Wednesday, October 8, 2014

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Jamie Baisley

Jamie Baisley and Grace Culp next to auto,  photograph, c. 1930s; original photograph, privately held by Karin Coppernoll, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,], Washington. The original photograph was supposedly taken by Albert Pastoor, the husband of Jamie Baisley's aunt, Edna (Baisley) Pastoor. It was taken near the Baisley farm in Dutchess County, New York. The photograph was inherited by Albert's son, John Pasteur upon the death of his mother, Edna Pastoor in 1955. In 1998, John Pasteur then gave the photograph to his daughter, Karin Coppernoll, who made this digital image of the original photograph.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Sarah Ann Losee

Sarah Ann 
wife of 
Daniel Losee
Jan. 9, 1880
Aged 59 yrs
2 mo. & 11 ds.

Find A Grave database ( : accessed 19 Sep 2014), memorial page for Sarah Ann Losee ( -1880), Find A Grave memorial no. 53,418,196; created by Gene Baumwoll CSW, 8 Jun 2010; citing Yorktown Church Cemetery, Yorktown, Westchester County, New York; the accompanying photograph by Gene Baumwoll CSW, added 8 Jun 2010, provides a legible image of the inscribed data and he notes that Sarah's stone, beside her husband's, has fallen.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Will of Sarah A. Losee

Amanuensis: "one who is employed to take dictation or copy manuscripts." (The American Heritage High School Dictionary).

In the name of God Amen
                                        I Sarah Ann Losee
of Yorktown County of Westchester N.Y. wife 
of Daniel W Losee being of sound and dis
posing mind and memory and consider
ing all uncertainty of this life do make
publish and declare this to be my last
Will and Testament as follows
First After All my lawful debts are paid 
I give to my sister Phoebe Emily Losee my
farm situated in Yorktown County of
Westchester N.Y. where I now reside. with
all the farming utensils and stock therein 
during her natural life. After her death 
to be given to her chldren share alike.
2d It is my will that my husband Daniel
W Losee have a home on said farm during
his life provided he remains single.
3rd It is my will that my sister Phoebe
Emily Losee pay to my sister Martha the sum
of Fifty ($50) dollars per year during her life
in the event of my sister Phoebe Emily's death
then the yearly sum of Fifty Dollars to cease.
4th I give to my niece Emma Jane Smith
one Feather bed and bedstead with bed
5th I give to Schuyler S. Losee one Feather bed
and bedding
6th It is my will that my sister Phoebe Em
mily furnish the sum of Fifty ($50) Dollars 
to be expended on a head stone for my father
Isaac Losee
It is my will that my Executrix [take] the cash
[page break]
in Peekskill Bank to furnish pay funeral
I hereby appoint my sister Phoebe Emily
Losee of Yorktown Westchester county N.Y. herein
before mentioned to be Executrix of this my
last Will and Testament hereby revoking
all former wills by me made
In Witness whereof I have hereunto sub
scribed my name and affixed my seal 
the twenty seventh day of September in
the year of our Lord one thousand eight
hundred and seventy nine
George F. Ferris}              Sarah Ann Losee {seal}
George Morton


The will of Sarah Ann Losee is an interesting read and one of the few I've found for my female relatives. After reading the will, I have formulated several hypotheses:
  • In neither Sarah's or Daniel's will are any sons or daughters mentioned; everything is bequeathed to siblings or nieces and nephews. Therefore I am guessing that Sarah and Daniel had no children or their children died young;
  • Since Sarah names her sister, Phoebe Emily Losee, and their father, Isaac Losee, I'm guessing their maiden name is the same as their married names, Losee;
  • The Schuyler S. Losee mentioned is likely her nephew, who is enumerated with Phoebe and Samuel R. Losee on the 1870 census;
  • and, Sarah's niece, Emma Jane Smith, is probably the Emma who is enumerated with Samuel and Phoebe on the 1870 census.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Daniel W. Losee

According to his probate papers, Daniel's tombstone was purchased from E.R. Palmer for $36. The undertaker, Edward White, was paid $164.75 for the funeral and burial expenses. Both fees were paid from his estate by his executors, Jacob L. Outhouse and Joseph Outhouse. Daniel is buried beside his wife in Yorktown Church Cemetery, Yorktown, New York.

Find A Grave, database ( : accessed 19 Sep 2014), memorial page for Daniel W. Losee ( -1893), Find A Grave memorial no. 53,418,340; created by Gene Baumwoll CSW, 8 Jun 2010; photograph by Gene Baumwoll CSW, added 8 Jun 2010, provides a legible image of the inscribed data; citing Yorktown Church Cemetery, Yorktown, Westchester County, New York; Daniel's stone, beside his wife's, has fallen and is partially buried, but legible.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Amanuensis Monday #2

Amanuensis: "one who is employed to take dictation or copy manuscripts." (The American Heritage High School Dictionary).

