Father and Son, John & Jonas Marsh – Week 5, Plowing Through

This week’s prompt: We will likely be plowing through a lot of snow by this time. What ancestor had a lot of struggles to plow through? Or take it more literally… It’s up to you :)

A typical Michigan winter scene

The ancestor I chose that had a lot of struggles to plow through would be the father/son duo, John O. and Jonas J. Marsh.

John was born in 1790 in Pennsylvania. The country was newly independent and Pennsylvania was a popular place to settle down. There he had *4 boys and 1 girl.

He and his wife Margaret Gillman (1790-??) had their son Jonas when they were 21 years old.

At the age of 19, Jonas married Philinda Quick (1811-1895) in New York in 1830. He and Philinda had 3 children in New York and then around 1837 or so, Jonas followed his little brother, Harmon Marsh, to Scio, Washtenaw County, Michigan.

Although the research is unsourced, it appears the Marsh father, John, died sometime around 1830. My junk genealogy shows he was in Michigan but other information says that the Marsh family didn’t come to Michigan until 1836 at the earliest. And the death information I have for John says he died the same day his son, Jonas, was married. I suspect the information is wrong.

So, what makes these boys worthy of such a post highlighting tough ancestors? Well, first of all, John was in the Civil War. 140th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry.

And both Jonas and his little brother Harmon helped create a new community in the brand new territory of Michigan. Have you been to Michigan in the winter? That place can be tough!

Map of Scio, Michigan, 1874 (Marsh farmland is listed)


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52 Ancestors Challenge – Week 4, Closest to your birthday

This week’s prompt: Not too much to think about here. What ancestor has the birthday closest to yours? (I mean in terms of month and day, not the year ;) )

Henry Teats

Henry Teats is the ancestor who’s birthday is closest to mine. There are other relative’s that share my birthday – my great uncle Mike (my closest DNA match at AncestryDNA) and of course my cousin Kyle. However, since we’re focusing on ancestor’s, I found that Henry Teats was born just a day before my birthday.

Henry Teats was born January 4th, 1797 in Rhinebeck, New York. His father died when he was just 12 years old and he married Elizabeth Shook at age 24 (June 6, 1821). Together they had at least 9 children and he died at the ripe old age of 83 in Dickinson, Kansas. (unsourced).


Henry Teats and Elizabeth Shook Family

Henry Teats and Elizabeth Shook Family

I wonder how he came to die in Kansas? I checked out my google map module on my webtrees site and it looks like many of his children were moving to the midwest. And because his death is unsourced he may not have died in Kansas at all! More research on my to do list!



Henry’s mapped life (so far)

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52 Ancestors Challenge – Week 3, Tough Woman

This week’s prompt: Who is a tough, strong woman in your family tree? Or what woman has been tough to research?

Martha Brunken Loose

If that face doesn’t say tough…

The tough female ancestor I’m going to focus on will be Martha A Brunken.

It tends to be hot in July in Terre Haute, Indiana and that was likely the case the day Martha was born in 1855. Her German-born parents must’ve been so hopeful about having their child in America, and perhaps a bit anxious as well since by the time she was just 6 years old, the civil war broke out.

She lived in Indiana throughout her life and married William Carl Loose, who’s parents were also German-born and immigrated through Galveston, Texas.

William C Loose and Martha Brunken



Together they had at least 7 children. When she was 69 years old her husband died. She lived another 12 years and died in 1937.

Findagrave picture

Findagrave picture


Their 7 children (may have more)

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52 Ancestors Challenge – Week 2, King

This week’s prompt is: January 8 is Elvis’ birthday. January 15 is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Do either of these “Kings” remind you of an ancestor? Or, taken another way, do you have a connection to royalty? Did your ancestor flee from an oppressive king?

Although one of my goals was to remove anybody on my tree from my old “junk genealogy” habits, unfortunately I have yet to do that. Therefore, I have unsourced royalty from 2 separate family lines.

King Edward the First, aka, Longshanks

I know, I know. Everybody is related to a King and especially Edward I “Longshanks”. According to my very much unsourced webtrees database, King Edward is my 23x Great Grandfather! In addition, he was tall and had a lazy eye, both characteristics we share. This is not a direct paternal line. To see the details click here.

Robert the Bruce

Again, through my mother’s side, a more “junk genealogy”, I’ve connected back to the King of Scots, Robert the Bruce. Again, mostly unsourced and simply serves to boost the family ego. One day, perhaps when I retire, I’ll work to validate these connections. But it’s time to get away from the “I’m related to royalty” story in family history, after all, according to National Geographic and a bit of math, we’re all related to royalty.


We’re all in this together!

Although there’s much more work to do around these connections, I’m satisfied knowing that I get a little extra meaning from watching Braveheart!

