30 November 2010

Thanksgiving from Several Thousand Feet Up 26 Nov 2010

We had an early Thanksgiving this year with my side of the family. All of Bubba’s descendants were scheduled to be present. Of course, I was hoping to get a picture of the whole crew. This is the photo we took.
I am thankful for it; however a few family members are missing.

One of my daughters was busy doing this:

This picture is from an earlier show in October. MJ was so busy watching her do her thing that he didn't get any good pictures from this one. My daughter was very happy, but MJ would have been much happier eating turkey and stuffing. I did bring them home big plates of food, which they gobbled up.

My sister’s son and my cousins' husband were also missing as they had to work.

As he always does, my father led a beautiful grace and conjured the memories of our beloved family members who are no longer with us. I am so grateful to my father for his ability to invite them to our celebrations with such dignity and also that his prayers make everyone there feel included, no matter what their religion. 

MJ and my kids enjoyed Thanksgiving today with his side of the family. (I hope they took pictures!) I however am several thousand feet above the ocean on my way to Germany to visit the past and grateful to my husband for supporting me in my quest.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you enjoyed the day and have lots for which to be thankful.

Scrappy Gen

Military Monday–Searching for Bubba’s PT Boat Part 2

My sister and I found two photos in the stash at my parent’s home on our visit home for an early Thanksgiving with Bubba’s descendants on Sunday. We dove into the stacks looking for photos from Bubba’s time on the PT boat. One of the photos shows PT 163 and must have been ordered from PT Boats,Inc..

PT 368002
If Bubba was in indeed a member of PT RON 23, then this is not a photo of his boat. PT RON 23 encompassed PTs 241-244 and 277-288.

This is the other photo we found. It is hard to make out, but shows PT 328. See my photo edit here.
PT 368
Bubba may or may not have taken this photo, but I am betting on the fact that he did because he brought his camera everywhere and taught my sister and me to do the same. The photo I have is an old blow up. Someday I hope to go through the literally thousands of slides we have to see if he kept the original. Meanwhile, my Aunt will be looking through the photo stash at her house for photos taken on his boat with his crew mates. My secret wish is that the boat number will be visible in one of the pictures she finds.

Happy Hunting!

Scrappy Gen

29 November 2010

Photo Edits–Rescuing an Old Faded Photo–PT Boat 328

This photo is blown up from another (location unknown) damaged photo. The damage that is visible is part of the image. We actually found two copies kept in archival sleeves, so it is most likely that it was an important picture to Bubba. You can read more about it here.

PT 368
For this photo, I am not interested in a full restoration. The quality isn’t such that I would ever hang it on my wall, but I would like to be able to more clearly read the number on the side of the boat and perhaps during the process other photo clues might become apparent.

As always I begin the process with my trusty Epson 4490 scanner, scanning the photo at 600 dpi and saving in both TIFF and JPG formats. This is a bit of overkill I know, but most websites will not accept the TIFF format and I like to have JPG version handy if I know I will be putting it online. I open the TIFF version in Lightroom to make my photo adjustments. Have I said before that one of the reasons I love Lightroom is that it leaves the original image untouched? Your edits are made and saved in the Lightroom Catalog. You can save new versions to your photo folders by clicking Export, but your original is always available.

Here are the photo adjustments I made.

1. Adjusted Blacks +63
PT Boat Blacks (1 of 1)

2. Adjusted Clarity +100
PT Boat Clarity (1 of 1)

3. Lowered the Contrast –45
PT Boat Contrast Down (1 of 1)

4. Lowered the brightness –61
PT Boat Brightness 1 (1 of 1)

5. There is more substance to the photo, but some of the detail has been lost, so raised Contrast +120
PT Boat Contrast 2 (1 of 1)

6. Can’t leave that brightness alone because I think I see some clouds in the sky. Brightness –32
PT Boat Brightness 2 (1 of 1)

7. It isn’t a color photo, so that isn’t really blue sky peaking through, but I do think clouds are visible.
    A little too dark still. Exposure + 48.
PT Boat Exposure (1 of 1)

Here are the things I have noticed while working with this photo. There are clouds in the sky and land is visible in the background. The two men sitting at the front are not on high alert. Their shoulders and backs are slumped as if they are relaxing (or exhausted) and enjoying a nice boat ride. The boat is flying the American flag. The number 328 is certainly clearly visible on the side, but I didn't notice with the original version that it is also visible on the top of the boat right in front of the radar pole. There may be two or three more men sitting at the top.

Here again is the original scan of the faded photo.
PT 368

I love a good black and white photo as you know from here and here.