The Will of Daniel W. Losee

In the Name of God, Amen, I, Daniel W. Losee 
of the Town of Cortlandt, County of Westchester
and State of New York being of sound mind
and memory and considering the uncertainty
of this frail and transitory life do therefore make
ordain publish and declare this to be my last
Will and Testament, that is to say:
First, After all my lawful debts are paid and
discharged I give and bequeath to my niece
Mariah Outhouse daughter of Jacob
Outhouse Five hundred Dollars ($500). One
Kane bottom Rocking chair and eight Kane
Chairs and one lot of china dishes.
Second. I give and bequeath to my nephew Jacob
L. Outhouse the sum [sic] of  Jacob Outhouse one
hundred dollars ($100) and my gold watch and
Third. I give and bequeath to my nephew War-
ren Outhouse the son of Jacob Outhouse One
hundred dollars ($100).
Fourth. I give and bequeath to my nephew Alonzo
C. Outhouse the son of Jacob Outhouse One
hundred dollars ($100)
Fifth. I give and bequeath to my niece Emily
Ann Lamb the wife of Jacob Lamb One hun-
drd dollars ($100).
Sixth. I give and bequeath to my niece Harriet
E. Ward the wife of Albert Ward One hundred
Dollars ($100).
Seventh. I give and bequeath to my niece Hetta
Outhouse wife of Joseph Outhouse One hun-
dred Dollars ($100).
Eighth. I give and bequeath to my niece Mary
Vrendenburg the wife of Clarence Vrendenburgh
One hundred Dollars ($100).
Ninth. I give and bequeath to my niece's daughter
Mabel Outhouse the daughter of Joseph and
Hetta Outhouse, one feather bed and bedding
and fifty-dollars ($50).
Tenth. I give and bequeath to my niece's daughter
Gracie Jordan the daughter of Clarence and Bell
Jordan my family bible and fifty-dollars ($50).
Likewise I make constitute and appoint Jacob
L. Outhouse and Joseph Outhouse to be my
executors of this my last Will and Testament hereby
revoking all former Wills by me made.
In Witness thereof I have hereunto subscribed
my name and affixed my seal the Twenty-first
day of August in the year of our Lord one
thousand and eight hundred and eighty-eight.
                [signed] Daniel W. Losee  {L.S.}
The above written instrument was subscribed by
the said Daniel W. losee in our presence and ac
knowledged by him to each of us and he at
the same time declared the above instrument so
subscribed to be his last Will and Testament and
we at his request have signed our names as
witnesses hereto in his presence and in the pres-
ence of each other and written opposite our names
our respective places of residence.
Reside in}  the Town of Cortlandt   [signed] E.W. Lounsbury
                   Town of Cortlandt         [signed] J. H. Jordan

Westchester, New York, Wills, Will book 119, p. 27, Daniel W. Losee, 21 Aug 1888 (proved 27 May 1893); digital images, "New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971," FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 June 2013).  Search "Westchester" > "Wills 1893-1894 vol 119-120" > image 33. Image is a composite from pages 27-29 for the purpose of this blog.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Daniel W. Losee, 1880 U.S. Census

Census Sunday
1880 U.S. census, Westchester County, New York, population schedule, Yorktown, enumeration district (ED) 133, p. 7 (penned), p. 429-C (stamped), dwelling 69, family 73, Daniel Losee household; digital images, ( : accessed 21 Sep 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 947. 

This is the household of the brother of my 3rd great-grandmother, Elizabeth (Losee) Outhouse. Daniel W. Losee died 13 years after this census. In 1880, he was living with his cousin, Phebe E. Losee, who was also his sister-in-law. Daniel's wife, Sarah, had died in January 1880, and I suspect Phebe, who was Sarah's sister and the executrix of her estate, was helping out.

Daniel W. Losee is a great example for why I love researching collateral relatives and not just my direct line ancestors. Daniel's will, which I will share in another blog post, names his siblings, their spouses, and his nieces and nephews, even listing the married names of the women. Had I not been researching Daniel, I may not have found the evidence I needed to firmly establish the family groups. And the Losee family is confusing. Both Sarah's and Phebe's maiden names were Losee and they both married Losee men. Several family members also married into the Outhouse family. The Losee-Outhouse family lines crossed many times. But more about that in a later post...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book of Common Prayer

It's Treasure Chest Thursday...

Among the family treasures I've inherited is this Book of Common Prayer. It belonged to my grandfather, Albert H. Pastoor and was printed in 1892. He inscribed the inside cover "To Helen From Albert May 19, 1913," and he included a couple of Bible verses, apparently his favorites.

Helen was his sister, but if he gave it to her, I don't know how it wound up in my father's possession. Sometime during the 1920s, Helen moved to California while Albert stayed in the New York/New Jersey area. My father doesn't remember ever meeting his Aunt Helen.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Baisley Farm

The Baisley Family at the Farm, photograph, ca. 1944; digital image, privately held by Hiztorybuff.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Amanuensis Monday #1: Pension Deposition

One of the blog prompts from Geneabloggers is Amanuensis Monday. Just in case you are wondering what amanuensis means, according to The American Heritage High School Dictionary, it means "one who is employed to take dictation or copy manuscripts." Although I'm not employed to do so (my many hours of personal research are volunteer hours), in future posts, I will share and transcribe the various documents I've come across in my research.

In my last blog, I shared the 1850 Census of my 3rd great-grandfather, Abram Lamb. I mentioned that he had two sons, one of whom, William, died before having any children. Thanks to a friend, I have in my possession a copy of William's widow's Civil War pension application. In that file were several depositions; I've chosen one of them to transcribe.

Deposition of Hester Hamilton and Catharine Lamb, 18 Nov 1865, filed with Jane L. Lamb's widow's pension application no. 122,590 (abandoned); service of William B. Lamb (Pvt, Company E, 168th New York Infantry Volunteers, Civil War); digital images provided by Carmen Cross, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 23 Aug 2014, without citation of file, series or record group; typically such files appear in record group 15, National Archives, Washington D.C.

