One Piece of Evidence

There is a picture of my Dad in his early 70s with a hog in the back of his livestock trailer. My Dad farmed his entire life so pictures with livestock are not uncommon.

One might be tempted to think, based upon the picture, that my Dad raised hogs on his farm at that point in his life. The picture would seem to potentially suggest that. That was not the case.

My Dad had not raised hogs in over twenty-five years when the photo was taken of him with a hog in his livestock trailer. He had won the hog by guessing its weight in a contest sponsored by a local business and was picking the pig up after the contest was over.

When analyzing a piece of information, genealogical or otherwise, think about what it means and what it does not mean. Another clue is that I only have one picture of my Dad with a hog. I have many pictures clearly taken over decades of cattle. That’s more suggestive than one picture of a hog.

Switched at Census Time?

Did the census taker reverse the first and last names? It can happen with anyone, but the possibility increases if the individual’s name is in a foreign language and they are a recently arrived immigrant. This man’s name was Focke Meyer, but he was listed as last name Focke and first name Myer.

Waiting on the Name

From a few years back…

Children were not always named immediately. While modern practice is to name children at birth (if not before), this was not always the case for one reason or another. It is not uncommon to see “unnamed” or “baby” as the first name on a birth certificate. A couple may have waited until they could arrange for a christening to name the baby, because they could not decide, or other reasons.

This post on our sister site looks at possible unnamed children in the 1880 United States census.

Lubbe, Habbe, and Pabe

Because of naming patterns and patronymics, four generations of one of my family contains numerous male family members whose first names are either Lubbe, Habbe, or Pabe and whose last names are either Lubben, Habben, or Paben. It can be extremely confusing and they are easy to either mix up or merge into one wrong compilation.

Church records for the area of Germany where this family is from are fairly extant. For this reason, I have avoided using online trees and compilations unless I have personal knowledge of the researcher’s ability to be thorough and meticulous. Even then anyone can make a mistake. Using the church records myself is an excellent way to go although it is tedious and time consuming.

I’ve made a chart listing the family members showing their relationship to the others. This chart includes parent child relationships (using lines); years of birth, death, and marriage; and abbreviations for locations of those events. An alphabetical list of members of the family is also helpful as is an alphabetical list of spouses.

How Many?

How many pictures do you need to pass to the next generation? Will your children, grandchildren, and so on really want two hundred vacation pictures of beaches and other scenery that contain no image of a human? Will they really need fifty snapshots taken of a birthday party for a one-year old opening every gift?

Saving that one picture you have of your great-grandmother is one thing. Saving the three hundred negatives of pictures taken at a family barbeque may be something else. Saving the digital scans of those family barbeque pictures may be more manageable.

When you have a handful of images for a person, the decision to save is not difficult. When you have one photo of a great-great-grandparent, there is no decision: save. But when you have hundreds of images of one person (some of which may be very similar), how many slides, negatives, and photos can you save? How many can you realistically expect your children or grandchildren to continue saving after you are gone?

Just something to think about.

Yes, I am scanning my parents’ and grandparents’ negatives, slides, and pictures using a scanner I purchased. But there are more originals than I can potentially expect my children to keep in boxes and pass on to their children to keep in more boxes. What to save is something I have to keep in mind.

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The Error on the Envelope

The envelope from the drug store where my Mom had her photographs developed listed her with her maiden name. This was twenty-seven years after she was married and her last name was no longer Neill. The drug store clerk apparently realized the error and corrected the name, but did not change the initial under which the order was filed.

I already know that Mom’s maiden name is Ufkes from other records and the lifelong interaction I had with members of her family of origin. This drug store photograph receipt really does not prove anything and I certainly have a large quantity of items providing her maiden name that are of much higher evidentiary quality. The item does not purport to give her maiden name. It was intended to be the name at the time–1995. What I know, based on this document alone, is that the clerk realized an error had been made. For all I know, one of Mom’s many Ufkes relatives still bearing the name was in the store at the same time as she was and the clerk simply got mixed up. To be honest, given the probable age of the clerk, she could easily have listed my Mom’s maiden name as Grandma’s last name had she been friends with my Grandmother.

In other situations, this could have been a clue.

If you have a grandmother who was married seven times and you don’t have last name for all of those husbands, a record of this type would be very helpful and the researcher who has access to that grandmother’s personal papers should dig through every one for a potential reference to a different last name. That’s not the case here.

Time to Write up Those Item Stories

Ran across a picture of this clock while scanning my negatives. Reminded me of the importance of photographing your own family items and writing up their history. You cannot give one item to everyone, but you can share the stories and pictures of these items with everyone.

Family tradition has it that this clock was owned by my second great-grandparents. My Mom was fairly certain she remembered my great-grandma Tjode (Goldenstein) Habben having this clock in their house for some time before Tjode passed away in 1954.

What I know (because it took place in my lifetime) is that my great-grandma’s sister Altje had the clock and gave it to my grandmother before Altje died. Before my grandmother moved to Florida after my grandfather’s death, she gave the clock to me. For sentimental reasons, my Mom had it in her home for a while before her death.

When writing up these stories, try and distinguish what you know from personal experience versus what you know because you were told it by someone else. Avoid using pronouns when writing up such stories. There are several females in this story and “she” could easily refer to any of them. Better to be a little stilted in the writing than being unclear.

Take the time to write even if you are not writing about a clock.

Those Ordered Negatives

I’ve been using my new slide and negative scanner to scan my parents’ photographic negatives. None of them have any identification on them. although some of them are still in the envelopes which contained the photographic prints and returned negatives. Most of those envelopes at least have a year on them which has been helpful in dating them. Fortunately most of the negatives are from pictures taken during my life time.

The problem is that in some cases, an individual strip of negatives has ended up in an envelope of pictures taken at another point in time. Sometimes I notice this and other times I do not–depends on the pictures.

I located a negative strip that had pictures of my mother’s grade school class. It was in an envelope that contained pictures of my children that would have been taken in the mid-1990s. I assumed the classroom picture was taken at the same time. It was not. It was taken ten years earlier.

Just remember that even when something seems fairly organized it may not be as organized as you think.