24 November 2014

5 Questions for Thanksgiving

Would you like some conversation starters for your Thanksgiving feast? After the chewing slows and before desert begins, try asking one of these 5 questions for Thanksgiving. 
  1. What is your earliest memory of Thanksgiving? Who was there? Where was it? What did you eat? 
  2. Which Thanksgiving was your favorite or most memorable and why?
  3. Did you ever celebrate Thanksgiving in an unusual way? How? 
  4. Who did the cooking for Thanksgiving when you were a kid? 
  5. Did you have any special traditions; a place you went or an activity you did?

These questions are great for learning about your family history or about your friends' lives. Telling stories brings everyone closer together. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Let's Remember!

19 November 2014

Recording it for Posterity

Video for Family HistoryPart 1

Have you thought about creating family videos? 

If you are over the age of ten, you have probably already made at least one video of yourself or your friends. Most of you have phones that record video. Let me tell you about my grandfather and his videos.

My Grandfather, known to his grandchildren as Bubba, recorded thousands of feet of video tape during his life. He recorded his children, his siblings, his nieces and nephews and of course his grandchildren. It is possible for me to view in video most big events from my childhood right through and including my wedding. Bubba taped that too.

If you listen to the later movies after Bubba bought a video camera with sound, you can hear his chuckle, or his quiet prompts for you to do something for the camera. I loved his chuckle. If we ever complained about being taped (I remember not loving it when I was a teenager.), he would remind us that we were “recording it for posterity.” At the time I didn’t know exactly what posterity was, but Bubba said it, which meant it was important.

Posterity means all future generations. How cool that Bubba recorded our lives as they unfolded for our children and our children’s children and their children. He was our family historian, creating an amazing record of the lives of his family members.

Bubba recorded his movies on film. Digital didn’t exist yet. His first sound camera was immense. Now, video cameras fit in your pocket. 

At the holidays this year, whip out your phone and try recording your family members. Ask them questions about what they are doing. If they have a special skill, ask them to perform it. Ask them how they celebrated the holidays when they were younger. If they complain, tell them you are recording it for posterity. Your children’s children will thank you.

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Let's Remember!

11 November 2014

How to Sideload Apps to your Kindle Fire HDX

This is an update to my articles; Android Apps for Kindle Fire and How to Sideload Apps onto the Kindle Fire

In 2011, I bought my first Kindle Fire. Today I have graduated to the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 Tablet and I still love the Kindle system. The only challenge is that three of my must have apps are not available in the Amazon app store, including Dropbox, Roboform and Zinio

This tutorial will show you how to sideload almost any app available as a .apk file onto your Kindle Fire, HD or HDX. 

Step 1 : download the .apk file to your computer
  • go to the software maker's website and look for an android or Kindle Fire download
  • try the Good e-Reader app store or 1Mobile Market
  • if you have an android based phone, you can copy the app file from it to your computer and from your computer to your Kindle Fire
  • be creative, search Google for ("Kindle Fire" AND "name of app")
Step 2 : approve apps from unknown sources
  • from top of Kindle screen swipe down
  • tap the settings gear icon
  • tap Applications
  • at the top of the screen, find 'Apps from Unknown Sources' and to the right tap On
Step 3 : copy the .apk file to your kindle
  • connect Kindle to computer via usb
  • copy .apk app file from computer Download folder 
  • navigate to Kindle download folder
  • paste file
Step 4 from Amazon App store, install Easy Installer
  • do this step directly in the app store from your Kindle
Step 5 : install app on Kindle Fire HDX
  • open Easy Installer
  • check the box next to the app you wish to Install
  • click Install at the bottom of the screen
  • if the app does not appear; 1. Tap the icon which appears in the top right corner of the screen. It looks like a column of 3 boxes. 2. Tap Scan Apps 3. The app file should appear. 3. If it does not, make sure you have followed the directions and that your Kindle was plugged into your computer during transfer of the .apx file. 
I hope this made the Kindle Fire sideloading process a little bit easier for you. Let me know if you have any questions. What other apps do you wish the Amazon app store offered? I am off to see if I can find an Instagram app download. 

