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# Thursday, June 16, 2011
A Marriage Certificate Finds its Family
Posted by Grace

Whenever I find loose family photos or paperwork at antique malls (which is very often, because I love antiquing), I always feel sad for the families separated from the ephemera. On a trip home recently, my dad showed me a marriage certificate he'd found in an estate sale cleanout. (Guess where I get the antiques habit from?)

This beautiful certificate was for Walter C. Peck of Cleveland, Ohio, and Irene E. Kershner of Berwick, Pa., who were married on July 5, 1924, in Berwick, Pa., by the Rev. H.R. Shipe. I just had to know if this marriage certificate had a family that would want it.

So I did a little genealogical detective work on Ancestry.com.


(Click the image to enlarge it)

I found a Walter (age 31) and Irene Peck (29) living at 1273 Bonnieview, Lakewood, Ohio, in the 1930 census (recorded on April 5, 1930). They had two children, Clarke (5) and Carlos (8 months), and Walter was a ticket agent for a steam railroad. They rented their home for $50 a month and owned a radio set.

But Irene also showed up listed with her parents, William and Sarah Kershner, at 373 Monroe, Berwick Township, Pa., on the 1930 census (recorded April 8, 1930). Her two sons, Clark (listed as 4 and 11 months) and Carlos (7 months), are also included. (I'm figuring they were visiting during enumeration time.) I found the Kershners at the same address in the 1910 census, with Irene, 10 at the time, being among seven listed children.

Irene pops up in the 1920 census as a sister-in-law to Jacob and Lucretia Nagel in Lakewood, Ohio. She worked as a stenographer at a chemical company.

A WWI draft registration card filled out June 5, 1918, for a Walter Clark Peck living at 1339 E. 80th St. in Cleveland states he worked at a chemical company in Cleveland -- perhaps Walter and Irene had a workplace romance. Walter's emergency contact was his mother, Elizabeth Peck, who lived at the same address. Walter shows up on the 1910 and 1920 censuses living with his parents, Clark W. and Bessie Peck, in Cleveland.

Ohio death records show Walter C. Peck, born in 1897, died at home in Fairview Park, Ohio, on Nov. 13, 1961. I couldn't find a death date for Irene; Carlos Peck passed away in 2002.

But Clark Peck is still alive, and I called him on the phone today. He's a bit hard of hearing, so I mostly spoke to his wife, Beryl (Heiser) Peck, who confirmed pretty much everything I'd found.

Beryl said Walter Peck and Irene Kershner had met at Grasselli Chemical in Cleveland, where they'd both worked. Walter later worked for the Canadian Pacific Rail for many years; Beryl said Walter traveled around the world a couple times before he passed away in his 60s. Irene lived until the last 1980s. Now in his late 80s, Dr. Clark Peck practiced dentistry and taught at Case Western Reserve University for 30 years. He and Beryl now live in Westlake, Ohio, and have two children and many grandchildren.

By the time I got off the phone, I was tearing up from happiness. Beryl thanked me multiple times for contacting them -- I'll be mailing out the marriage certificate (and a copy of this blog post) to her and Clark today. I'm so glad that this beautiful record will return to its family -- and stay with them for many years to come.


Related resources:
Ancestry.com | saving and sharing family history | Vital Records
Thursday, June 16, 2011 2:49:24 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [11]
Build Your Genealogy Skills From Home at Our Virtual Conference
Posted by Diane

We’ve been keeping something up our sleeves for the end of the summer, but it’s time to let the cat out, at least a little bit.

We're planning our Family Tree University Summer 2011 Virtual Conference to give you an intensive dose of genealogy education without leaving home (or the library, or your sister’s house, or the table at the coffee shop where you’ve parked your laptop). 

The Virtual Conference is an online workshop from Friday, Aug. 19, to Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011. Attendees get an all-access pass to view 15 pre-recorded video classes and participate in live chats. You can join in every day or as your weekend schedule allows.

