Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun…What I’m Thankful For in Genealogy

I’m complying with Randy Seaver’s suggestion that we write tonight about what we’re thankful for in genealogy.

I’m thankful that

1. My husband Larry urged and urged me to do some research on my family’s history, back in 1992-3-4.

2. My son bought Family Tree Maker Software and gave it to my dad, who gave it to me in 1999.

3. My mother’s cousin Phyllis Preece so generously shared all she had on my maternal ancestors with me.

4. My dad’s distant cousin Clarence Margheim compiled an extensive book on my paternal Margheim family line.

5. I’ve been able to serve as a Family History Consultant in my church so I’ve learned more about technology and online resources and have come to love the study of my family history.

6. I’ve met wonderful cousins like Kate Keller, Jill Bowden, Gene Williams, Kevin King, and dozens of others who have graciously shared photos, stories, letters and more family history with me and my husband.

7. Megan Smolenyak, Anne Bradshaw and Hank Jones have written the books I so enjoy on the “serendipity” nature of genealogy. They keep me motivated and inspired!

8. My dad Ernie Margheim is still alive and enjoys telling me the stories that I need to know to more fully understand and appreciate my heritage.

9. My son Matt Klein is interested in his heritage and has given me the opportunity to research it and share my findings with him. 

10. My husband was approving of me buying a laptop computer so I can do genealogy research every evening while still keeping him company in our TV room!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Cousin, Robert Truax, Top Rocket Scientist

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A headline in the New York Times September 29, 2010 said “Robert Truax, a Top Rocket Scientist, Is Dead at 93.” That article caught my attention because I have a 4th great grandmother named Sarah Truax (1775-1850).

Truax, Robt. As I read the information about Robert, this is what I learned: “Mr. Truax was one of the premier rocket scientists of the 20th century. He was a career naval officer lent to the Air Force for top-secret projects, and later was a corporate aerospace executive and an entrepreneur. His early research for the Navy laid the foundation for the liquid-propelled rockets that are the centerpiece of American space efforts, and he was a leader in developing the Thor, Viking and Polaris missile programs.

When Wernher von Braun and other German rocket experts came to the United States, Mr. Truax led the team that debriefed them. As president of the American Rocket Society, he was an early, vigorous advocate of the American space program.

The Encyclopedia Astronautica called him “one of the great originals of American rocketry.” In an interview, Rick W. Sturdevant, an Air Force historian, called him “an artist when it came to rocketry.”

In 1953, he developed a concept for putting long-range missiles on submarines. Some say the Polaris missile emerged from this work.

Mr. Truax was more modest: “I just like to go out and play with rockets.” Truax, Robert

Robert Collins Truax’s 7th great grandparents, Philippe Antoine DuTrieux and Susanna du Chesne are my 9th great grandparents. So Robert is my 8th cousin, twice removed. It’s always nice to be able to learn more about a cousin by reading a published article in the New York Times.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Putting Together my Son’s Ancestry Reports

Genealogy Projects

I’ve recently posted stories on each of my blogs telling of the work I did to prepare a pedigree chart and ancestry report for my son. I adopted my son as an infant. Last year he met his birth mother and, upon his request, she gave him a 4 generation pedigree chart. A genealogist’s dream! He knew that I’ve wanted for many years to be able to research his natural heritage.

I’ve had requests by good genealogy friends for a post on how I went about preparing the reports for Matt. I’ll attempt to give a brief overview of my work.

After receiving that initial 4 generation pedigree, I spent the following 3 months researching those families on her chart. I’d be crippled as a researcher without my subscription to Ancestry.com. One of Matt’s ancestor’s families immigrated from Germany. I was able to find the ship manifest on Ancestry.com! A cousin of his birth mother has entered her family information into a public tree on Ancestry.com. I emailed her and got the sources for the information on the family she had in common with Matt. She has over 7,000 photos on her tree, over 200 of which are Matt’s ancestors! What a blessing for me and Matt. He now has pictures of his great and great, great grandparents in one line. We’ve been able to pick out physical similarities already!

I saved those photos to a CD which I included in the material I gave to Matt. I was fortunate to find many photos also at Find-A-Grave.

My genealogy software of choice is RootsMagic4. Every piece of information I found online (from a large variety of websites), in addition to that which I was given to start with, was entered into the database. After I’d researched for 5 months, I decided it was time to print up the reports and prepare a book for Matt and one for his birth mom. He’s been asking about my progress for all of 2010, so it was time to deliver.