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Let's Remember!

07 October 2014

Today's Tip - Search for Place under Surname on FamilyTreeDNA

Have you submitted your DNA for the Family Finder test offered by FamilyTreeDNA? Here is a tip for narrowing down your results to those that are more relevant to your ancestral places.

Under Family Finder - Matches, find the sorting box for Ancestral Surnames. Enter the ancestral location of interest. Do not add the surname. The surname locations are indexed together with the surnames. The results will include all matches who have indicated that one of their ancestors originated from the target location. 

Searching Family Finder matches by place will help you:

  • survey surnames originating from a particular location
  • connect with individuals whose ancestors originated from the same small town, village or shtetl

Happy Searching!

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Let's Remember!

01 October 2014

Go See Your Grandma

When was the last time you thought about your grandma? Thanks to the Meet My Grandma initiative, #MeetMyGrandma, from FamilySearch.org, lots of people are talking about their grandmas. This initiative from the LDS church is to encourage their younger generation to capture stories from their older family members. An emotional connection (grandma!) and great social media marketing have made it popular and I hope it catches on with young and old alike, including with those of us who are not part of the LDS church.

Before it’s too late, go see your grandma. Talk with her. Ask her about her life. Not sure what to ask? Try this list from the Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog; Fifty Questions for Family History Interviews. Don’t exhaust her and try to ask all of them. Let her talk as long as she wants and follow her lead. 

Their suggestion to tell one story you love about your grandma is simple and easy to accomplish. I was lucky to know two grandmothers and two great grandmothers and I have stories to tell, but you know what I wish? I wish I had asked them more questions while they were here on Earth. 

What are you waiting for? Go. Go now. Call her. Email her. Get in the car or on a plane and go see her. Talk with her and don't forget to listen. 

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Let's Remember!

p.s. you can see my grandmothers here, here, here, here, here and here

30 September 2014

My Genealogy Sabbatical Year

If you could spend each of the next twelve months living in one of your ancestral locations and researching on-site, where would you go? 

Join me as we dream up our genealogy sabbatical years. The rules for the genealogy sabbatical year meme are that you have enough money to support yourself and you are free of regular life responsibilities. There is nothing that will distract you from your mission, family history immersion research. 

Month 1: Connecticut         
My first stop would be the state of Connecticut. It isn’t far from New Hampshire, but life responsibilities keep me from spending an extended amount of time there. My paternal grandfather’s lines are embedded in Connecticut for generations. My mother’s parents’ families settled in Connecticut in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Both sides immigrated to Connecticut, her mother’s from Prussia, today Poland; her father’s mother’s family from Ireland to Canada to Vermont and then to Connecticut; and her father’s father’s family from Ireland.

Month 2: Massachusetts
The second month would find me next door in Massachusetts. My paternal grandmother’s roots are here. Her mother’s family came from Northern Ireland in the late 1800s, while her father’s family has been here for generations.

Month 3: New York
I was well into Northern Ireland in my mental trip planning, when I realized that before I headed to Ireland, I must go to New York. My grandfather’s maternal grandmother died with child at a young age so we didn’t learn a lot about her family from family lore. Her mother’s maiden name was Diamond, which brought us the only family story I have heard which was that she was related to the family of the Diamond match company. I have not found that connection. The Diamonds and Murtaghs most likely arrived in New York between 1830 and 1840. My Murtagh 2x great grandfather's headstone indicates he was from Old Ballinacargy, County Westmeath, Ireland

Months 4-5: Poland and Germany
After gathering all that I can in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York with a possible side trip to Rhode Island during one of the first two months, I would spend the next months in Poland and Germany. Both of my maternal grandmother’s parents came from the area of Włocławek near the Wisła or Vistula River. While I can get along in German and can roughly translate Russian, I would need assistance with Polish records. Luckily, per the rules of the genealogy sabbatical year, I can afford to hire a guide or a local genealogist.  Germany is included in this research plan because these grandparents were Germans from Russia, or Prussia, or Poland, depending on the year. While further research is needed to determine their German ancestral origin, part of my family fled the Soviets before WWII and went back to Germany, where they ended up living in the East until 1990 when the two sides reunited shortly after the wall began to come down in 1989. There is both modern and ancient family history to pursue, including known living relatives.

