Mike Voisin

By way of background, I have over thirty years experience as a software engineer. I enjoy genealogy as a hobby, which I started in earnest in 1994. I've always liked family history. Now whenever I uncover some fascinating fact about an ancestor, I also take time to read about that era in history. Whether it be the Napoleonic Wars, the Erie Canal, Steamships, the Port of Hamburg, or hurricane tracks, there's always something new to learn. By 2000 I published my family tree on the Internet. Unfortunately there were no software tools then that did precisely what I wanted. So I created GED-GEN, a Windows program to automatically generate a genealogy website. It converts a GEDCOM data file to a series of web pages in family group sheet format. Since 2002, people from all over the world have used GED-GEN for their websites. Today I continue to research my family history, with the help of distant cousins. I am also actively creating digital images of my collection of genealogical evidence.

Oct 242013
 
New Rademacher Faces

One of the advantages of having your own family history website is cousin-bait.  That’s when a distant cousin searches the Internet for their ancestors and finds their family names at your website.  This often results in new information and leads for both parties.

I’m excited to say it’s happened again.  This time I’ve heard from cousin Heather J. on my paternal grandmother Rademacher’s side of the family.  Heather generously shared several old photographs she inherited from her grandmother, Evelyn Earl.

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Apr 242013
 

WPA Propery InventoryIn the late 1930′s the Works Progress Administration (WPA) conducted property inventories of rural Michigan. This project was in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Treasury. I was able to locate the homestead of my great-grandparents, Joseph and Mary Voisin, near Beal City, Michigan. It is interesting to learn about their home and farm.

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Apr 022013
 

My fourth great-grandparents, John and Margaret Stewart, were two of the first settlers in what would eventually become Buffington Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania. John Stewart married Margaret McFarland in 1788 and by 1796 they had a son, my third great-grandfather, James Stewart.

I describe here how I used records available at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC)1 and Google Earth to pinpoint the location of the original Stewart homestead.

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Footnotes
  1. Pennsylvania, “Copied Surveys, 1681-1912,” database and digital images, Pennsylvania State Archives, Land Records (http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/state_archives/2887 : downloaded 9 December 2009), RG-17, Series #17.114, Copied Survey Book C-206, Page 221 and reverse, John Stewart, http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/bah/dam/rg/di/r17-114CopiedSurveyBooks/Books%20C1-C234/Book%20C206/Book%20C-206%20pg%20441.pdf; Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Bureau of Archives and History. []
Mar 262013
 

google-earth-00In a past posting I described how I located the homestead of my great-grandparents Albert and Mary Pohl near Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania.  I’ve since found that Google Earth is another tool to further visualize the location.  It is helpful in modernizing old maps to better understand where my ancestors lived.

What I did is add an overlay of an old map to the modern world shown in Google Earth.  This allows you to see precisely where a road, building or property once stood in relation to what’s there now.

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May 182012
 

I found a scrap of paper on which my mother, Ruth (Stewart) Voisin, wrote a poem.  In December 1945, World War II had finally ended.  Ruth was only 18 years old.  She had just left home and moved to Philadelphia to enroll at the Franklin School of Science and Arts.  This was against her father’s wishes, who said college was no place for women.  Her mother had died two years prior.  With no financial help from her father, she began her way in the world.

She always loved poetry and transcribed many famous poems in her notebooks.  She also wrote her own poems.  In this one, I can envision her sitting in her room at the YWCA looking out her window to the street below:  A young woman on her own, and filled with a sense of peace and hopefulness about the future.

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Apr 242012
 
Ida (Pohl) Stewart

Ida (Pohl) Stewart, about 1909

The 1910 Federal Census lists the occupation of my grandmother Adelheid T. (Pohl) Stewart as a Taper at the Electric Works.  She was 19 then, just prior to her marriage with John Galbreath Stewart later that year.

I’ve been curious for some time.  What was a Taper?  No doubt the “Electric Works” was Westinghouse Electric Manufacturing Company in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  It was a short distance from Turtle Creek, where my grandmother lived.

Through the wonders of the Internet I happened upon a short video clip produced in 1904 that explains a lot.

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Mar 212012
 

The community of genealogists and family researchers is a friendly, helpful group of people.  For the most part.  Lately I’ve recognized some undertones of the business world that deserve a cautionary warning.

Remember that genealogy podcasters, bloggers and newletter authors want to earn some extra money, and sometimes it’s their living too.  However many times that means their opinions and reporting are biased in favor of their sponsors, or their professional relationships with others in the genealogy community.

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Jan 292012
 

Ruth Voisin

It was twenty years ago today that my mother died suddenly.  I often wish I could speak with her again.  But time is healing my loss and it’s fun to reminisce every now and then.

She collected old lithographs with a theme depicting a bluebird on a tree branch with a little girl gazing up, usually looking out a window.  They reminded her of one by Bessie Pease Gutmann that her mother had.  Of course this morning a couple bluebirds happened by my backyard.  Every time I see one now I chuckle and think to myself it’s mom saying hi.

Mom’s the one who got me interested in genealogy.  She often said that I come from “good stock” and spoke of how strict and clean my German ancestors were.  Even though my grandmother’s pantry had a dirt floor, it was always swept and “clean.”

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Oct 252011
 

FamilySearchOver the years I spent countless hours (and dollars!) at my local Family History Centers. These are the “satellite” libraries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), where you can rent and view microfilmed genealogy records from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Alas, these centers will soon be no more! It is very apparent, at least in my area, they will soon close and no longer be available to genealogical researchers.

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