I printed a 15 generation Ancestors report in RootsMagic. It was 87 pages long! I made a decision along the way to not include thumbnail photos in my RootsMagic database and I’ll explain why. I keep my photos in a file on my personal laptop, but it’s not connected to a printer. I use my office computer to print reports because it’s connected to a very nice Canon copier. The reports from RootsMagic have to be printed from the same computer where the photos are stored. For 20 years I’ve used Microsoft Publisher for all my document preparation because I can easily manipulate photos. Unlike WORD, in Publisher photos stay right where you want them! So I saved my RootsMagic reports as .rtf files and opened them in Publisher for final formatting. During that process, I inserted relevant photos and was able to place them exactly where they belonged.

I also printed Descendant reports for the families in each of his 4 major lines…as well as some extended lines. I printed family group sheets for the families in his direct line for 4 generations. I printed out information from web sites on other collateral families that were relevant…Elvis Presley, for example. Elvis is a distant cousin of Matt’s, I discovered.

I assembled all the reports and other documentation into a large 3 ring binder, with a table of contents in the front. I also printed a short 4 generation pedigree chart with color coding and put it in the front of the book so Matt could follow where all these ancestors belonged!

Now I have to confess that, although I’m a staunch supporter of RootsMagic, I’m not fond of the way the wall charts print. And with my limited budget, I’m not able to pay for a very nice professional chart that I could get from Janet Hovorka at Generation Maps.So I exported my database from RootsMagic into Family Tree Maker (I still have v. 16 on my computers) and printed the large pedigree chart from there.  It came out about 80 pages, so I trim the right side and bottom of each page about 1/8” and overlap the pages as I lay the pedigree chart together and tape them in place. Then my husband help0ed me by taking the taped-together  12 foot pedigree chart to a local commercial printer who feeds it through a blueprint printer. The final product is a seamless pedigree chart! In the photo at the top of this story, the pedigrees are rolled up in the white tubes shown.

The package I was able to present to my son included the pedigree chart, the 3 ring binder with all ancestor and descendant report and other miscellaneous information, and a CD with all the photos I was able to gather.  I like the 3 ring binder because it allows me to add pages and update reports as I gain new information.

We don’t have to be a rocket-scientist to prepare nice reports from our research, but we certainly do have to have a big chunk of time and a lot of patience and perseverance to put it all together in presentable form. But when it’s a labor of love, that’s a small price to pay for the appreciation shown when the final product is delivered, read and shared with family!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Delivery of My Son’s Genealogy Book

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Today as we joined my son’s family for dinner to celebrate my birthday, I was able to deliver the genealogy book and pedigree chart that I’ve prepared for Matt. In the photo above my granddaughter Alyssa looks on as my husband comments “If each of these people on this pedigree hadn’t come together, you wouldn’t be YOU.”

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Our granddaughters Taylor (top) and Alyssa (bottom) serve as anchors to hold down the unrolled 12 foot pedigree. Their request upon seeing their dad’s ancestor chart was “Can you make us one, Grandma?” Since their dad’s pedigree is 12 feet long, each of their’s will probably be in excess of 20 feet. I’ll let you know when I get them printed.

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My granddaughter Taylor is showing some early interest in family history (Hooray!) as she reads the reports I put in a book for Matt’s birth mother. 

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Alyssa is anticipating the day when she can leaf through her own genealogy book. This Grandma better get busy!

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I wish I had known when my daughter-in-law was going to snap this picture of me and Matt…I’d have smiled!

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Genealogy Books for my Son and his Birth Mother

Genealogy Projects

Today’s my birthday so I’m giving a present to my son. Makes perfect sense to me!

I’ve written in the past about the research I’ve been doing for my son as a result of him “finding” his birth mother last year. I adopted my son as a newborn and at the age of 32 he was able to make contact with the wonderful woman who gave birth to him and allowed him to become my son by placing him for adoption. Upon his personal meeting with her on the occasion of his 33rd birthday, he asked her to provide him with names of her ancestors. Being the son of a woman who’s passionate about family history, he knew I’ve waited many years to have the opportunity to find out who his ancestors are.

Within two weeks of that request, Matt had received a complete four generation pedigree chart from his birth mother. Can you imagine how happy I was the day he called me with that information? I spent 4 months researching as much of the family as I could and just this Fall have put my findings into 3 ring binders for each of them. As you can see in the above photo collage, I also prepared a CD for each book that contains all the photographs I was able to find. In the white tubes are the pedigree charts I printed, each twelve feet long, covering about 18 generations.

I don’t know who’s more excited about this project, me, Matt or his birth mother. I know she’s anxiously waiting to read what I’ve found on her ancestors. And I know Matt’s anxious to see the book, but I think he’s mostly just proud that I’ve done this for him and that he’s able to present it to the wonderful woman who held the key to his ancestry!