State of New York
County of Westchester} ss: On this 18 day of Nov. 1865 personally came
before me a notary Public in afor said county & State Hester Hamilton
and Catharine Lamb whom I certify to be respectable & entitled to 
credit who being duly sworn depose & say; that the Rev. Samuel
N. St. John whose name is signed to the within certificate of mar
riage has left the State of New York with his family & has gone
to some place unknown to deponents, that they believe there is no
church or other public record of said Marriage, that there is no
                                                           of whom said St. John was pastor
one in charge of the Reformed Dutch Church or ^ its records, & that 
efforts have been made to procure the affidavit of said St. 
John as to such marriage, which have failed. that the only 
eye witne[ss] of such marriage, was the wife of said St. John
who has left the state with him, that said Jane L Lamb 
& William Lamb deceased, never had any child or children
& that these deponents have known said Lamb & wife ever
since the date of said marriage as contained in said certif
icate & that they so lived together & cohabited together as man
& wife from that time until the time of his death, except 
while he was absent in the service; that they were generally
known & reputed to be man & wife & were so treated & regarded,
that these facts are personally known to these deponents
and that they have no interest in the prosecution of this claim.
                                              [signed] Hester Hamilton
                                              [signed] Catharine Lamb

Sworn & subscribed to before me the day & year aforesaid & I certify
that I have no interest in said claim & that the foregoing affidavit
was read & fully explained [to the] affiants before they signed the same.
                                               [signed] J.J. Clapp Notary Public

Before receiving this pension file, I didn't know anything about William except his approximate age. So how do I know this is the correct William Lamb? One of the names of the deponents, Catharine Lamb, happens to be the name of William's mother. Jane L. Hamilton appears on the 1850 census with her parents, Robert and Hester Hamilton, just a few households from the Lamb family. Then there is a deed of land transfer (which I will discuss in a later blog) which names Catharine Lamb as the widow of Abraham Lamb, and William Lamb, one of his sons and heirs at law, and wife Jane L. Lamb. I'll be sharing their marriage certificate as well as the land records in later blog posts.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Abram Lamb in the 1850 Census

Census Sunday
1850 U.S. census, Westchester County, New York, population schedule, Town of Cortlandtd, p. 216-A (stamped), dw. 701, fam. 866, Abram Lamb household; digital images, ( : accessed 4 Jul 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 614. 

This census enumerates the household of my 3rd great-grandfather, Abram Lamb, age 35, on line 20. It is the only census on which he appears by name because he died in 1854.  My 3rd great-grandmother was Catharine Lent. I'm still searching for her parents and which branch of the Lent family she comes from. Her date of death is unknown, but she was still alive in 1865. My 2nd great-grandfather, Jacob Lamb, appears on line 25 at age 8. Since his brother, William, died at age 21, Jacob was the only male descendant of Abram to have children; he passed on the Lamb surname through his three sons, but I'm a descendant of his only daughter, Jennette.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Shopping Saturday: T.J. Maxwell & Co.

If you were a skilled seamstress living in Peekskill in the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, you might have been employed by T.J. Maxwell. As early as 1892, Mr. Maxwell operated a shirt factory at the corner of Division and Paulding Streets. His business employed about 49 sewing-machine operators, nearly all of whom were women. They earned a salary of less than eight dollars a week or they may have been paid by the piece. Either way, they worked nearly sunrise to sunset, and if they were late to work, they would have been penalized with a salary reduction or they may have received no wages for the day.

In 1902 a new factory on Broad Street was built. This modern-looking
four-story building boasted the “latest and best equipment for their business.” High-speed Singer sewing machines were used to manufacture Restwell brand pajamas, night shirts and “tub” dresses, linen suits for general wear. The work was steady and product was in high demand. Working conditions were generally harsh with the deafening noise of the machines and the break-neck pace required to keep up with the work load. The newer machines meant that now workers were expected  to sew twice as fast as they did just five years earlier. However, each year, in late summer, Mr. Maxwell closed the entire factory for two weeks to allow its operators a vacation.

By 1921, the factory had so many existing orders that Mr. Maxwell was able to employ “several hundred girls.” That was the year improvements were made to the building, likely the influence of labor unions. Due to “its height above the street,” the fourth floor of the factory had been unused, but now a new stairway and wider hallways were added. Fire resistant partitions between halls and work rooms, as well as an alarm on each floor improved work place safety. Doors that opened automatically with pressure were another improvement which allowed a quick exit by the operators in case of fire. The local fire department, Cortlandt Hook & Ladder No. 1, conducted fire drills at the factory.  In one such drill, using their tallest extension ladder, a fireman was able to make it to the roof of the factory in less than five minutes after the alarm was sounded.

Even in the small village of Peekskill, T.J. Maxwell’s shirt factory, by employing women as sewing machine operators, contributed to the nation-wide increase in labor opportunities for women in the United States.

The Highland Democrat (Peekskill, New York), 29 Oct 1892, p. 5, col. 1; digital image, Old Fulton New York Post Cards ( : accessed 5 Sep 2014); The Highland Democrat, 16 Aug 1902, p. 5, col. 2; The Highland Democrat, 3 Aug 1907, p. 5, col. 2.
G. M. Vescelius, compiler, Gems of the Hudson Peekskill and Vicinity, (Peekskill, New York: n.p., n.d.), 51; digital book, Internet Archive ( : accessed 5 Sep 2014).
Julius Mathews, Marketing Communications, vol. 65 (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University, 1908), 42; ebook, Google Books ( : accessed 5 Sep 2014).
James M. Lynch, Second Annual Industrial Directory of New York State 1913 (Albany: State Department of Labor, 1915), 725; digital image, Google Books ( : accessed 5 Sept 2014).
Women in Various Styles of Summer Dresses, 1910s still image, 1910; digital images, New York Public Library, "Mid-Manhattan Picture Collection," NYPL Digital Collections ( : accessed 5 Sep 2014); citing image ID no. 816671.
Factory and Industrial Management, vol. 9 (New York City: McGraw Hill Publishing Co, 1895), 1017, 1018; digital image, Google Books ( : accessed 5 Sept 2014). 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Couple with Pram

Family Faces from the Past

Unknown couple with pram, photograph, c. 1930-1940, digital image, privately held by Hiztorybuff.

This photograph was in a collection of family photographs owned by my maternal grandmother, Jean (Dabrowski) Chrzanowski, and inherited by her daughter (my mother). My mother gave me the original photograph which I then digitized. The original is still in possession of my mother.