Month 6: Canada
From Poland or Germany, I would fly back to Canada and visit Quebec and Ontario. My grandfather’s grandfather was born in Montreal, while the family was migrating from St. Columban, Quebec to Vermont. The story is that the family arrived in Canada in the late 1820s from Freshford, Kilkenny,Ireland. I am hoping to hunt down some records regarding their early time in Canada and firm up the connection back to Ireland.

Month 7: Northern Ireland
From Canada after a possible stop south of the boarder in Vermont, I would head to Northern Ireland. My grandmother’s mother, Mabel Hill, was born in Belfast and Mabel’s father, William Hill, was born in Ballymoney. The Hill family had been there since at least the early 1800s. They were Presbyterians. They were most likely English or Scottish. William, his wife Annie, and Mabel oft repeated for American records that they were English. William’s middle name was McPherson. Annie’s maiden name was Connor(s) and had family living in Scotland. I hope to find Annie’s birth record and learn more about where her family’s origins as well as the origins of the Hill family.

Month 8: Ireland
From Northern Ireland I would head south to Ireland in pursuit of my Catholic forebears. I have two known possible towns to explore. Hopefully further research in New York and Connecticut would reveal more information about the origins of my grandfather’s father’s family. They were Smiths, so it shouldn’t be that difficult.

Months 9-10: Scotland and England
Until now during my genealogy sabbatical year I have been working on locating the ancestral origins of my great through 3x great grandparents. If I have learned enough in Connecticut, Massachusetts and in Northern Ireland, I may be able to head to Scotland and/or England to learn about the places from which my earlier ancestors hailed.

Months 11-12: Revisit or Recap
I would use this time to revisit the documents, narrative research notes, photographs and connections I have amassed throughout the year. I would focus on organizing and filing or displaying as well as editing the narrative research notes. The notes would serve as a basis for my finding reports. 

Time for Your Genealogy Sabbatical Year
How would you spend your genealogy sabbatical year? Where would you go? What would you do? Dream big!

Have fun dreaming and planning and let us know where you will be. 

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Let's Remember!

22 September 2014

How to Find a Genealogy Record Group on Almost Any Website

Have you had trouble relocating a genealogy record group on a website? My hard-to-find record group is the New England Petitions for Naturalization 1787-1931 on FamilySearch.org. I can easily find the Index for this collection, but not the images. When I use FamilySearch.org, I usually search by locality as follows; 
  • hover over search
  • click catalog
  • click places
  • fill in United States, New England
  • click on Naturalization and citizenship

The images are not listed. What to do?

Collection or Record Group Finding Shortcut

In the search bar of your browser, enter the collection you seek enclosed by "" followed by site:website address.

The top three search results will take you to the access point for the petition for naturalization images. The catalog page for this collection of images shows it is catalogued by the New England states, but not by New England. 

What is your hard-to-find genealogy record group? Remember to try searching with "collection name" site:website address

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Let's Remember!

04 September 2014

Photo Scanning - ScanMyPhotos.com Review

This summer ScanMyPhotos.com offered a great deal; $99.00 for a postage paid box to hold 1,800 of my photos for scanning. Their website shows that they are still offering this deal. 

My family and I have used FotoBridge for slide scanning and were happy with their service. I wrote a review in 2011. This time I decided to try ScanMyPhotos.com and sent photos for scanning, so this is not an apples to apples comparison, but a review of the ScanMyPhotos.com service and scanning results. I am not being paid and was not asked for this review. I ordered my $99 box on 25 June 2014 and received it very quickly on 27 June. 

