created. She stated that her birth certificate was destroyed in a fire. But now reading this report that I sent for, I realized she knew the whole time.  I wonder why she never told me this fact. I never met her father, he died many years before I was ever born and thus it would not really affect me.  It might have saved me many years of researching her “maiden” name, only to find out they are not blood related to me, they are legally related and that still means something.

The paperwork does not release the name of her father. However the following clues are found, he was 20 years old when my mother was born. He worked for a Lumber Company but doesn’t state the company name, but it also states that my mother’s grandfather worked for the Paine Lumber Company and the blank by her father’s employer matches the length for her grandfather’s employer. Perhaps this is how her parent’s met.
It also states that her mother lost all touch with him many years ago and once heard that he had married but she can’t be certain. She doesn’t know where he lives or if he is even still alive. But she never heard of his death either. He appeared normal mentally and seemed to be in good health. She does not know how far he went in school but he did not appear to be very well educated. He paid $250 for lying-in expenses (whatever that means) at the birth of my mother. He was Roman Catholic of Polish descent. He never wanted my mother at all and refused to have anything whatsoever to do with her. His parents also rejected the child.

I wonder how accurate the Polish descent is, since later it states that her mother’s father was of English descent when in fact he was of German descent.
I told my aunt, her only surviving sister (the youngest in the family). She stated that she knew this years before after her mother died, her other sister found my mother’s original birth certificate.  The question is where did this birth certificate disappear to? My aunt who has macular degeneration, stated she has many boxes of paperwork of her mother’s that was given to her by her sister, who was living with my grandmother at the time of her death. I told my aunt that I will be back next summer to organize her boxes. Her only two children are adopted and neither wants all this paperwork.  I pray that nothing happens to my aunt and I will be able to go through the boxes. She had some paperwork sorted, but not my mother’s birth certificate.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Naturalization Research

Monday, I went to Winnebago County, Wisconsin in search of my great-great-grandfather’s naturalization paperwork. To say the least, I was very disappointed. First of all, the courts don’t have anything; it was the University System that had the paperwork.

I drove to Oshkosh, found the Polk Library and then had to find a parking spot. The parking lot stated that you needed a parking permit. I walked the ½ block to the library; ask the person at the information desk, where I would get a parking permit. I was told it was the next street over. I was given a map, drove to where the visitor parking was and found that it was totally dug up and under construction. There was no parking in the street and thus I gave up and drove back to the library. I found 2 hour parking on the street and took it. I walked the ½ block back to the library, informed the person at the information desk that the parking lot is under construction and said that I just parked in the street because I didn’t think it would take more than 2 hours to find the paperwork.
I walked the three flights up the stairs, (boy am I out of shape). The research area was just off the stairs and I stumbled in, out of breath and signed in and filled out a form that I was there. I told the gal behind the counter what I was looking for and she directed me to the computers. She told me that they have a free lookup online, but I could not find it when I looked online earlier. I did a name search, found four hits and wrote them down.

These hits took me to the microfilm drawers and I was reminded how to use the microfilm reader (it has been a while), pulled my first hit which was just another index. I am not sure what the index was telling me. I looked up the next hit and found declaration for a man named William Gadow who arrived May of 1872, is 55 years of age as of 1900, which makes his date of birth about 1845. I printed out the find since I was told printing was free. YEAH! The next hit showed me another declaration for a Wm Gadow who was born in Germany on or about the year 1844, and that he emigrated to the US in 1873 and was dated 1886.
The fourth hit was for a declaration in Winnebago County and I was unable to find it on the microfilm roll.

The second hit is the one that closes matches my ancestor, since I have based on his death certificate that he was born, Aug 1844. But to be honest, how can I tell which one is my relative? The birth years are only one year apart and the arrival years too are only one year apart. Both forms where signed and their signatures are very different and unique. Therefore, I might need to find something with my ancestor’s signature on for me to determine which one is mine.
Therefore, it is important not to overlook paperwork that has your ancestor’s signature. It might be a letter or postcard he wrote to a love one or friend. How about a bill of lading for something he bought. I will have to look through my files, when I get back home and see if either one looks familiar.