The identity of the people in this photograph has been lost over time. It is unknown whether my grandmother was the original owner of the photo or if the couple was related to her, or to her husband. It was likely taken in Connecticut or New Jersey; however, since my grandmother had family in Poland, it may have been taken there.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

WSGC 2014 - Day 2

Amazing topics today from writing your family history to DNA to Internet genealogy and more. Joshua Taylor gave a great class about using Google and the Internet. He stressed the importance of using a research log during online searches to be a more effective genealogist. He also gave some great tips on how to use Boolean searches to find more databases using Google. I didn't know that a Google search only goes so deep into a website. Think back to what it was like to use a library card catalog. Just like a card catalog rarely has the name of our ancestor in a title, rarely will a Google search turn up the name of our ancestor in a useable database. Google is very powerful but we need to learn how to use it.

Mary Kathryn Kozy gave an excellent talk about autosomal DNA. I now understand why I might have a DNA match to someone who doesn't have any surname or location matches. DNA is a fascinating new branch of genealogy. Her talk inspires me to take advantage of the DNA sales and get more kits to test the older members of my family. The farther up the pedigree tree I can test, the farther back my DNA results will reach, and the more potential cousins I can find.

Have you started writing your family story yet? Stephen Morrison talked about the importance of telling our family stories. He had some practical ideas on how to get started and the key things to include. Documentation is just as important as the stories themselves; otherwise, they are just fiction. His discussion has spurred me to begin organizing what I have. I don't need to have "completed" my genealogy to write about it. I don't want to leave behind working files and a disorganized mess of notes; I want to leave behind something valuable that won't be tossed or sold in an estate sale after I'm gone.

Joshua Taylor wrapped up the conference by presenting an advanced case study from his own family tree. I'm a bit envious at the amazing documents and experiences he had. Although his family was not in the same location as mine, I can still learn from the techniques he used and apply them in my own research. Although I'm not in a place where I can travel to the locations where my ancestors lived to do onsite research—yet—I keep thinking someday...

All in all I'd say it was a successful conference. I'm energized and encouraged. Being with a large group of like-minded individuals is inspiring and I look forward to getting more involved in my local groups. I can't wait to put into practice the principals I've learned, and I'm even getting started on Book One of my family history today! For those of you who have never attended a conference and have only considered going, I highly recommend it. The energy and power behind all those minds in one place is a wonderful experience. There is so much potential to break down your brick walls if only you put yourself out there and ask.


Friday, August 15, 2014

WSGC 2014 - Day 1

What a full day! Thank goodness Eric Stroschein is a good speaker because I spent four hours in his classes on methodology today. Each skill-building class built upon the previous class. Using his own family research as an example and an interactive approach with his "audience," he demonstrated the genealogical process, using methodical evaluation of evidence from beginner level to advanced. Everyone, from newbie to advanced genealogist, could see the importance of following a standard. The final hour was an advanced case study using indirect and negative evidence. This is where he brought it all together using Excel tables to analyze seemingly unrelated evidence.

During the evening meal, we were treated to an excellent talk by D. Joshua Taylor about the Y generation and the family tree. Basically, he said that although it may look different than how we do genealogy, the Y generation is certainly interested in family history. Toss that pedigree chart and focus on the stories, adventure and people in the family tree. Our families are more than just names and dates on a chart. Did you know there is a video game called Family House which is essentially a game that creates a family tree? Did you know there is a program called TreeLines that is a story-centric family tree? What a great way to connect the generations and make sure our family legacy isn't lost to the ages. I think those programs are a great idea, not only for the Y generation, but for all those family members whose eyes glaze over when the charts come out.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

2014 WSGC

I'm in Arlington, Washington, for my first genealogy conference. D. Joshua Taylor from Genealogy Roadshow and Who Do You Think You Are? is the keynote speaker. There are 24 classes with great presenters from many different backgrounds. I'm registered for a series of workshops on methodology by professional genealogist Eric Stroschein—Using Direct Evidence, The Importance of Methodical Evidence Evaluation, Correlating and Analyzing Seemingly Unrelated Evidence, and Indirect and Negative Evidence Case Study—and that's just Friday!
Saturday will be a modge podge of workshops on topics like autosomal DNA, Internet research, and how to start writing about your ancestors. The conference wraps up with a case study.
I'm sure my brain will be on overload, but I'm going to try to blog throughout the conference. Of course, I have to fit in a visit to the vendor hall. Can a genealogist ever have too many books?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Second Quarter Update

It's time to evaluate my second quarter goals. Since I've been using Janine Adams' (Organize Your Family History) quarterly method now for two quarters, I'm amazed at what I've accomplished in my paternal grandfather's line. I decided this year I needed to reorganize and adapt my family history methods to "best practice" if I ever want to become a professional genealogist. Has Janine's method helped me? That's a resounding yes, though not to say that I haven't been distracted. I have spent a day here and there on another line. It's usually an email from a potential cousin that gets me running that rabbit trail. But for the most part, I've been able to stay disciplined and focused on my paternal line. So what have I accomplished this quarter?
  • All citations in my Pastoor line are complete and accurate, even if they aren't perfect. Every bit of data has a citation, including a media file and transcription;
  • Research plans have been created and brought up-to-date;
  • Research logs and correspondence logs have been updated or created as necessary;
  • Proof summaries have been written and saved;
  • Notes and supporting files have been moved or linked to OneNote;
  • Biography page has been created in OneNote to add stories as I go along;
  • Completed the Mastering Genealogical Proof study group.
Although I didn't further any research on this line, I'm more organized and prepared for targeted research. Productive quarter? You betcha.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Montrose Station, New York