You can’t see the clouds as well, but if you were putting together a project with a cohesive look, it might be worth the extra step to convert the photo to black and white. I think it is a little less distracting to the subject.

Happy Photo Editing!

Scrappy Gen

27 November 2010

Butzbach Germany – Traveling Back in Time

We've been traveling for a couple of days. Today was the day we traveled back in time to Butzbach, near Frankfurt, Germany. I don’t have full internet ability, but this picture and the happiness of the moment couldn't wait:IMG_2066

This was a moment that I never imagined would be, but it was. I’ll tell you about it as soon as I get back.

Scrappy Gen

23 November 2010

Traveling Back in Time – Butzbach, Germany

Have you ever wished you could travel back in time to see that favorite someone? You know the person, the one who stayed for a little while, but left their footprints in your heart. Perhaps if you have never moved, you can’t understand this desire, but when you move a lot, there end up being several ‘someones’, who you would love to go back in time and visit.

This is a picture of me and my first two favorite people:

Jennifer Lina and Tina (1 of 1)

The woman’s name is Lina, but I called her Mutti (German for Mom). The girl leaning on her knee is her daughter. When we lived in Butzbach, near Frankfurt, Germany, my Mother had many duties to attend to as the wife of a young US Army officer. Lina took care of me for the first three years of my life before we moved back to the United States. According to my mother, I continued to ask for Lina for a long time after we had left.

As I mentioned here, my parents, sister and I will soon be traveling back to Butzbach and Frankfurt, Germany. We will visit the places we lived and will see the 97th Army Hospital, where I was born. You can read about the hospital on The USAREUR Military History Office website. My sister never made it to the hospital, she was in too much of a hurry to see the world.

While my parents were at our house recently, we decided to try to figure out if it was possible that Lina might still be living in the area. Luckily they remembered her old address in Butzbach. They had corresponded and exchanged photos until the late seventies.
How do you find someone living in Germany? First, I used Google Translate to get the German words for phonebook and directory. Then on Google, we searched for Butzbach Telefonbuch. We found the website and searched for Lina and her husband Walter. Up popped Walter at the same address where my parents had last written to Lina thirty years ago.

I am excited, but nervous to have found Walter. Many questions remain to be answered on our trip. What to do? I could write a letter asking about Lina or announcing our visit, but I am not sure if a letter would arrive in time. We will be right near her home. Should we just knock on the door? Should we call first? I had German in school, but speaking it on the phone for the first time, would feel like running a race without warming up. It’s been so long…, but I can still feel her footprints in my heart.

Thanks for reading!

Scrappy Gen

19 November 2010

Scrappy Genealogist Learns to Blog - Footnote Friday and Privacy Concerns

A cousin of mine contacted me to find out why I had left the Grace surname off of my surname list. She pointed out that not only had I neglected to include it, but I also had not identified my great grandmother as a Grace. She asked if I was no longer claiming my Grace ancestry.

For the record, I am proud to be a descendant of the Grace family from Freshford Village in Kilkenny, Ireland by way of Quebec and Vermont. This happy couple is Edward and Catherine (Travers) Grace. They are great great great grandparents to me and great great grandparents to two cousins I have connected with through Ancestry.com.
Grace Grace and Catherine 005

This family treasure proved its value in confirming our relationship. They had the same picture! We were officially Grace cousins.

My cousin knew I was happy about our connection, so she had a valid reason to ask why I had not mentioned our ancestral surname. As you know, I am a newbie genealogy blogger. Part of learning to blog about my genealogical finds is deciding how much I feel is safe and comfortable to share.

For more recent generations whose publicized information might invade the privacy of living relatives, I have elected not to include any surnames. It’s a difficult balance to achieve. It’s a problem I ran into while creating my first Footnote Friday post. Within the source citations, I replaced names with [name for private use] and birth/death dates with (birth year-death year), instead of using the actual information.

Am I being paranoid? Probably not because identity theft is a clear and present danger. That said I would really like to find my groove and decide what my parameters are going to be. I would love to know how others have dealt with privacy concerns. If you are a blogger, how do you decide where to draw the line? Is your line permanent, or flexible? In the case of reports with citations, is it all or nothing? How do you handle this?

Thank you!

Scrappy Gen

16 November 2010

Photo Clues for Genealogical Success – Bubbie’s Parents and Siblings

MJ’s cousin Cathy brought some treasures to show us during our dinner at Sammy’s. This jewel was particularly touching:
According to Cathy, this is a picture of Bubbie’s parents, sisters and brother. Someone identified the oldest girl as Ida and the youngest girl as Esther. The boy she believes is Bubbie’s brother, Joseph. She cannot identify the middle daughter. Bubbie left Latvia for Michigan in 1909. Her sister, Ida, left in 1908 for New York, where another sister Lena had settled in 1906. If the oldest girl is Ida, then this picture was most likely taken in Russia after Lena had gone, perhaps to send to her in America. This means that one of the two younger daughters is probably Bubbie, but that is a photo clue adventure for another day.