The declaration I that have for William Gadow who arrived May of 1872 has two witnesses signatures and the names seem to be associated with another William Gadow  ( I have done brief research on another William Gadow) who lived in another part of Dodge County, Wisconsin where my Wilhelm/William Gadow lived; another reason to think that the second declaration may be for my person.
I was hoping there would be more information on my ancestor that I would have found in this paperwork. Such as his spouse’s name, or perhaps any children he may have had, since they all would have been given citizenship at the same time (automatically), since this was the practice during this time period. Perhaps there was more paperwork, but those files were nowhere to be found.

Friday, July 5, 2013

My first experience with

The other day I decided I wanted to use to publish my society’s newsletters. This year marks the 25th Volume of the newsletters. I am the new editor of the said newsletter. We do these newsletters electronically now; last year was the first full year trying the electronic version. The Society decided to go this route to save money on postage. I too like getting the newsletter electronically because I can save them into a folder for future reference.

This got me thinking about our old newsletters. In my society library, we have to large bank boxes with extra copies of the some of the newsletters. I asked the librarian who is also the society’s president, do we really need to keep all these old copies? She stated that some people want to look at the old copies. The boxes are not every issue, but we also have a file drawer full of past issues. I decided, I would scan these old issues and place them on one of the library’s computers (they can be copied to the other ones later). As I was scanning these old issues, I realized how far we have come electronically.
In the early years, the issues were done via typing, cutting, pasting and photocopying. I noticed many items were taped onto the master page and copies were made from this master. Thus, picture quality wasn’t the greatest. Also, the tape caused discoloration on some of the pages and no longer was holding anything in place. At that point, is when I decided I would scan these issues because in a few more years, it would only be worst. While scanning, I realized we were missing issues. Plus, the issues didn’t always have page numbers on them and thus, I don’t know if I scanned them in the correct order.

Over the next few months, every week on my volunteer day for the library, I would scan 1 to 2 years’ worth of issues.  I had to ask the prior editor for some of the final years newsletters, because I wasn’t receiving them electronically (they must have put my email address in wrong) and I had an almost complete set issues. In the early years it appears we are missing some issues, but since 1998, it appears we have every issue. Some of these issues would include supplement, bonus pages, and I wasn’t always consisted in placing them in the same spot. I would first put them in the middle of the newsletter. Then I would put them at the end. Finally I put them at the end of the year, as a supplemental issue. But I did manage to scan all the issues.
So with the issues on my flash drive, I decided last week to create a booklet with all the issues. I went into Lulu and it allows you to upload PDF’s. However, I ran across my first challenge of because it requires a FTP program to upload multiple files or I could just select each file individually and upload, which takes a lot of time.

I found a free FTP program and was able to select multiple files and upload them. But when I went to selected them for my project I hit a new snag, such as my PDF’s pages were not all the same size. Oops! I guess I wasn’t careful when scanning these newsletters and must have changed the size from page to page when I was cropping the pages.
So now I had to find a PDF program that could read my scans and make the pages all the same. I was able to download a free full functioning program and was able to combine all my PDFs into one big file. But when I saw it was 1011 pages long, (yikes) I decided I needed to divide these into smaller books. Lulu doesn’t really handle a book that big, (keep in mind that double pages would reduce this to 506 pages but still a big book. So once again, I selected some of my PDF’s and created a combined file but with less pages. I then had to figure out how to get the pages in the PDFs all the same size and was able to do that quickly.

I now found out that a file bigger than 300MB must be uploaded via a FTP program, and so back to the FTP program I went. I uploaded my four smaller files and started on my project again. Next snag was that my fonts were not embedded fonts. What? I was starting to get very frustrated at this point. So I went back to my PDF’s and read how to embed my fonts. I did this and also decided, I might want my own page numbers in these PDF’s and added those too!
Back to the FTP program and uploaded the files again! Started my project yet again and success! It read my PDF’s great. But wait, perhaps I need a table of contents. YIKES! So I went into WORD and created four separate; Table of Contents, going through each PDF and making sure I was referencing the correct page number. While doing this I found one of my pages was upside down and I had some duplicate pages. GEEZE!