The $99 price was my incentive to go through my old magnetic albums and remove the stuck on photos from the yellow tinged pages. Before I removed the pictures from the pages, I snapped an iPhone photo of each page. 


ScanMyPhotos.com requires that photos be grouped by size. Because most of my photos were already organized chronologically (something I have been doing since the age of 9) I did not want to lose that organization to size grouping. ScanMyPhotos.com offers a scan in order option for an additional fee of $50. When I double checked this price today, I found some confusing links. One link reported that they no longer offer this option, while another indicated the price was $315. I contacted customer service and they do still offer it, but the price is now $55

This is a picture of a large group of mixed pictures being sorted by size. The smaller photos pictured, or wallet type photos, can not be scanned. Photos must be at least 3"x3". 

For the scan in order option, each group of photos must be clearly numbered. I used index cards before each group and included a additional information such as years. Only elastic bands can be used and not plastic bags. The directions indicate that if plastic bags are used, the photos will be returned unscanned. I did not like the sole use of rubber bands. When I sent the photos I was careful to put the elastic bands around the photos in one direction, the short way, or the way that all photos were the same. When returned all of the photo groups were bound in two directions causing some damage to the photo edges. I also did not love how the photos were repacked into the box. The groups were bent in several cases. Luckily none of the damage was too severe. 

The only other damage I found was that a corner of one photo was torn. I received the photo minus the small corner piece, but the piece is visible in the scan. The artifacts are part of the original photo and not caused by the scan. I cannot say for certain that there wasn't a weakness in the photo in that spot. 

Because of the elastic bands around the photos, the way they were packed back into the box and the fact that one of the groups, group 10 below, although scanned correctly was not regrouped correctly, I feel that my photos did not get super duper careful handling.  


Because we had a big family event, I added the $40 fee to rush my order. I did not write down how many days it took, but it was super fast. 


In conclusion, if you have a large number of photos to be scanned and they are not already in chronological order, ScanMyPhotos.com would be a good option. I feel that they do a better job with the photos grouped by exact size. They had difficulty keeping everything in order for the return. For the money, the $99 box for 1,800 photos is an exceptional value. 

Comparison to FotoBridge.com

Today's price on FotoBridge.com for 2,000 photos at 300dpi is $349.95, a significant difference. The package at FotoBridge.com includes 2 jpg sizes, one at 300dpi and one web ready for uploading to social media sites and sharing via email. The photo size allowed has a broader range from 2" x 2.5" to 8.5" x 12". Important to me for my next order is that FotoBridge.com requests that photo groups be grouped, if possible, by size and that the groups be sealed in plastic bags, no nasty rubber bands required! Scanning in order does not require an extra charge. An additional service they offer is text note archiving wherein they scan the reverse of each photo and link it by name to the front. This seems reasonable at a cost of $99.

Please remember, there is always a risk of loss or damage when sending photos away to any company

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Let's Remember!

03 September 2014

Family History Stories

Just a quick hello to say I have been enjoying organizing photos and memories for telling more family history stories. 

What have you been working on?

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!

02 April 2014

Free Analysis Spreadsheet - MPG2 - Study Group 2 - Chapter 5

Chapter 5 in Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones brings us to the third element of the Genealogical Proof Standard, analysis and correlation.[1] In order to meet the proof standard we must evaluate each source and within each source each item of information and the evidence identified therein. What works best for me is to enter source, information and evidence items into my handy dandy Excel spreadsheet

Below is an updated version of the spreadsheet. Be sure to read Chapter 5, pages 53 through 71 in order to understand "why we must test our sources, information, and evidence."[2]

Let me know what you think of the spreadsheet. Would you add anything? 

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!

[Book available from the publisher, http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/mastering_genealogical_proof in both print and Kindle versions.]

