Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful Thursday: 2013 List

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in America!

Here is a list of some of the genealogy-related things I'm especially thankful for this year.
  • OCR technology that allows me to search newspapers instantly
  • BYU's online German script tutorial that has helped me remember that German script does have patterns that are generally predictable
  • Online forums that allow me to connect with people
  • Relatives who are willing and able to take DNA tests
  • The technology that allows those DNA tests to help us trace those elusive branches of my family tree
  • Microfilm
  • NGSQ magazine
  • The Genealogical Proof Standard
  • Digitization projects
  • Familysearch Family Tree
  • Allen Peterson, CG - thank you for encouraging me!
And most of all, my Czech ancestors. Thank you for your resilience, your fidelity, your love of music, and your love of God and family. These traits are part of my heritage, my family history, and my own personal story. 

Here's to another year of technological advances, temple work, and transcriptions of parish records!

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Johanna Vasicek Naiser

Photo from Elaine Naiser Hicks

Back row, standing from left to right:  Richard J.(a great uncle), Johann Naiser (my great-grandfather), Edward (my grandfather) and John, J. a great uncle
Front row, seated from left to right:   Elizabeth Naiser Vacek (born in Texas) and Johanna Vasicek Naiser.
Probably taken about 1890 or so in Texas.  Elizabeth was born in 1885 in Texas; the three sons were born in Moravia.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Czech Out Your Ancestors Facebook Page goes live

Thanks to the urging of a friend and fellow genealogist Rebecca Christensen over at Kansas Ancestors, I finally drummed up enough motivation to finish a facebook page for my business. Woohoo!

Here is the link:

I think it will mainly be a place for me to share blog updates, interesting status updates about my research, and other such things. Anyway, something to czech out!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Two Options: Find them, or have them find you

Whether your goal is to connect with living descendants of a common ancestor, or simply to continue to trace your heritage back further generations in time, you have two basic options. Find the people yourself, or have the people (or their relatives) find you.

The first option, finding the people yourself, is the most traditional. You search for records. You hire somebody who is on the ground in your locality of interest to get the records you need. You look at the records, transcribe them, translate them, compare them with other records, correlate the information found within. You cite with diligence every record you find so that others (including your future self!) can retrace your research. You write what you have discovered - you compile the information into an understandable format. These principles are the basics of the Genealogical Proof Standard.

The second option, having others find you, has only been available recently with advances in both internet and DNA sequencing technologies. The basic idea is you first find some information about your ancestor. Then, you publish it where others will find it, which is probably online. If you really want to facilitate speedy connections, you will join some sort of cloud-based family tree program. 

For example, Familysearch Family Tree is basically a cloud-based family tree of the whole world. I have met dozens and dozens of people who are researching the same people. We are able to combine forces and research more efficiently and effectively. 

Sometimes the person who you find has access to records that would otherwise have been extremely difficult for you to get. Sometimes they already have the information you needed. Often times, you both can share information. You both profit from collaborating. Accuracy of conclusions improves.

This kind of collaboration gives you a better sense of how connected we are in the human family. It is crazy to think that somebody thousands and thousands of miles away from me, who speaks mainly Czech, is from the same family; We have the same great great great great great grandparents. I love this feeling of connectedness. It is one of the reasons why genealogy is so addicting! Solving the puzzle and making connections, especially to living people, is extremely satisfying. It helps affirm something about my own identity.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Zinger by Orson Hyde

This is not related to Czech genealogy in any way whatsoever, but it's interesting! 

I am doing some interesting research on my Mormon ancestors who lived in Iowa. One of them operated the south of the Platte river ferry route for at least 6 months in approximately 1849-1850. I have been looking for clues about him in the local newspaper for Kanesville (later renamed to Council Bluffs), the "Frontier Guardian and Iowa Statesman." At the time, Orson Hyde was the editor. This was 1849-1851ish.

I found that most of the newspaper was written for a Mormon audience. There were many letters from church leaders like Brigham Young, as well as missionary letters from those abroad in places like England. It was really interesting to read. 

The ads were hilarious. Of course mid-19th century drug ads are also sort of cringe-worthy. They cause me to wonder about the lunacy of our doctors the people of the future will think when they see drug ads in our writings.

Most of the ads, though, were for emigrants. Wagon wheels! Teamsters! Oxen! We have supplies! We will outfit you for your journey west! The Gold Rush isn't over yet, you can still profit from it! Go west! Go west! Go west!

The funniest thing I found was definitely this short letter to the editor, and Orson Hyde's snappy comeback. Orson Hyde was certainly a character, that is for sure. 

Here's a transcription:
If Mr. Thomas C. Sharp is so bad a man as you rep-
resent him to be in your last Guardian, why do you
not cast the devil out of him and make him a good
man, as your creed invests you with miraculous
power to do it?
ANSWER - It would be a great pity to exercise
such power upon Mr. Sharp as to cast the Devil out
of him; for there would be nothing left but his
shirt and nose."

This definitely made me laugh out loud.