The James Baisley family owned land near Montrose Station Road and near what was called Crugers Station in the late nineteenth century. Both places were stations on the Hudson Line of the Hudson River Railroad, later known as the New York Central Railroad, until they were abandoned in 1996 and replaced by a new station at Cortlandt.
The Erie canal had opened in 1825 which helped in the transport of goods across the state, but because the locks were very slow, stagecoaches would pile up causing the goods to be delayed. It was in response to this that the first railroad in New York was built in 1826. It was called the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad and went to the capital city of Albany.
A family photo of Montrose Station, c. 1940s
Because the towns along the Hudson River used the river heavily for transporting goods, they didn't see a need for a railroad until ice starting preventing travel in the winter. The Hudson River Railroad was formed and opened a line in 1851 in order to further extend the railroad. But it was only when Cornelius Vanderbilt purchased the railroad and merged it with other railroads he owned in 1869 that it became the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, and was later renamed the New York Central Railroad in 1914.
In 1861 Abraham Lincoln rode the Hudson River Railroad and stopped in Peekskill, one of the villages near Montrose and Crugers, on his way to his inauguration. I'm sure my Baisley ancestors were among the many people who lined the streets of Peekskill and along the Hudson River Railroad to see their future president. I found an obituary of a great-uncle mentioning the incident and an article describing how another great-uncle was injured when he fell out of a train at Montrose Station.
Unfortunately it appears that incidents on the Hudson River Railroad were not uncommon. There is a tragic story about an accident at the bridge near Montrose in the 11 June 1872 edition of The Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle. You never know what you will find while browsing old newspapers.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Not Quite a Billion Graves

This week since the weather was just right for photographing headstones, I decided to check both Find A Grave and BillionGraves for local cemeteries that needed photos. I had both apps but hadn't used either of them yet. The cemetery in my town was mostly taken care of in Find A Grave, but much to my surprise, it wasn't even listed in BillionGraves. So I added it and then went out to take pictures. Even though Find A Grave had many headstone photos, I thought it was worth while to add them to the other site. You can never have too much redundancy in genealogy. You never know when a site will disappear with all that data.
In less than two hours, I managed to photograph 265 headstones using the BillionGraves app, and that was only the first row of graves in the cemetery. Obviously, it is going to take me quite a while to photograph the 6000+ graves there.
I wasn't the only weirdo walking through the cemetery taking pictures. A woman with her niece was also taking pictures for the photo requests on Find A Grave. She wasn't local but her niece was; and she was the only one in her family interested in genealogy, just like me in my family. We compared notes and shared tips with one another. Anytime you see someone walking with a camera from grave to grave in a cemetery it is likely a genealogist. We are the only ones who think cemeteries are a social meeting place.
When I'm taking the pictures, I can't help but think about the people named on the headstones. So many seem to be forgotten and the graves uncared for. I like to take a moment at each grave just to remember that each person beneath the headstone had a life story. Infant and children's graves always sadden me as I think about the families and how grief stricken they must have been at their loss. So many of the older stones were very legible but some newer ones were worn away with names unreadable. A visual lesson in the wear patterns of the different types of stones.
I found a headstone for a Civil War veteran from Company A, 183rd Pennsylvania volunteer infantry. I added the link to the information I found on his page in BillionGraves, hoping it will be useful for a fellow genealogist. One of the more unusual names I came across was Return H. Deming and his wife, Mary. A quick search for him on, and I learned his wife's maiden name was Conover and that they both were from Ohio; they were living in Illinois in 1880 and had moved to Washington territory by 1887. Today's technology makes finding this information so much easier than when I first started researching.
The BillionGraves app was very easy to use. From the dashboard, just click "take photos" and start taking pictures. When you are done, at the click of a button, they will automatically upload to the site and be ready for transcribing. The biggest complaint I have with the app is the lack of editing tools. I had several photos which needed to be rotated. The BillionGraves site allows you to rotate them for viewing, but the rotation won't stay. This means everyone who views the photo will need to rotate it or I need to save it to my computer, edit it, and then upload it again to BillionGraves. Not something I want to do for a hundred or more photos. I'd rather spend the time transcribing them.
I don't know if I'll get photos for all 6000+ headstones taken and added to BillionGraves, but I hope the ones I do add will help someone find out more about their family history.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Photographs of the Unknowns

Sometimes you never know where something as simple as a photograph will lead you. Among old photographs given to me by my father is the one pictured above. There are no markings on the back, which is solidly tannish-brown in color. The photo itself is actually a thin piece of paper adhered to a thick sturdy gray frame. I have no idea who these people are; there is no one still living in my family who knows who they are. The only clue may lie in the provenance of the photos. They belonged to my father's only sister, his half-sister, who was twenty-two years older than he was.

During birthdays and holidays, my aunts and uncles and cousins would often gather together to celebrate. These celebrations would often wind down with a slide presentation of family photos and even some of the old photographs would make a showing. I suspect the photographs of the unkowns may have been from Aunt Edna's family because everytime I asked about who they were, she would quickly respond that they were "old family friends" and change the subject.  For some reason, no one in our family was supposed to know that my Aunt Edna was only our half-aunt; it was very hush-hush. Even later when I learned my grandmother had been a young widow and was remarried to my grandfather, it didn't make sense why it was never talked about. Even my father learned that his sister was his half-sister accidentally. He was about 8 years old and snooping through his parents' things looking for something when he found his sister's birth certificate hidden away. He had noticed there was a different last name—Outhouse, not Pastoor— but he didn't think much about it, and it was never discussed. It wasn't until I was about twelve or thirteen and became interested in learning about family history that the family "secret" was revealed, but only to me. I don't recall thinking it was much of a bombshell. Aunt Edna was my favorite relative and learning she was only "half" related didn't change anything.