Classes are organized into three tracks:

  • genealogy technology
  • research strategies
  • ethnic research

A detailed list of classes and instructors is coming soon.

You’ll be able to download classes to watch again later or access ones you’ve missed, and you'll get a swag bag of ShopFamilyTree.com goodies.

Stop by Family Tree University for more Virtual Conference details and our early bird discount code on tuition (good until July 15)


Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Webinars
Thursday, June 16, 2011 11:08:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [7]
# Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Free Webinar on Writing Your Memoir
Posted by Diane

If your family history research has led you down the path of writing—and maybe even selling—your life story, think about registering for this free, hour-long webinar hosted by our friends at Writer’s Digest magazine.

How to Write a Marketable Memoir, taking place Monday, June 20, at 1 pm Eastern (that’s noon Central, 11 am Mountain and 10 am Pacific), will give you tips on how to self-edit, “hook” readers, find your voice, and research the potential market for your work.

The webinar is presented by literary agent Paula Balzer, author of the book Writing and Selling Your Memoir.

Click here to register for the free How to Write a Marketable Memoir webinar.


saving and sharing family history | Webinars
Wednesday, June 15, 2011 11:20:03 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, June 13, 2011
Father's Day Gifts for Family History-Minded Dads
Posted by Diane


Apparently, dads get the short end of the parental appreciation stick. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend an average of $106.49 on their dads this year. Mother’s Day spending averaged $140.73 (but this gap has narrowed in recent years).

So in the interest of fairness this Father’s Day, Sunday, June 19, I browsed around for some ideas for a dad who likes family history. (I’m dying to include what my little Leo is giving his daddy, but I’m afraid of spoiling his surprise, so I’ll show and tell after Sunday.)

  • A framed picture of dad with his kids or grandkids, or dad as a youngster with his dad, is a classic. Or I’ve heard about moms taking pictures of the wee ones wearing dad’s or grandpa’s shoes, tie and hat, and adding a frame. 
  • If you’ve been doing genealogy research, put together some of the items you’ve found into an album (here are some ideas), or burn a CD.

Editor's Pick | Genealogy books | Genealogy fun
Monday, June 13, 2011 5:03:57 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
Visit National Parks Free June 21
Posted by Diane

The US National Park Service will waive all entrance fees on Tuesday, June 21, the first day of summer. 

Among the beautiful and historic sites you could visit are Civil War-related places such as Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home, the Gettysburg battlefield and Appomattox Court House. 

You could convince Dad to take the day off work and celebrate a late, budget-friendly Father’s Day (Father's Day is next Sunday, June 19).

Use the Find a Park feature to find parks by name, location, activity or topic. If you scroll down and click a state on the US map, you'll open a page that shows you all the National Parks in that state.


Celebrating your heritage | Civil War | Museums | Social History
Monday, June 13, 2011 3:06:26 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, June 10, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, June 6-10
Posted by Diane

  • Manassas, Va., is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas (also called Bull Run) with an event July 21-24 featuring battle re-enactments, living history demonstrations and more, including an appearance by Patrick Gorman (Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood in the 2003 film Gods and Generals). Learn more and purchase tickets at ManassasCivilWar.org

Ancestry.com | Genealogy Events | Historic preservation | Libraries and Archives | Museums | NARA
Friday, June 10, 2011 10:02:14 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, June 09, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: US Sanitary Commission
Posted by Diane

June 9, 1861, the US War Department sanctioned a "Commission of Inquiry and Advice in Respect of the Sanitary Interests of the United States Forces." Abraham Lincoln signed the US Sanitary Commission into law a few days later.

The new agency coordinated the volunteer efforts of women who wanted to contribute to the Union’s war effort. Members worked as nurses, ran Army camp kitchens, operated soldiers' homes and lodges, made uniforms, organized fundraising “sanitary fairs” (including art exhibitions or teas) and more.

The group had more than 4,000 local branches, according to Life in Civil War America.