Seeing this photograph was an emotional experience for MJ and me. Growing up MJ knew that his Bubbie’s family had perished in the Holocaust, but to gaze into the eyes of these souls and to picture their tragic fate was deeply moving. At the time of World War II, Esther was married and had a family in the Riga area. Joseph may have as well. Cathy knows this because of the treasure trove of memorabilia that her family has collected since the early twentieth century. She has letters from Esther and other family members in Latvia, letters that suddenly stopped in 1941.

We feel so grateful that we met Cathy and that she is so generously sharing a big piece of Bubbie’s ancestry with us through, as she puts it, her family’s pack-rat habits. Personally, I love pack-rats. Thank you Cathy!


Scrappy Gen

15 November 2010

Military Monday–Searching for Bubba’s PT Boat

Here is the patch I told you about yesterday.
Smith Edward PT Boat Patch001-Edit copy
It represents Patrol Torpedo (PT) Boat Squadron 23. My grandfather continued to feel a strong connection throughout his life to his time with the men who served in this squadron. Each new grandchild upon entering the family received a t-shirt or a sweatshirt with the words PT Boater emblazoned across it, Bubba’s message to each that this was significant to him.

As the oldest grandchildren in the family, my sister and I were privileged (although at 15 and 13 we felt more burdened than honored) to travel with our grandfather to the National PT Boat Museum at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts. He wanted to share this significant part of his life with us. As the family photographer, he made sure to document the trip as well. That’s my sister and me posing under the big guns.
1980 Battleship Cove (1 of 1)
One of the many things I loved about my grandfather is that he always asked us to take pictures of him. Did he know how much we would someday appreciate his forethought in handing his camera over to us?
1980 Battleship Cove (2 of 1)
Of course, I was thrilled when my son as a Cub Scout went and slept on one of the ships at Battleship Cove. My husband, MJ, pointed out the displays for PT Boat Squadron 23 and our son dutifully acknowledged them. Some day he will appreciate it, just like I do now.
2010 Battleship Cove (1 of 1)
We don’t know on which boat in Squadron 23 Bubba served. My mother as his next of kin can order his Military Service record through the National Archives. That is our next step in the hunt for his p.t. boat.

Happy Monday!

Scrappy Gen

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14 November 2010

Genealogical Serendipity or Supernatural Occurrence

Bubba was Irish and that may explain it. We grew up hearing anecdotes about souls, who had passed, communicating with those still living in the physical world. There was never a question of whether or not a connection to the spiritual world existed, it just did. It was certainly a comfort to grow up believing our ancestors were watching over us.

This history is why I was not all that surprised by what happened yesterday. Several weeks ago, I had decided to learn more about Bubba’s service on a PT Boat during World War II. I mentioned here having a patch with a rabbit that Bubba had given me. The patch represented his PT Boat Squadron. Wanting to share it with you, I searched through all of my treasure boxes and memorabilia files but could not find it anywhere.

I called my sister, who also had one of the patches, and she agreed to send it to me for scanning as long as I immediately returned it, which I did. Fast forward to yesterday and suddenly, sitting on my back hall counter was the patch. Had it fallen out of the bag for my sister? A call to my sister revealed that she was in possession of her patch. I knew I had put my patch away with my family treasures for safe keeping. How had it appeared on my counter? Did Bubba put it there?

A skeptic could easily explain away my discovery, but a skeptic I am not. I am partly Irish after all. 

Bubba, thank you for letting us know you are around. We love you and miss you, especially today, your birthday. Happy Birthday!

Scrappy Genny
(Bubba always called me Jenny.)

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13 November 2010

Scrappy Genealogist Learns to Blog – What is Technorati?

Time to celebrate! Technorati approved my claim, which means my blog exists (thank goodness) in their universe. Still I wonder what it means for The Scrappy Genealogist blog.

A search for the question “What is Technorati?” brought me to a blog post by The Design Intelligencer. It explains that Technorati is a directory for blogs and gives practical information about how to use it. 