Well, I guess almost anything. That revelation opened up a door to learning about her family history. I learned that there had been extensive research done on the Outhouse family, and that her family—and mine, since we shared a relative on her mother's side—could be traced back to The Netherlands, into the 1600s. But the real bombshell was learning that my grandmother, Edna (Baisley) Pastoor,  was not only my Aunt Edna's mother, but that they were also third cousins! Aunt Edna's 2nd great-grandparents were James Outhouse and Esther "Hetty" Tompins through her father, Lester Outhouse. But Aunt Edna was also related to them through her mother whose 2nd great-grandparents were also James Outhouse and Hetty Tompkins.

Learning this, it doesn't take much imagining to think that these old photographs may have something to do with the Outhouse family and were probably taken around Peekskill, Westchester county, New York. So I'm posting them here just in case some long-lost cousins recognize them. Please, if you know any of these people, contact me or post a comment below! I'd love to finally put a name to the faces and learn more about their lives. If nothing else, these photos have taught me the importance of sharing our photos and passing along our family stories to the next generation. Otherwise, how long before our faces become the faces of the unknown?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Using OneNote in the Genealogical Process

Awhile ago, I blogged about my notetaking choice between Evernote and OneNote. Both are popular notetaking programs for genealogy, but I finally chose OneNote. It fits my organization style better than Evernote. Here's how I'm using it after reading Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones.

I chose to create a notebook for each ancestral surname and one for collateral surnames, including the additional maiden names from my ancestral lines. I also added specialized notebooks for my study groups and a general notebook for webinar notes, location studies, or foreign language tips, or anything else that strikes my fancy.


This notebook template isn't my own creation; I found it on the Internet sometime ago, but I can't remember where. If someone recognizes this, please let me know so I can give proper credit to the creator!



When a notebook is opened, there are tabs arranged across the top, called sections. These are like the dividers in a physical binder. They can be named however one desires and any number of notebooks can be created. The tab on the end with the elipses (...) indicates that there are several more sections hidden; clicking the triangle opens a dropdown menu with the names of the hidden sections.




Down the right side are the pages in the highlighted section. Pictured to the right are the pages in my research plan section. Each ancestor has a main page, on which I keep a research checklist, with several subpages beneath, each containing a research plan for a particular event in that ancestor's life. Any number of pages or subpages can be created can be created. Since Albert Herman has two marriages, a sub-subpage can be created for the former marriage, if desired.

Although I'd love to take credit for this research plan, this template is a modification of one that I found on the Internet some time ago. Again, I cannot remember where I found it or who to credit.

The research plan starts with a research question and then a list of all the facts--where it came from and who the informant was. A working hypothesis is crafted and a list of potential sources is created. From this source list, a research strategy is developed listing the order in which to search them. This order is likely to change as information is discovered and new sources are found.






Next is the research log in which the sources searched are recorded as they are used. If there are positive results to the search, any items scanned, copied or saved are recorded and then given a document name, which is also recorded here. If there is nothing found, this is also recorded since it might be used as negative evidence at some point.

This is also the time to record the citation while the source is still handy so there are no missing pieces to search for later.

Once all the citations are completed, a preliminary analysis of the source is done, recording the type of source and its provenance. This is information that can be cut and pasted to be used in other programs.


Each piece of information is briefly noted and analyzed, the informant recorded, and the evidence is labeled as direct, indirect or negative.

After the preliminary analysis is completed, any potential conflicts are recorded with ideas on how they might be resolved. This is where to note ideas about correlating the evidence and the best way to present it. Finally, a conclusion is drafted...


...and the cycle begins again as more questions emerge.


So far, I'm really liking this research plan template. It's been a great place to capture my thoughts and record my research all in one place. One thing I do want to point out is that this is only one section of my whole research notebook. When I add digital images of my records, which I can then hyperlink to webpages, notes in other sections, or to other computer files, I will never lose a piece of information again. But that's best left for a blog post for another time.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day 1914-2014

The first Mother's Day was celebrated in 1908 when Ann Jarvis organized the celebration to honor her mother's death and the "sacrifices mothers made for their children." It didn't become an official U.S. holiday until 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson officially signed a proclamation declaring "the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day 'as a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country.'"
In honor of Mother's Day, I decided to search my family tree for all the women who might have been alive to celebrate that first official Mother's Day. There were 10 mothers between the ages of 18 and 80 in my family tree who were alive in 1914, four of whom were grandmothers as well.
Only four of those 10 mothers were in my ancestral line, and only one of them was a grandmother. My great-great-grandmother, Emily (Outhouse) Lamb, would have been a 74-year-old widow. She had four children who survived to adulthood to give her 13 grandchildren. She likely would have celebrated Mother's Day with her only daughter, my great-grandmother, Nettie (Lamb) Baisley, who gave birth to 7 of those grandchildren and would have been pregnant with her eighth child at age 41.
My great-grandmother, Anna (Kolb) Passtoor, was a German immigrant and would have been a widow at 41-years old. It was probably a bittersweet holiday for her since only two of her four children survived childhood. It would have been the only Mother's Day she would have celebrated; Anna died seven months later.
My great-grandmother, Stanislawa (Makowska) Chrzanowski, a Polish immigrant, would have been 26 years old and six months pregnant with her third child on that first Mother's Day.
So, on this 100th anniversary of Mother's Day, I honor those women of my past for the sacrifices they made for their children.

_________________ staff. "Mother's Day," online article,, ( : 10 May 2014), First Mother's Day.
President Woodrow Wilson's Mother's Day Proclamation of May 9, 1914 (Presidential Proclamation 1268)., 9 May 1914; General Records of the United States Goverment, 1778-1992, Record Group 11; [Online version,, National Archives and Records Administration, 10 May 2014.]
ArLynn Leiber Presser, "The Pre-forgotten Mother's Day," Arlynnpresser, 16 Apr 2012 ( : accessed 10 May 2014).
Christopher Fox Graham, "May 11 Marks the 100th Anniversay of Mother's Day,", 7 May 2014 ( : accessed 10 May 2014).