The Sanitary Commission was disbanded in May 1866, and is often considered the forerunner to the American Red Cross.

Looking for records? The Historical Society of Pennsylvania holds a collection of records from the Sanitary Commission Philadelphia Branch, a major hub of commission activity, mostly correspondence, receipts and financial papers.


Civil War
Thursday, June 09, 2011 4:19:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
Break Through Stubborn Brick Walls
Posted by Diane


You can't find record of your immigrant ancestor's arrival. Great-grandpa has gone missing from the 1910 census—and his mother apparently had no maiden name. 

These are classic genealogy stumbling blocks—but you probably feel like you’ve run up against a brick wall anytime you’ve looked and looked and you just can’t find an ancestor.

Our newest CD, Research Remedies: Best Strategies to Beat Brick Walls and Track Elusive Ancestors, is just for you.

This CD has Family Tree Magazine’s best brick wall-busting help, including:

  • proven research techniques such as cluster genealogy and reverse genealogy

  • solutions to common problems such as elusive ancestors, burned courthouses, hard-to-use pre-1850 US censuses (which name only heads of households), early immigrants, and more

  • tips for finding and using often-overlooked and underused resources, such as coroners' reports, outbound passenger lists, nonpopulation censuses, marriage bonds and others, that may hold the answers you need

  • worksheets to help you organize your research strategy and track conflicting information

One of my favorite things about this CD is that you can watch the tips in action: It also contains our hour-long Brick Wall Strategies webinar.

Click here to learn more about the Research Remedies CD at ShopFamilyTree.com.


Editor's Pick | Research Tips
Thursday, June 09, 2011 9:11:34 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Enter to Win a Trip to Meet Long-Lost Family!
Posted by Diane

We’re getting together with family history site MyHeritage.com to host an online contest that’ll help you reconnect family ties lost through fate and time.

The contest is open to interested individuals who’ve discovered new living family connections or long-lost relatives through their family history research. 

The winner will get an expenses-paid reunion with a long-lost relative from anywhere in the world, plus a year-long VIP membership to Family Tree Magazine and a three-year Premium-Plus subscription with MyHeritage.com. How’s that for a great prize? 

Two runners-up will win, as well: A digital subscription to Family Tree Magazine and a three-year Premium-plus subscription on MyHeritage.com.

To enter, submit a few sentences describing your discovery and what it means to you by commenting on the MyHeritage.com Blog,  the MyHeritage.com Facebook page  or the Family Tree Magazine Facebook page. The entry deadline is June 15.

Click here for the full contest rules and guidelines.

I can’t wait to see how researching your genealogy has helped you connect with distant family. Good luck!


Family Reunions | Genealogy fun
Wednesday, June 08, 2011 9:40:35 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Anouncing our 101 Best Websites for Genealogy: Version 2011
Posted by Diane

We’re super-excited to announce the 101 Best Genealogy Web Sites for 2011—this year’s installment of our annual compilation of our favorite free sites for researching family history.


Many genealogy sites (and other sites that aren’t for doing genealogy per se, but are nonetheless handy for family history) have embraced Web 2.0; this year’s 101 Best Websites roundup tilts a bit in their direction. Unlike last year, when we singled out free websites, the 2011 list includes both free and subscription sites.

The 2011 list appears in the September 2011 Family Tree Magazine (which starts mailing to subscribers any day now, and will be available for purchase June 28), and we’ve also posted them free on FamilyTreeMagazine.com so you can click right through to these great tools for family tree research. 

The sites are divided into 11 categories (for “mega-mart” sites, USA-focused sites, tech tools, sites for researching immigrants, etc.). Just click a category name to see the sites in that category.

You’ll soon begin to see the selected sites wearing “101 Best Websites” badges. Congratulations to all of them, and a big thank-you for making it easier to discover our family histories.

For more help researching your family tree on the web, see the Online Genealogy store at ShopFamilyTree.com.


Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, June 07, 2011 4:41:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]