Technorati is a social media website through which blogs can be searched and receive ratings. This time when I searched their site for genealogy related blogs, 627 blogs popped up. Each blog is given an authority on a scale of 1 to 1000. The highest rated genealogy blog had an authority of 493 (out of 1000), while the lowest had an authority of 1. I couldn't help myself (could you?), so I searched for The Scrappy Genealogist. Actually first I searched in the blogs with an authority of 1, but it wasn't there. Okay, I thought, it makes sense if it doesn’t have any authority at all yet, but surprisingly it was there with an authority of 126. What?

I just started blogging. How could I have a relatively high authority among the genealogy blogs listed? To try to find the answer I did a little digging. None of those I consider to be the big genealogy related bloggers are listed. Uh, oh...do they know something that I don’t? In fact, I only recognized a couple of the blog titles. Although the big names are absent from Technorati, there are lots of wonderful blogs registered, which would be fun to browse.

What I think is that Technorati can be a useful forum for getting your blog read, something that the big names don’t need. A search on Google for the term genealogy nets 31,500,000 results. There is no way my blog would be found in that ocean. To me Technorati is a smaller pond with a lot fewer fish, where if you work hard on posts relevant to your subject, your blog can get noticed and read. Getting noticed and read can only be a good thing.

Next up is Technorati Tags, the whole reason I signed up for this Technorati adventure in the first place. I’ll let you know what I find out.

Scrappy Gen

12 November 2010

Footnote Friday - Let's Talk

Let's talk. I have a confession. Last week I was so excited to get started on the theme of Footnote Friday, that I neglected to do my homework. Today I found an informative post from f o o t n o t e M a v e n about source citations. If you are unfamiliar with formal genealogical work or you would like to better understand the need for source citations (in the form of footnotes or end notes), then this post should be a must read.

A few more clicks on the f o o t n o t e M a v e n blog and I found a reference to Footnote Friday in an article from 2009 on setting up a blogging schedule. I couldn't find a way to email to let f.M. know that I am sorry for my blunder. I still love the idea of Footnote Friday, but the idea is not after all original to me. What I have learned is, before you announce a new theme, make sure no one else has already done it. Please forgive me dear f.M. 

On a brighter note, I just greedily received the second edition of Evidence Explained from my favorite delivery guy. A quick perusal finds an entry in the index for Google Books, but not for Google Earth as I was hoping. I have mentioned before that I love Google Earth with all of its creative possibilities, but I have to figure out how to correctly source an image or video made with its software. 

Would anyone like my old copy of Evidence Explained, published in 2007? It's been highlighted and bookmarked, but it is yours for the price of postage. Just let me know in a comment.

More later. 

Scrappy Gen

11 November 2010

Gift Idea for a Genealogist - 97 Orchard Street by Jane Zigelman

97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement 

While visiting the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, this book jumped off the gift shop table and into my arms. You can read about it on the museum website. The sub title of 97 Orchard Street is yummy: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families In One New York Tenement.
Coincidentally, our community newsletter announced that Jane Zigelman, the author, will be visiting Temple Israel in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Sunday, November 21st at 12 Noon. Come and meet the author and a visit a synagogue established over 100 years ago. How much better can it get? Books, immigrants, food and history all rolled together. I love it.

The visit is co-sponsored by our locally owned and operated River Run Bookstore, through which you can pre-order a signed copy. More details can be found in the flier below or through the River Run Bookstore website. image


Scrappy Gen

10 November 2010

Photo Edits – Repairing a Damaged Photo - Great Grandma Catherine’s Baby Picture

There is a recurring theme in my life…so many (blank), so little time. I have a pile of books in my house to be read, thus so many books, so little time. There are so many photos waiting to be included on scrapbook pages. There are so many ancestors waiting to be found. And there are so many photos waiting to be fixed and shared. Yesterday’s post about visiting my great grandmother Catherine’s birthplace began with this lovely although extremely damaged photograph of her at toddler age:

Grace Catherine Infant001
Three corners are missing. There are tears, creases, spots and stains. Is this photo a keeper? Absolutely, it’s my great grandmother! It does belong in an archival sleeve for storage to minimize any further damage, but a scan at 300 dpi will give us an image we can manipulate and also will serve as a visual index of the original copy. 

When scanning your old photos, it is good to make use of the properties setting for the new image. Good photo indexing starts with giving all newly scanned photos descriptive names including a date (can be an estimate), last name, first name and sometimes birth year of the subject. Then, after saving the image with that descriptive file name, right click on it and choose properties. Click on the details tab (in Windows 7). Under this tab additional information regarding the photo can be added including title, subject, tags, comments and date acquired.

