The Unexpected Biblical Inspiration

Wow…Two years.  It’s been almost two years since I last wrote a genealogy blog post!  I wish I had some earth-shattering reason for it, but I guess that life just got in the way.  Things got busy around home, other project took priority, and has happened so many times over the years that I’ve been tracing my family history – my research got shelved and all but forgotten.  

Amazingly, as it has happened almost every time in the past, some random event has once again lit that fire deep down inside of me that fuels my passion for tracing my family roots.  This time, the inspiration came very unexpectedly and almost not at all.
One of my relatives has moved into a much smaller home and as a result, the old house and many possessions needed to be taken care of.  To make a long story short, many items from the house ended up in an online auction.  My siblings and I all decided that there were certain things we would probably bid on because we had memories of them, or we had at least a strong idea of where they may have come from.  One item that I almost missed was an old bible.  Actually, I have to admit that I DID miss it the first time through – it was my wife who brought the item to my attention.
Since the pictures of the bible on the auction website showed that the bible had been given to my great great grandmother by her husband, I decided that I would try to buy it to keep it in the family.  I set my limit, and away we went.  Over the course of the 5 day on-line auction, I was outbid several times.  I almost gave up because the price was getting pretty close to what I thought I should reasonably spend.  After all, if it really had any importance, it wouldn’t have made it into the auction, right?  So I set one more upper limit and let it ride.  As luck would have it, the person I had been bidding against apparently had a lower upper limit than I did, and I ended up winning the auction.
And thank God I did!!!!
Okay, before I go further, it’s confession time – when I was bidding, I have to admit that I never actually LOOKED at the dimensions of the bible.  If I had, I wouldn’t have been so surprised when this box arrived on my doorstep.
My first thought was “Wow, that’s an awfully big box to ship a bible in.”  Then, I opened the box and quickly realized that I had nearly passed up a genuine family heirloom and family history treasure!
That’s no “small” bible!

Look at the SIZE of that book!

These are pictures of the bible sitting next to a regular sized bible.  As you can see, the gigantic box was absolutely necessary because this is no “regular” bible!  Even with the size, I never expected to find what I have inside – there are clippings from family events, a school certificate for one of my great great aunts, and in the back…oh wow!  There are three pages with old tintype photographs in them!  
One of the pages of tintype photos
Unfortunately, at this point I have no idea who the people in most of the photographs are, so I’ll have to do some research there.
Needless to say, this bible has re-ignited that genealogy fire deep inside me, so it’s time to dust off the records, fire up the computer and start digging up some roots once again!

Dusting off the Blog

Wow…the last few months of 2013 pretty much blew past me!  I looked back today at my blog and realized that from September through the end of the year, I wrote a whopping two posts!  Getting married in November followed immediately by the holidays and some family medical challenges didn’t really help my writing production much, but admittedly, I think I was burning out a little bit on genealogy and on blogging.

The time off has definitely helped though, because that familiar desire to dig into the past has flared up again as well as a desire to write it all down here.  So….time to dust off my blog and get back to telling the stories of my ancestors.

I am going to pick back up on the Family History Through the Alphabet series, and I’ll be throwing in stories from time to time about the genealogy class I am teaching this spring at our local state college.

Comments fixed

I know it’s been over a month since my last post, and I promise that there are more posts coming!  One thing I wanted to mention before I put up any more posts is that I discovered an issue with comments on my blog – apparently when I enabled Google+ comments on my board, it made it so that people without Google+ accounts couldn’t post comments!  My apologies to anyone who has tried to post a comment and was unable to.

Needless to say, this little discovery has made me decide to re-visit the idea of moving my blog to a different host.  I’ll let you know if and when I move on that thought.

Evolution of an Amateur Genealogist Part II

A couple of months ago, when I was first starting this blog, I wrote a post about how I was changing my focus for a while and actually setting aside any “new” research on my family history to focus on properly documenting and citing the facts that I had already found.  I have to tell you that the change in focus has been not only incredibly rewarding but also a huge challenge.

As I’ve gone through the stacks of sources and information that I already had trying to make sure things are accurately recorded, analyzed and cited, I have found information that I missed early on which has opened up whole new avenues to research.  While it’s been exciting to find the information that I missed the first time I looked at a particular source, finding those nuggets has occasionally made it very challenging for me to maintain this new focus and not run off to do new research.  Can you imagine finding a piece of information that will very obviously help you get past a road block that you’ve had on one particular line and setting that information aside to research later?  (I actually failed to maintain focus on that one because it lead me to the ISTG website that I wrote about last week.)  For the most part, I have been able to maintain my focus and keep documenting and citing the facts that I already have, but these new nuggets have me just itching to start doing new research again.

The unexpected side of this new focus is that I have started to educate myself a great deal more on the “technical” side of genealogy – citations, documentation, methodologies, etc.  As an amateur family historian, I will confess that I never really thought that the technical side would be that important to me, but as I have gotten deeper and deeper into the process, I have found that there is a lot I need to learn.  I’m currently reading through Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills and I am thoroughly enjoying it because it is opening my eyes to so much that I didn’t really know before.  (I admit that I do get some odd looks from others when I explain that it is sort of like reading through the Chicago Manual of Style for genealogy but with WAY more information and a much better read.)  My next book is Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones, and I am probably going to end up reading that one simultaneous to this one simply because they go so well together.  I’ve also been doing a lot of blog reading, attending webinars and joining several Facebook and Google+ groups to help learn from others.

My point in all of this is that through changing my focus, I have found that I am moving much more toward a professional attitude toward my genealogy research.  I don’t know that I will ever publish my research (though it is a definite possibility) or even consider the idea of doing genealogy for others, but the process of educating myself and adding the “professional” discipline that I lacked early on in my research has been amazingly rewarding and I highly recommend that other amateurs like myself do the same.  You will be doing a favor for not only yourself, but to others in the present and future who may read your research.

Welcome!

Welcome to the blog!  I’ve decided to start a new blog to “journal” my genealogy journey.  Admittedly, this is not a new journey – I have been doing genealogy research for several years and have made tremendous progress in tracing several lines back even into the 1500s.  It is just recently, however, that I have gotten serious enough about my research to go back, and begin the process of fully documenting what I have collected so far.  This is the real challenge – to prove the family “legends” and suppositions that others have taken as “fact.”

The research I have been doing follows both my father’s family (the ancestors of Donald Washler and Mary Hablawetz) as well as my mother’s family (the ancestors of Earl Link and Hannah Hill).  Surnames include Washler, Hablawetz, Farver, Nicholls, Hill, Link, and Paessler.  Localities cover mostly Indiana and Ohio, but it appears I will be heading into Pennsylvania, and overseas to Germany and other countries in the near future.  My posts will range from family findings to research tactics and just posts about genealogy in general.

I hope you enjoy!  Please share your thoughts and comments at any turn.