I appreciate your spare time!

Genealogy CircleWe’re all pretty busy anymore, aren’t we? Whether we work full time, part time or are retired there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get everything done! You know what I’m saying and I’m right there with you.

I also know how valuable your spare moments are and I’m grateful you spend a few of yours here with me. If you’re a regular reader you probably already know I research Civil War soldiers, learning their stories, sharing and preserving them so they’re not lost to history.

I also write about how you can start your research on your own Civil War ancestor or continue it. I explain the how-to and whys of finding out about his military service.

I include tips on research with links, examples of research found and some history on battles, available record sets, etc.

My goal here is to help family historians learn how to uncover their ancestors Civil War experiences and document what they find to share with future generations.

Thank you for all the times you’ve stopped by and read my posts. I appreciate your spare time. I’ve recently updated my About page. Please take a look at it and I hope you’ll continue spending a few moments with me here at Genealogy Circle. It’s always nice to meet up again.

Re-energize Your Research! Re-energize You!


Photo Credit: ctr @ freeimages.com

The last couple weeks have been busy at our house. Celebrating Easter, Confirmation and the final tournament of club volleyball season has kept my little family on the go. You know how it is, with all these events packed into a couple weeks. There’s less researching, less writing, less Facebook time and less Twitter on my part.

At first I was really bothered by that. No blog posts! Few tweets! Everyone will forget me! Oh no! The earth will quit turning! But as the days went by and I enjoyed my family events I realized the sun came up every morning even without a new blog post or Facebook message from me.

Maybe it’s happened before to you too. The pressure you feel (probably self-imposed) to keep up with social media, along with your blog writing and blog reading. Somehow we get in the mindset that pushing harder for more blog posts, more tweets, more of everything makes us smarter and much more professional. Then if it doesn’t get done a small somewhat frantic panic sets in. There’s so much “computer work” to do and what if I don’t get it all done! I’ve felt just that way these past couple weeks but you know what? I came to a realization.

It’s okay to step away from the grid now and then. We need time to re-energize and to restore our enthusiasm for genealogy, our research, in fact our daily life!

My online dictionary tells me this about re-energize:

rē-ˈenərjīz/ verb; give fresh vitality, enthusiasm, or impetus to

You know what? That’s exactly what stepping away has done for me these past couple weeks. In the time away I’ve done some thinking about my writing and research. I’ve spent some quiet time planning what direction I want my blog to take. I feel good about my decisions. I feel refreshed. I’m ready to get back on track. I found that I’m more than ready to learn, to research and write again. I want to jump back into social media and see what my friends have been up to and you know what? I don’t feel guilty about the time spent with those who mean the most to me or the moments I spent listening to my own thoughts.

Every now and then I think we all should unplug for a few days. No stressing about it, just enjoying some time to ourselves. We all need to regroup now and again and how much better our contributions will be if we’re enthusiastic and re-energized! So look at your calendar and take some time to unplug. I am!

Using Newspapers in your Civil War Research


Photo Credit: boria at http://www.sxc.hu/

**Newspapers may be one of the last resources you have on your Civil War ancestor check list. In fact as a family historian you may shy away from newspapers. Genealogists are well aware that newspapers, although chock full of history including names and dates can be tedious to research. Many historical newspapers are still not indexed so the researcher needs to select an approximate date and physically scan page after page for any information or a reference to information regarding their ancestor. UGH!

Please don’t let this put you off from researching your Civil War ancestor via newspapers. There is so much to learn about this turbulent era of our country’s history by reading the articles, ads and editorials of the day. Reading historical newspapers really puts you in your ancestor’s footprints. It’s almost like a form of time travel.

Start off by checking the local newspapers from your Civil War veteran’s hometown or locale during the war. The search will produce articles about the regiments that were raised in the area as well as citing soldiers’ by name. These articles may list battles fought, some in extensive detail, naming those injured, killed or missing from the regiment.

Many times soldiers themselves wrote home about their own personal experiences and that of the regiment. The local papers would print those letters in their entirety. There were two newspapers in my hometown during the Civil War. Captain Mart Armstrong, Co. B 81st Ohio Volunteer Infantry wrote a weekly letter home that was printed by both newspapers. From training drills in camp to actual combat the folks at home were kept apprised of their hometown hero’s military life.

The political fervor of your Civil War ancestor’s hometown is also revealed in era newspapers. I just assumed living in the Yankee north this area was a big backer of President Lincoln’s reelection in 1864. Reading newspaper articles from that time I find this area had a good many “Peace Democrat” or “Copperhead” residents that were vocal during the presidential campaign.