Friday, May 9, 2014

A "Calculating" Post

How many times have you calculated a date of birth from a census record? If you’re like me, you’ve done it countless times. But have you ever considered how you do it and the importance of recording that in your research notes? A recent article in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly[1]
has shown me that my usual method is probably not “best practice.” Instead of simply subtracting the given age in a census from the census date and entering it into my database preceded by “calc,” I am now more likely to enter a date range and make a research note on how I calculated it.

The article describes four methods of date calculation and the reasoning behind them. I won’t go into the details of those methods here—you can read the article yourself—but it did get me thinking about dates and how they are calculated. Which method was used to calculate the dates?  Was the age simply subtracted from the year of the census? Or was the age subtracted from the official census date? Maybe it was subtracted from the enumeration date? If we clearly specify how we calculate our event dates, our research is deemed more credible and others can follow our reasoning process. We also advance our own research by narrowing or expanding the time frames in which we search for records.

After reading this article, I decided to try one of the methods to calculate a birth date from a death date and age at death in order to find a birth record. No surprise; but it helped me find a record I may have otherwise overlooked.

My grandfather’s little brother, Harry, died on 7 Sep 1901 when he was just 8 months old. It’s unlikely that he died at exactly 8 months; the number of days was probably just not recorded. Originally, I had counted back eight months and guessed he was born “abt Jan 1901.” The calculator feature in Legacy produced an exact date of 7 Jan 1901. Obviously, those unspecified number of days were not accounted for by either of the methods I chose.

A search for Harry’s birth record produced a possible record dated in December 1900, but not the January 1901 date I was looking for. What follows is the detailed method of date calculation I used in order to expand the time frame of the date of birth for Harry using a reference date (his date of death) and an interval (his age at death).

First I started with the reference date written from largest to smallest units using Arabic numerals—1901-9-7. The year is 1901; September is the ninth month; Harry died on the seventh day. This date will be used to start my calculations for both the bottom date range and the top date range.

            Bottom Range                         Top Range                   Steps
1.         1901-9-7                                  1901-9-7                      reference date

I then entered my interval of 8 months; but first I needed to put it into the proper format. Using the letter x as the unknown, Harry’s interval of 8 months became 0 years, 8 months, x days, or 0-8-x. That interval is entered into the “Top Range” column.

Bottom Range                         Top Range
1.         1901-9-7                                  1901-9-7                      reference date
2.                                                              0-8-x                       interval

Then, one (1) is added to the interval to the number that is the farthest right, and placed in the column labeled “Bottom Range.” Since the number in the farthest right is 8, add 1 to get 9. This is the adjusted interval for the bottom range.

Bottom Range                         Top Range
1.         1901-9-7                                  1901-9-7                      reference date
2.                                                              0-8-x                       interval
3.               0-9-x                                                                      adjusted interval

Sometimes there is a need to “borrow” in order to complete the math calculation. This happens when the interval number is equal or greater than the number of months (or days) in the reference date. Notice that this is the case in the bottom range column. So borrowing one year from 1901 gives me 1900; adding the borrowed year as 12 months to the number of the month (9 for September) gives me 21 months. This becomes the adjusted reference date for both columns.

Bottom Range                         Top Range
1a.       1901-9-7                                  1901-9-7                      reference date
1b.       1900-21-7                                1900-21-7                    adjusted reference date
2.                                                                 0-8-x                    interval
3.                 0-9-x                                                                    adjusted interval

Next, subtract the interval and the adjusted interval from the adjusted reference date. For the bottom range: 9 months from 21 months gives me 12 months; for the top range: 8 months from 21 months gives me 13 months.

Bottom Range                         Top Range
1a.       1901-9-7                                  1901-9-7                      reference date
1b.       1900-21-7                                1900-21-7                    adjusted reference date for bottom range
2.                                                                 0-8-x                    interval
3.                 0-9-x                                                                    adjusted interval
4.         1900-12-7                                1900-13-7                    subtract

Now, add 1 day to the bottom range so the 7 days becomes 8 days.

Bottom Range                         Top Range       
1a.       1901-9-7                                  1901-9-7                      reference date
1b.       1900-21-7                                1900-21-7                    adjusted reference date for bottom range
2.                                                              0-8-x                       interval
3.               0-9-x                                                                      adjusted interval
4.         1900-12-7                                1900-13-7                    subtract
5.         1900-12-8                                1900-13-7                    add 1 day to bottom range

Finally, write out the newly calculated dates. Normalize the date in the top range (we don’t have a 13th month), by giving back the 12 months to 1900, making it 1901-1-7.

Bottom Range                         Top Range       
1a.       1901-9-7                                  1901-9-7                      reference date
1b.       1900-21-7                                1900-21-7                    adjusted reference date for bottom range
2.                                                              0-8-x                       interval
3.               0-9-x                                                                      adjusted interval
4.         1900-12-7                                1900-13-7                    subtract
5.         1900-12-8                                1900-13-7                    add 1 day to bottom range
6.         8 Dec 1900                              7 Jan 1901                  write out dates and normalize

The newly calculated date range for Harry’s birth is now between 8 Dec 1900 and 7 Jan 1901. This has expanded on my estimated date of “abt Jan 1901” and Legacy’s calculated date of 7 Jan 1901. When I compare this date range to the birth index record search, the December 1900 birth date looks more promising. This method, with some slight adjustments, can also be used to calculate later event dates and ranges, such as using a tombstone inscription to calculate a death date from the date of birth and age of death in years, months and days.

Ms. Levergood suggests that we account for all possibilities by borrowing 31 days, calculating the results, and then subtract 3 days to create the bottom end of the date range. The 3 days account for the months with varying numbers of days, including leap year. One important point to remember is that these methods of calculation assume that all dates and intervals are based on the Gregorian calendar with the year beginning on January 1.