This post is part of DearMyrtle's Hangout on Air series, MGP2 Study Group 2, studying Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones.Hangouts are every Sunday morning at 10:00 AM Eastern US time. Join us to learn more about the discipline of genealogical work and how adhering to its standards will improve your family history results. Your family will thank you. 

[1] Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 53-71.
[2] Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof, 53.

01 April 2014

Citation Conversation - MPG 2 - Study Group 2 - Chapter 4

This post is part of DearMyrtle's Hangout on Air series, MGP2 Study Group 2, studying Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones.[1] Hangouts are every Sunday morning at 10:00 AM Eastern US time. Join us to learn more about the discipline of genealogical work and how adhering to its standards will improve your family history results. Your family will thank you. 


Source citations are the second element of the Genealogical Proof Statement. There are different views on the essential purpose(s) of source citations. The first most commonly stated purpose is to be able to find the source in which a piece of information was found and from which its evidence was derived. However, according to Thomas W. Jones in Chapter 4 “GPS Element 2: Source Citations” of Mastering Genealogical Proof, citations perform a greater and more complicated service by supporting our “genealogical proof statements, summaries and arguments.”[2] In order to do this our citations should show the scope of our research, the validity of our sources as well as document where we found our information and how we came to our conclusions.

  “to transmit information, thought, or feeling
  so that it is satisfactorily received or understood”[3]

The thing that resonated with me in this chapter was Dr. Jones’ use of the word communicate in reference to the role performed by “complete and accurate genealogical citations.”[4]  I imagined a little citation cheerleader cheering from the bottom of the page. Whenever you arrive at a new reference number in the text, the dude at the bottom shouts up more information about what preceded the number. You hear what he said, reread what came before the number, then reread the citation at the bottom and make your own conclusion about whether or not the author’s statements were based on sound research practices.

Citations are part of a back and forth, a conversation. Although placed apart from the text they support, source citations are a part of the whole. They aren’t stagnant, they are talking. Just like a good cheerleader at a sports game can help lift the level of play and the spirits of the fans, a clear, complete, standard citation assists in elevating a statement, summary or argument to the level of proof.

Citation Conversation:

If we want to give our family history summaries more credence, should we not include a vital part of our work, our source citations, in what we post online? Are we doing ourselves, our readers and our future family members a disservice? I talked about my thinking in My GPS Bad! Read Chapter 4 and tell me what you think. Chapter 4 includes extensive details on what should be included in source citations and standard formats for how to form them.

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!

[Book available from the publisher, http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/mastering_genealogical_proof in both print and Kindle versions.]

[1] Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013).
[2] Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof, 33.
[3] Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, Massachusetts: G. & C. Merriam Company, 1980), 225.
[4] Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof, 33.

23 March 2014

Scrapbook Sunday - 52Ancestors - Emilia Kiesel

According to my maternal line great grandmother's confirmation certificate, Emilia [Emilie] Kiesel was born 20 May 1895 in Wistka Szlachecka, Russia [today Poland]. She was confirmed at Evangelish Lutheran Kirche Nowa Wies on 2 May 1909.1 She died 4 March 1974 in Bristol, Connecticut.2

She married August Ginter 6 May 1914 at Evangelical Lutheran Immanuels Kirche in Bristol.3  Together they had six children; Edmund born 1916,4 Ruth [my grandmother] born 1917,5 Helen born 1917,6 Lydia born 1923,7 Ernest born 19298 and Dorothy born 1938. All lived to adulthood, married and had children except Dorothy, who passed away in 1939 at five months old.9

Happy Scrapbook Sunday!
Let’s Remember!

This challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is provided by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small  (Don't you just love that title?). I am jumping in on week three, which will be my week one, but I am omitting the number count in my title so as not to confuse anyone...or me. Thank you, Amy, for this challenge. Weekly recaps by Amy can be read here

As a bonus, because I am the Scrappy Genealogist, each of my posts will include a heritage page featuring my ancestor. Hope you enjoy them! 
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