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John F. Taylor, Civil War Ancestor – Week 1, A Fresh Start

Whenever the new year comes around I like to take stock from the past year and make goals for the future. My goal for 2015 is to simply keep up with the 52 Ancestor challenge.

The Fresh Start prompt was: What ancestor had a fresh start? What ancestor has been so confusing to research that you’d like to have a fresh start?

My Fresh Start ancestor is….John F. Taylor who happens to be on my list of “favorited” ancestors on my webtrees site.

My personalized “favorites” list from my webtrees site.

John F. Taylor came into this world in August of 1843 in Indiana, USA. (no source) 

Wow, just writing this out makes me want to ditch this post and RESEARCH!

Okay, so there’s a lot of missing information and unsourced information for Mr. Taylor (perhaps a reason I haven’t broken this wall down!) An additional reason I’m curious about him is because there’s that family rumor saying we’re related to president Zachary Taylor.

See the resemblance?

See the resemblance?


For John Taylor I couldn’t find anything prior to his marriage in 1878 when he was 34 years old. At this time he was in Iowa City, Iowa with his bride, Annastasis Gress. He then died in Missouri at the age of 79. (1843-1922).

So, now to the fresh start piece for John.

I revisited John’s findagrave profile recently to discover that someone had uploaded a document to his profile! My first reaction was shock – mostly because I created the profile on findagrave and assumed I would get notified if someone added an image. And secondly, the document was his discharge from the Union army. Who had this?

I emailed the image uploader and soon got a response. At first, I thought it was a confused name, there are a lot of John Taylor’s in the world. But as I continued to read, names that I recognized showed up. According to the image uploader, John Taylor had a family prior to the information I have! Here is the email I received.

Received your message re:John Taylor.  He is shown in the 1870 census to be residing in the home of John and Eliza Felker in Vinton, Benton County Iowa.  He and their daughter Katherine,age 19 married on 5 June 1870. They had one child, Mary Elizabeth, who was my grandmother.  Katherine died when my Grandmother was six or seven.   She suffered from asthma.

The story we always heard was that one day he did not come home from work and there were various theories as to what had happened to him.  She had his discharge from the Union Army in her possession. In the early 80’s my brother Sam and his wife were visiting and They showed the discharge to Becky(his wife) and she told them it could be sent to the Archives for preservation.  She took the discharge with her and sent it adding a request for his service records .  when she returned the discharge she also had a sheaf of papers showing his marriage to Anna Stacia Gress in Iowa City in 1778 and the 1880 Census showed them to be residing with her family in Lincoln, Pottawattami County Iowa.  They had a daughter Magdalena (who died at the age of 10) and I don’t remember if they had other children at that point. The records showed their westward movements and at several of the places of residence their were records of correspondence applying for disability assistance. These letters added to the family information and the final letter was after his death from his daughter Isabel inquiring about possible survivor benefits. My grandmother had a surviving half brother and sister that she never knew existed. She died before this information was received.

I had thought that he was born in Jefferson County , Ohio due to the info on the discharge but recently have begun to try to see if it could have been a city in Ohio. In the 1880 census , which you may have his father is shown to have been born in Ireland and his mother Germany. I have a note that he had lived in St. Joseph, Indiana and I believe he joined the Army from La Porte, Indiana.  I posted the discharge in the hope of gaining more info regarding his family.

It appears that John Taylor got a fresh start.

I will now get on with my fresh start and see if I can connect these two lives into one.

Categories: 52 Ancestors | 2 Comments

The Widows of 2nd Street

I found this story on the Arcadia Historical Society’s website and it included the first picture I’ve ever seen of my 4x great grandmother, Alzina Higbee Stockman. My guess is she’s around 84/85 in this photo, likely 1940…does the boy look to be around age 7?

Ray with "Grandma Stockman"

Alzina Higbee Stockman with Raymond Knudsen ca. 1940

To see the full article click here.

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Hunting.


Categories: 1940 Census, Stockman | 2 Comments

What’s written on the ‘back’ of your digital photos?

What is metadata?

Simply put, metadata is the writing on the back of the photograph. Usually this details who is in the photo, when and where it was taken. In the digital age, this information is kept in the file but not visible. You can right click and see the “properties” of a file – the description or title is one piece of metadata while the ‘tags’ or ‘keywords’ are another.

Why do I need this?

In the current technological age, a digital image or photograph could get ‘disconnected’ from any database or shared family tree. Essentially, we cannot guarantee that the person who finds the photo online is able to see any more information than the image itself. With family history images, this can be a problem. Who is the 3rd person from the left? I want to name all individuals, and include the place and time if possible. For that, we need metadata.

How do I do this?

Most image programs are able to save ‘metadata’. Be sure to search on google for your favorite image manipulation program that allows metadata. Personally, I use Picasa by google. Picasa uses the caption as the description in the metadata and “tags” in picasa are “keywords” in the “properties”

Betty Jean and Jeff_meta

This image is of me around 6-8 months old with my grandmother, Betty Jean (Polson/Wollenhaupt/Marsh/Curtis – but that’s another story).