Well, I read up on some more help and rotated the page and deleted the other pages. But wait! My page numbers are off now. I couldn’t change the footers on my finished PDF, NO WAY!. Anyway, I had to go back a few steps, and rotate the page again, delete the other pages again! I fixed the page sizes, embedded the fonts, added page numbers, uploaded the files both PDFs and WORD files, deleted my previous projects, started new projects and Finally I was done! I created these first four as black and white versions to keep the cost down, I did create four color versions and one complete version as a PDF download.
This took me about two-three days to get through all these steps. It was a little painful but a great learning opportunity. I always get a kick when people tell me they are amazed on how much I know and what I can get done. I try to tell them it wasn’t easy, that I had made a lot of mistakes along the way. That the project was a trial and error project, with lots of errors that tried my patients.  I don’t have these available for sale yet, because I need to get information from my society on their non-profit tax id number and then when sales are made, every three months, profits will be mailed via check to the society.

After I was done with the newsletter project, I decided to do one more project for myself. Back in 1992 and 1993, my aunt and I created a family history book “The Hafenstein Family” and after I printed a master copy of the book and before I printed the index, my computer died and I lost the book. I manually created the index by going page by page through the book. After we took the master to the printer and had copies made, I placed all the pages into sheet protectors. Then in 2008, I took those pages out and ran about 50 pages through the new copier/printer/scanner we had at work and scanned all those pages and sent them to myself. Well, I took those scanned pages, combined them back into one document, embedded the fonts and uploaded it to Lulu. I created a book. This was so much easier once I knew what I was looking for. This book is for sale on Lulu and I purchased the first copy so that I can donate it to my Society’s Library. I am very interested in seeing how it comes out.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

using my iPAD as a Scanner

Yesterday, my sister came over with 6 binders of photos and 1 binder of notes. All this was given to her by our Maternal Aunt. One of the binders of photos was mostly of wedding invitations. My aunt was smart enough to label the relationship (if any) to the family. I knew I wanted copies (images) of these wedding invitations. My dilemma was that I was at my second home with only my laptop and iPAD.   

I already had downloaded a free app for my iPAD that was a scanner app. In fact I had downloaded two apps. I used each app to snap images of a few of the invitations and then compared how the images looked and how I was going to get the images to my laptop. I wanted these images as jpg. I find I can do more with a jpg than I can do with a pdf. (This is just me, you may be more knowledgeable using pdfs.)
I ended up using TinyScan , (there are many out there, so try some to find the one you like the best) because it uses a Wi-Fi Drive where I launch my computer’s web browser, enter the address shown on the iPAD and download my image or PDF file through my browser. I did run into a few glitches, such as it would get an error after a while if my iPad went into sleep mode. So I made sure that didn’t happen. Also, if I get an error trying to find the page, I would close down the app and then reenter the app and my browser would find the page again. I also, had to make sure after taking a snapshot of the page, that I would go back “home” or I would end up creating a multi-page document. Which will come in handy for other purposes, but not for this purpose.

TinyScan did allow you to crop the image; I could save as color, grayscale or black and white. I found grayscale looked nice and stuck with that.  After I saved each image into a working folder on my laptop, making sure I gave it a useful name such as Surname, Groom and Brides name (First Middle Last). I went into properties, details, and in the comments field, I wrote the relationship that my aunt wrote for each invitation. I am now going through each page again, and bringing up that relative in my genealogy software program. I am making sure that I have the marriage date and place entered, I create a source citation and attach the image to the source. I then link the source to other facts, such as the Brides and Grooms names and the Brides parent’s names (since this is usually given). By going through the actual binder, I am double checking that I didn't miss any.
In this binder, I did find one obituary and numerous graduation notices. I took an image of the obituary and inputted the information found in the record. I plan on noting the graduation date for those in this binder and I have found some smaller schools included fellow graduates, and I have found information on relatives on my father’s side. Graduations dates do help to determine birth dates when you don’t have them, so don’t overlook these often overlooked sources.