I remember being a young girl and sitting at the kitchen table with my great-grandfather. It must have been a Sunday because he was wearing his suit and the smell of meatballs filled the air of my grandmother’s kitchen. I remember asking him question after question about life in Italy, about our family members who were still there, what it was like coming to America and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time, why we always got together on Sundays and ate macaroni, and on and on. Thankfully, he was a patient man. He thoughtfully answered every question in his broken-English, and my love for heritage began.This story typifies one of the easiest ways to build generational bridges: relating to each other through our shared heritage. A simple conversation with your child or grandchild will start forging that bridge and can create a link to the past, present, and future. Grandparents and, if we’re lucky, great-grandparents, are some of a child’s first teachers, and one of …Read more
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It does not take long delving into the world of genealogy to see that death and high mortality rates were more intimate and frequently encountered facts of life for our ancestors than for us in modern times. Lacking much of the knowledge and technological advancements of later eras rendered even everyday life more dangerous, and learning about disease and its impact on history can provide great insight into our ancestors – their habits, fears, superstitions, diets, religious beliefs, and more.Most of the time, communicable disease was caught and spread as a result of poor hygiene, unclean environments, and even unsafe food practices. Regular bathing didn’t really take hold as a common practice in the Western world until the mid- to late-1800s. Even then, “regular” often meant only once a week, particularly since running water (and hot water) in every home was still decades away. Soap manufacturing for sale in stores happened around the late 19th century. Prior to that era it was …Read more
Irish research can be difficult. Although the island is small--about the same size as the state of Indiana--its violent history and many divisions makes research complicated. In addition, many United States records simply report that our ancestors were from Ireland with no indication of the county of their birth. However, knowing a little bit about the history and geography can provide the necessary clues. Here are four tips that can help you trace your Irish ancestors from the United States back to Ireland.1. Understanding the Island of Ireland TodayThere are two distinct political entities on the island of Ireland: Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The dividing line was drawn by England in 1922. This is an important date to keep in mind when searching for more recent Irish ancestors.The Republic of Ireland, or Eire, is an independent nation made up of the southern 26 counties of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is predominantly Catholic, with about 3% of the …Read more
All of the images included in this article are used with the permission of their owner, Zane Healy. A bemused friend recently contacted me about a posting on a memorial page website. According to the memorial, the gentleman in question was born in 1752, served in the American Revolutionary War, and died in 1845. Attached to the memorial were three photographs: the ancestor's tombstone, the cemetery in which he was buried, and a photograph of the deceased. In the photograph the gentleman looks to be about 25 or 30 years old and is standing outside, dressed very handsomely in trousers, vest, frock coat, tie, and hat.A bit more research found the same photograph on more than a dozen different online family trees at various websites. Even a Google search of the man’s name includes this photo in the results. So what’s the big deal? Why did my friend contact me about the photograph? This is simply one of those good-fortune situations where the family had and maintained a photograph of …Read more