These methods of calculation will help me to more accurately search for records documenting the lives of my ancestors. Of course, I will remember to record the method used in my research notes. Who knows what new clues I may find?

[1] Barbara Levergood, “Calculating Dates and Using Dates and Date Ranges,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 102 (March 2014):51-75

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ragu Challenge: 3-2-1 Cite

Dear Myrtle ( issued a challenge designed to encourage genealogists to realize that "we are bigger than our genealogy programs." Instead of habitually plugging data into our programs, the challenge encourages us to use put the concepts we've been learning in Mastering Genealogical Proofs into practice. She calls it the Ragu Challenge: 3-2-1 Cite. Use 3 documents, write 2 paragraphs (at minimum), and tell about 1 event, citing our sources. Ragu because "it's in there." What follows is my attempt at this challenge.
I never met my grandfather, who died when my father was a child. Family lore says he was an orphan born in Brooklyn who lied about his age to join the Navy, and had an older sister, Helen Carman, who lived in California, now deceased. My research challenges some of those assumptions, but supports the basic facts and answers the research question, When and where was the birth of Albert H. Pastoor, who was living in Peekskill, New York, in 1940? Who were his parents?
Although more documents and paragraphs will be required to fully answer my research question, to meet this challenge, I've decided to use the following three documents:
1. The U.S. Navy personnel records for Albert Herman Pastoor;
Compiled service record, Albert H. Pastoor personnel file, service no. 1521327, (discharged 1921); Official Military Personnel Files, World War I; Enlisted Personnel, 1885 - 1951, United States Navy; National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis; photocopies supplied by Center without citation. Above photo, from the service record, is the affidavit of Mrs. Helen Pastoor Carman, sister to Albert Herman Pastoor.

2. The marriage certificate of Albert Pastoor and Margaret Westerman;
New York Borough of Brooklyn, New York City Department of Health, marriage certificate 15863 (1920), Pastoor-Westerman; Municipal Archives, New York City.
3. The birth certificate of Andrew Pastor;
Borough of Brooklyn, New York, birth certificate no. 1312 (1898), Andrew Pastor [Albert Pastoor]; Municipal Archives, New York City.
All three documents are original records. The Navy personnel records contain Albert's original enlistment papers of 7 Jun 1915. His sister, Mrs. Helen Pastoor Carman, signed an affadavit stating she was his sister and guardian and that Albert H. Pastoor was born 30 Jan 1898 in Brooklyn, New York. Elsewhere in the document, the names of his parents were listed as unknown. Although the information here is primary, meaning it is eyewitness information, I use it guardedly; Helen was older and likely present at her brother's birth, but she would have been very young and her information would therefore be questionable. However, the fact that it is a notarized affidavit, sworn to before the United States Navy officer performing the oath, gives it a bit more weight. This document provides direct evidence of the birth of Albert Pastoor.
The second document, the marriage license and certificate, is dated 17 Nov 1920. Albert H. Pastoor and Margaret Westerman were married in Borough Hall in Brooklyn by the deputy city clerk. Although the clerk officiated the ceremony, Albert is likely the informant, making the marriage information primary; but his birth information is secondary since he couldn't have been an eyewitness at his own birth. However, the information agrees with that on the Navy records. This document also names his parents as Albert [the surname Pastoor is implied] and Anna Kolb. His sister, Mrs. Helen Carman, is a witness to the marriage. This document provides direct evidence of the birth of Albert Pastoor.
The third document, the birth record, at first glance appears to be unrelated because of the different given name of Andrew instead of Albert. However, Andrew "Pastor" is the third child born to Anna Kolb on 30 Jan 1898 in Brooklyn, NY. Albert "Pastor" is named as the father. The date and location of birth, as well as the names and ages of the parents agrees with that given on the marriage license. The physician who attended the birth signed the certificate as the informant, presumably with information given to him by the mother and/or the father, making it eyewitness information or primary information about the birth.
There is an obvious conflict with the given name of this child. Further research (beyond the scope of this challenge) has revealed that the parents, Albert "Passtoor" and Anna Kolb, had a daughter who was born and died in childhood. She was born before Helen, which is in agreement for Albert (aka Andrew) as the third child named on the birth certificate. The 1900 census information (see below) for the Albert Pastor household, living at the same address as that of the 1898 birth record, is also in agreement concerning the name and date of birth of Albert (son), the names of his parents, and the number of childen born to the mother. No other candidate for Andrew Pastor has been found. This birth record provides direct evidence of the birth of Albert Pastoor, aka Andrew Pastor. (The conflict in the 1900 census of the given name for Helen as Engalena has been resolved and is for another challenge.)
1900 U.S. census, Kings, New York, population schedule, New York City, Borough of Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 166, sheet 15A, p. 190 (recto), dwelling 89, family 289, Albert Pastor household; digital images, ( accessed 6 Nov 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 1,050.
All documents are in agreement with the birth date and location of Albert Pastoor. Although his enlistment papers state that the parents are unknown, the other two documents naming the parents are in agreement. It may be that in the enlistment papers, Albert and Helen omitted the names of their parents for personal reasons. Reseach has revealed that their mother had died six months before Albert joined the Navy, and their father had died four years earlier in an institution, under what would be considered shameful circumstances at the time. They likely did not want to reveal such personal information so soon. Since they obviously knew the names of their parents (as shown on the 1920 marriage certificate), it calls into question the reliability of the Navy affadavit despite the agreement of its information.
The conflict regarding Albert's given name is more of a mystery. It is possible that the name was recorded incorrectly on the birth record because of a misunderstanding (German was their native language) or it is just as likely that they decided to call him after his father and neglected to change the name on the birth record. I think the fact that my grandfather used the same given name as the father named on the birth record and marriage record lends credibility to the idea that he was named after his father.