It's time to get back to the task at hand. First I opened the photo in Photoshop Elements 8 and cut out the areas of the scan that were not part of the picture:
Grace Cath 1 Edit Cut out Damaged Areas

The largest missing area on the lower left required some creativity in order to rebuild the missing parts of the wooden chair. I used the selection tool to copy a piece of the chair and paste it over the missing corner to continue the line toward the bottom of the photo. It looks a little funky to start, but it will get better.
Grace Cath 2 Begin to Rebuild Chair

Here I continued the process of selecting, copying and pasting pieces of the chair.
Grace Cath 3 chair rebuild almost done

Here I have finished rebuilding the chair with both the the selection tool and the clone tool. Both tools are almost as easy to use as the cut and paste tool in a word document. My result is far from perfect on close inspection, but it is a big improvement.
Grace Cath 4 chair rebuilt, background on bottom filled in, then lots of smudging

The clone stamp tool easily repaired the upper left hand corner and the tears at the top middle and upper right corner.  
Grace Cath 5 background repaired - looking good glad the face isn't damaged

Catherine’s face, hair and dress somehow remained undamaged. I did erase a couple of spots on her face and a stain or two from her dress using the clone tool in lighten mode.
Grace Cath 6 fixed pookie on her face and a couple of stains on her dress

I lightened the staining and spots on the rest of the background, again with (you guessed it!) the clone stamp tool. This photo is a little larger so that you can more easily see the details.
Grace Cath 7 lightened upper corners, removed background pookies

Because I couldn’t leave well enough alone I used the smudge tool on the background to clean it up more. Not sure which is better and I haven’t actually used the smudge tool for this purpose before. With more practice I think the effect could be subtler. Here is the finished photo with the damaged photo for comparison.
Grace Cath 9 final  Grace Catherine Infant001
And because I really can’t leave well enough alone and because I don’t like how the color is looking in my finished photo, here are two more options that I like:
Grace Cath option (1 of 1)  Grace Cath option 1

The possibilities are endless and it’s great to have options. This is a photo that can be put on a scrapbook page without worry about damaging the original. It can also be endlessly reprinted to share with all of Catherine's children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren. Although Catherine is no longer living, her spirit and memory live large in her descendants.

Hope this has given you ideas for your own old and damaged photos.

Scrappy Gen

09 November 2010

Scrappy Genealogist Goes to New York – Part 4 Great Grandma Catherine’s Birthplace

The second day of our frenetic visit to New York City found us here:
With my family in tow (in a hired car), I was looking for the home of this precious beauty, my great grandmother, Catherine:

Grace Catherine Infant001

It’s hard to say who was cuter, Catherine, or this kid:

Smith Edward School Boy002

You have to love those freckles. This adorable guy was Catherine's son and you already know him as Bubba, the Sailor Man. While we were in New York City, we visited 401 East 10th Street in Manhattan. This was the home address of Catherine’s parents, Edward and Sarah, at the time of her birth in 1899 as indicated on her birth certificate. 

Corner of East 10th and C Streets (2 of 2)

Here is the building (above) which is at the location Google Maps gives for 401 East 10th Street. The photo below shows the same building from the front, which faces Avenue C. The address above the door shows that it is number 170. A website of virtual walking tours in Manhattan called New York Songlines indicates it was built in 1967. 

Corner of East 10th and C Streets (1 of 2)

Obviously this was not the home of my great grandmother, although the 1900 U.S. census did show them living at 170 Avenue C and not 401 East 10th Street. I had expected them to be living in a building similar to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and similar to the buildings (shown below) across both Avenue C and East 10th Street from this more modern building. 

   Corner of East 10th and C Streets (4 of 3)        Corner of East 10th and C Streets (3 of 3)

I took a look at some old maps to see what the area looked like in the past. This snippet of an 1852 map from the David Rumsey Map Collection shows Stage Stables at the future location of  401 East 10th Street. Click on the map to be taken to the original image. 

1852 NY Rumsey Map overlay showing 401 E 10th St and St. Bridgets Cathedral

Here is a later image of the same address in 1891. The stables have become a Horse Car Stable and seem to take up a smaller area. The street number range provides for the house numbers in Catherine’s records.

Corner of East 10th and C Streets 1892 (1 of 1)

The buildings along the stretch of Avenue C between from 162 through 172 appear to have been similar in size to other brick multifamily buildings still in existence today and which I photographed in the area. Most likely Catherine did live in a building similar to the Tenement Museum. Although I did not get to see the original home of my great grandmother, it still felt more concrete (no pun intended) to stand on the street where she lived. As much fun as I have with David Rumsey’s maps and Google Maps, nothing beats visiting a place in person.
This is my last installment of our two day whirlwind trip to New York City. You can read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 here.

Thanks for reading!

Scrappy Gen
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