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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Sep 232011
Mum and Fodder

Mum and Fodder

I took this picture years ago while traveling a back road near Houghton Lake, Michigan with my mother.  She spotted this couple and wanted their picture.  I had to stop the car, turn around and go back to get it.  It’s an appropriate marriage picture to substitute for ancestors who were married before the invention of photography.

If you don’t know what you’re looking at, they’re stacks of large circular hay bales from a farmer’s field.

Sep 212011
Pohl Homestead

Albert and Mary Pohl Homestead

This is a case of genealogical serendipity.  I set out to determine the precise location of the house where my maternal great-grandparents, Albert and Mary Pohl, lived.  In this picture taken about 1909, the Pohl family posed in front of their house.

From something unexpected, I uncovered a trail of bread crumbs that led me to their doorstep.

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Aug 152011

I recently discovered the town in Hungary where my grandmother was probably born prior to the family emigrating to America in 1893.  (See my earlier post, To Grandmother’s House We Go.)  That town was Szabolcs, now known as Mecsekszabolcs.  It is located just northeast of Pécs, Hungary.

Until now I’ve been able to get by researching my ancestors by reading records written in German, French and Latin.  Hungarian records will be something new to me.  First things first.  How do I even pronounce Szabolcs?

I found a great website, Forvo.com. It’s a place you can hear words pronounced in their native language. If a word isn’t there, you can make a request for it. Individuals from all over the world, like yourself, volunteer to pronounce words in their native tongue. I highly recommend it to genealogists.

As for Szabolcs?


Aug 152011
Adelheid (Pohl) Stewart

Adelheid "Ida" (Pohl) Stewart

I recently noticed FamilySearch.org added more Hungarian records.  I quickly found a new lead in the search for the birthplace of my grandmother, Adelheid “Ida” (Pohl) Stewart.  She immigrated to America in 1893 when she was but 2 years old along with her mother and two older siblings.  They departed from Hamburg, Germany, where the ship’s manifest listed them as living in Fünfkirchen, Hungary.

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Jul 092011

Those researching their ancestors in Pennsylvania know that county boundaries changed frequently in the years since 1682. To make these boundary changes easier to see, I animated them.

I used portions of the “Genealogical Map of the Counties” available at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. I simply snipped the individual images in their sequence of state maps that show county boundaries and made a short flash animation.

Unfortunately these maps do not show cities and towns, but if you know the county you are interested in, you can see when it was created and how it changed over the years.

View an animated history of Pennsylvania Counties.

May 082011

My mother had many words of wisdom.  When I was in the seventh grade, my religion teacher wrote a comment on my report card.  My mother’s response to her has remained with me all these years and I still think of it occasionally.

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