Along with articles and letters about the regiments movements hometown papers also have snippets about daily life and how the residents were doing their part to support their boys in the war. Some of these columns are just as interesting and important as reading about the soldiers themselves.

Gleaning all this information from historical newspapers helps the researcher better understand your Civil War ancestor, the climate of the times he lived in and perhaps his view on the events unfolding around him. Continue reading

Do local Genealogy Societies have anything to offer today’s researcher?

I attended my local genealogy society’s workshop recently. Held every couple of years the Allen County (Ohio) Genealogical Society‘s symposium provided lots of information for the beginning genealogist as well as the more experienced family historian. So many times members shy away from a local workshop opting for the larger state and national conventions figuring there isn’t much to learn at a smaller, local event.

I disagree!

A local workshop can provide a great deal of information, hints and tips to a family historian without travel, overnight expenses or other additional fees. The meeting I attended is a perfect example of that. Two fantastic speakers took us through the day pointing the genealogy enthusiasts in new directions for their research.

Peggy Clemens Lauritzen

Peggy Clemens Lauritzen

First was well known and well loved genealogist Peggy Clemens Lauritzen or Miss Peggy as her adoring fans call her. Miss Peggy had two presentations for the day. Ticked Off – Those Pesky Pre-1850 Tic Marks and Homespun and Calico – Discovering Your Female Ancestors. With Miss Peggy’s down-home charm and lively presentations the audience received solid research information for their future ancestor investigations and had loads of fun listening to her anecdotes and folksy humor.

Debbie Carder Mayes

Debbie Carder Mayes

Our other speaker was ACGS‘s own Debbie Carder Mayes. Not only was Debbie the force behind the organization of the workshop she was also a presenter. Debbie’s topics complimented those given by Miss Peggy. Debbie spoke on Federal Population Census Data, 1790 – 1930 and Finding Eliza Jane—Using Civil War Records to Fill out Your Family Tree. Out of respect for the speakers and their well researched presentations I won’t give details about their talks but I will say I learned much more about using the Federal Census and will be spending a lot more time on them. I have a few more thoughts on tracking down the female ancestors in my family tree too.

So when the opportunity arises to attend a local genealogy workshop jump at the chance!

  •  You’ll broaden your knowledge and sharpen your skills.
  •  Meet other area family historians and share information. Who knows you may be speaking with a distant cousin!
  •  Attending these workshops also gives you the chance to pose questions to the presenter at the end of their talk. Their recommendations may tumble a formidable brick wall or two.
  •  Just as important your attendance supports your local genealogical society.

Without you, your suggestions and dues, local societies are not able to exist. I hate to think our lack of participation today in genealogy societies may contribute to their demise and hurt the future researcher.

What’s your experience with a local genealogy workshop? I hope you’ll share in the comments!

Everyone Has an Agenda What’s Yours?

My Backyard

As I look out my window

October snuck into our lives this week. With warm temps and sunny skies it’s more like the end of August than the first fews days of fall here in Ohio, but there’s no mistaking autumn has arrived. Leaves are changing colors and the evenings are decidedly cooler. My flowers are looking a bit ragged and will soon be plucked out of their beds with the first frost. Even though it’s very warm out now autumn is in the air.

Am I sad to see summer wane? Oh no. Now don’t get me wrong I love sunny summer days with baseball games and barbeques. Summer has a delicious casualness we all love to embrace from the clothes we wear to the food we eat. It’s truly a reenergizing time of year and probably needed with winter soon on the horizon again. For me summer seems to extend through September and that’s okay. Squeezing out those last few moments of sunshine and flip flops is invigorating, but once I turn the calendar’s page to October I don’t mind what fall brings.

October is “get back to your genealogy research” month. Summer is a hiatus from research with so many other events going on. Lots of reading and fact finding gets put on the back burner but once October bursts on the scene I’m thinking cemetery and courthouse visits with to do lists and field trips. In fact October is sort of a “new year” for me genealogy-wise. I take stock of what I’ve accomplished and where I want to go with my research. (2x grandfather James Nance you’re at the top of my list. I’m looking for you!)

Ironically I didn’t realize October was Family History month until I saw several messages about it on Facebook. Here I’ve been celebrating it every October in my own way. So to all of us family historians and genealogists Happy Family History month! Happy October! May the genealogy gods smile down on us as we ramp up our research!

I’m making out my genealogy to-do list for this fall. How about you? What’s on your genealogy agenda? Please share your thoughts in the comments. You may just give us all some inspiration!