This is your test – perhaps your photos already have metadata.

–Tell me the exact address where this photo was taken.

–Tell me who is in the photo.

–Tell me the approx. date the photo was taken.


This is a step-by-step guide that should work for most people.

1. Right click on the image and ‘save image’ – save to a place you’ll be able to find – the desktop is usually good

2. Find the image and “right click” – then scroll down and click on “properties”

CaptureIn Windows 7 you see this image.

So far we just see the file name and type.

Navigate to the “Details” tab.

You will then see “tags” with whatever tags you entered as keywords.











You will then see the “title” which in Picasa is the “caption” and you’ll see the ‘tags’.

From this information you would know all the answers to the questions I asked earlier.


Isn’t metadata grand?

Categories: Cheap, Research, Tech, webtrees | Leave a comment

webtrees Vytux suite of add-ons – replacing kiwitrees simpl add-ons

For webtrees users there’s often the question of whether to customize or not. Anybody that has used webtrees for longer than a year may side on NOT customizing simply because of the hassle of updating and making sure any add-on’s are compatible with new versions of webtrees.

Prior to the new 1.5 webtrees series we had kiwi and his suite of add-on’s called “simple add-on’s”. And they were indeed quite simple. I found quite a few of them very useful. Particularly the ‘simpl menu’ and ‘simpl gallery’ although there were many others.

Unfortunately Kiwi has split from the project and no longer updates his add-on’s to support webtrees 1.5 and up. They are still available if you have an older version of webtrees.

But do not fret, another volunteer programmer has stepped in to help us out. The vytux suite of add-on’s are basically what kiwi had done except that are compatible with the 1.5 and up versions of webtrees. His site is here. I’ve been a slacker and haven’t looked at my site for awhile but when I did I realized that there was no link to this blog! I have a link from the blog to my database but not the other way around – it was a one-way street. I simply downloaded the vytux menu2, uploaded to my server and checked the right boxes. It was that easy.

There are many other customizations, themes, etc. However, unless you’re computer savvy or quite experienced with webtrees I highly recommend starting out with the basics and just learning the multitude of what webtrees has to offer. Once you get comfortable with the basic layout, you can start to experiment with add-ons.

My current favorite add-on is the facebook login module. And although there are many discussions on reports and graphical outputs I’d like to see that improved. Afterall, if we’re going to have the best web-based family history software online then why not have it contain the best of everything? Customized color-coded pedigrees, fan charts etc.

What add-on’s have you used and enjoyed? What add-on’s would you like to see added to webtrees?

Happy Hunting!

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A webtrees add-on to login via Facebook

Yes, you read correctly. The webtrees open source program has a very dedicated group of developers constantly upgrading the code. I was a bit lazy and did not upgrade properly a few months ago. They now added a feature for automatic upgrades and when mine was automatically upgraded I had some issues (due to not following instructions months ago). Long story short, I reset my site and worked on it a bit.


When browsing the webtrees forums I noticed a login via facebook module. This was developed by

Matt N. a.k.a.  mnoorenberghe at Github. You can find the information on the facebook add-on here. I followed instructions, automatically pre-approved all family members I could think of connect as my facebook friends, and

within hours had 3 family members logged into my website.

Now, some of you may laugh at a measly 3 family members logged into my site. However, those of you who’ve seen the rolling eyes, the avoiding family members or a subtle change in topic when talking to family know how difficult it is to engage others in the family history. A barrier to that was the somewhat complicated and non-instantaneous login structure on webtrees. With the Login-via-Facebook module you’re simply already logged into facebook and connect via webtrees software. If the admin pre-approved you there’s no waiting, you’re set to browse and edit family history information to add to your legacy!

If you’re using webtrees simply follow the instructions in the above link. Be sure when you develop the app on facebook that you only have your URL domain – for example – my site is at www.thelucidcenter.com/webtrees. Thelucidcenter.com is intended for my private counseling practice. However, in the Facebook settings I had to put thelucidcenter.com as the URL. The very next step makes it specific with thelucidcenter.com/webtrees.

Once it was set up I realized some minor settings had to be changed, namely the default blocks on new user pages. I set it up how I like it although users can change it if they please.

Ultimately I thank Matt N. for his time and effort in this module as it makes family members more likely to login to the site without hassles of requesting a username/password, waiting for approval etc. Great work sir!

Categories: Cheap, Tech, webtrees | 2 Comments

Who will carry on your research?

I came across this while browsing pinterest. Ann McClean pinned it to her “I love genealogy” board.


What a great addition to the living will and  testament. With all the time and money spent on this hobby this little paper may make the difference for whether our research is preserved or not.
Do you have your research in your will?

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