A new Branch on my Family Tree

My silence for the past few weeks has not been purposeful.  After the birth of my newest grandchild, I spent some time caring for his big sister, and then nursing a sinus infection.  I’d like to say that I am over the sinus infection, but every time I say so, it flares back up again.  And on days when it does, I am not capable of thinking straight enough to catch up on my writing. This morning was another rough one, but I’m feeling better for now.

So about that new grandkid.  He’s a cutie!  Brody was nine pounds and six ounces, and we assumed he was completely healthy; but on the morning that he was scheduled to go home, the doctor came into my daughter-in-law’s room to tell her that Brody had been moved to NICU.Brody NICU swing

Brody spent a week hooked up to tubes and monitors fighting off an unknown infection. He’s home now, and doing fine.  He’s been to the doctor twice already just to make sure.

One thing that everyone said when they saw that big boy with piles of black hair is that he looks like a little Navajo boy.  I said it too.  Because he is.

Brody’s mom is half Italian and half Navajo.  His grandmother on his mother’s side was born on the reservation in Arizona. Brody won’t know his Navajo grandmother. She died about a year ago.  His grandmother was kind of like my grandmother.  She didn’t like to talk much about her life on the reservation (my grandmother didn’t talk about being Jewish), so Brody’s mom doesn’t know much about being Navajo (like my mom didn’t know about being a Jew).

With my daughter-in-law, we have a whole new limb grafted into our nearly 100% European tree. That new limb brings some authenticity to the transplanting of our tree in North American soil. But it also brings a different way of doing genealogy.

I lived for just one year in Page, Arizona, where I taught English to students from the Navajo Reservation.  I fell in love with the Navajo people and their ways of doing things.  Because of that year, I know a little more about the Navajo way than my daughter-in-law does.  We are both looking forward to learning more about the Navajo culture as we help Brody and his big sister grow.

So . . .  Ya’at’eeh. Welcome to the world, little Brody!

You Know You Want This

Geneabloggers is running a holiday contest! They have lots of cool genealogy stuff to be won. Check it out here:

Click on the photo to enter.

Along with the contest, Geneabloggers is offering a holiday boot camp–absolutely free (almost, just donate what you want).  All you have to do is sign up and show up online (in your PJs if you want), and learn some great new tips and tricks for improving your search for your family’s past. Sign up now, there are only 500 spots available. It’s a Super Saturday for genealogists!

Click on the picture to enter.

Even if you don’t win the contest, the Boot Camp will be like winning anyway.  And no, Geneabloggers did not pay me to say this, I just wanted to share. Besides, I get five more entries into the contest for every one person I get to enter!

a free gift for you

I’m having a rough time getting started on my novel.  I start writing, and then I realize that I need to double-check my characters.  I am writing an historical novel based on the life of Mary Davis Skeen, so there are real characters out there paralleling the characters in my novel.

I created a timeline of events in Mary’s life, and I thought I was ready. However, I keep going back to my online pedigree charts to find important people in her story. I realized I just needed a basic pedigree chart  to plug in family members so that I could have something to reference.

Doing genealogy online is quite similar, so I assumed that I would be able to find a basic pedigree chart online.  I wasn’t disappointed; there are hundreds of them.  The most basic ones are PDF files meant to be printed out.  The last thing I need is more paper on my desk.  The fancier ones, ones meant to be used on your desktop and saved electronically, are provided for a fee.  I didn’t want a fancy one, and I didn’t want to pay a fee to learn more software, so I created a template of my own.

I can use this very basic template to organize Mary’s family, save it as Mary’s pedigree, and then create a corresponding one for my fictional family.  I can also use it to focus on just one  family line from my own genealogy, and then save it to the corresponding family in my electronic genealogy file. Nice. No papers!

Free 4 generation template

Click on this photo for your free Word Doc. For a template, save as “Word Template.”

So . . .  here is your own copy of my 4 generation pedigree chart:

Use it. Save it for your very own. Reuse it.  Save it again. It’s free!

If you try it, please let me know if it works for you. 
*Note from me:   I had to take it out of template mode for Word Press, but you can save put it back into template mode when you save it. Just click on “save as” and then choose “Word template” in the “save as type” drop-down menu. I use MS Office 2010, but it should work the same in the previous or most current edition.


I’m Thankful for Geneabloggers

One thing I hate about Christmas–it tends to take over the whole month of November and December, and Thanksgiving tends to get thrown in as an afterthought.  I love Thanksgiving because it reminds me to stop and think of all of the many reasons I have to be grateful.

This month I am busy being grateful for my talent.  If you haven’t already noticed, I’m a writer. I have never written a full-length novel, and I am taking advantage of NaNoWriMo to get a good start on one. This means that I won’t be writing full posts in my blogs for a few weeks.

I have decided that this would be a great time to explore Geneabloggers and see what I can find that interests me.  And for a genealogist and writer, nothing is more interesting than a good book about real people.  Enter Literature and Genealogy by Jeannie M. Martin (http://www.literatureandgenealogy.com).

Check out Jeannie’s recent commentary on some great genealogical reads:

Click on the blog segment to get the full post.

Click on the blog segment to get the full post.

Death-It runs in the family

A curious thing about my ancestors–they’re all dead.  It’s the one thing they have in common. When they die, they get buried.  At least back in the day, that’s what they did.  Today, cremation is a definite possibility, and it’s getting more common.  Especially in Europe where they are running out of room for all of the bodies. But where did the bodies of our Euro-American ancestors go?  I have some guesses, and going by family names, religions, places of settlement, and places of origin, I’d bet some good money that I’ve got late relatives buried in  each one of the cemeteries I found.

Of course, I promised that I’d do some looking into the Polhemus family cemetery where my 5th great-grandfather was buried.  You would think that would be an easy thing considering that the cemetery is smack in the middle of American Revolutionary history. Not so.  None of the links to Colts Neck New Jersey Cemeteries seem to be working correctly.  However, I was able to get some interesting photos with definite possibilities.

I did some sleuth work, based on things I know about the Wyckoff family.  First, I know that they are Dutch; we have traced their records back to the Netherlands.  Second, I know that  they originally settled in the area of Monmouth County in New Jersey.  Third, I have some evidence from Find-a-Grave that indicates that Aukey Wyckoff was buried in the Polhemus family cemetery in Colt’s Neck, New Jersey. And, of course, I know their last name would have been Wikoff, Wykoff, or Wyckoff.  Knowing these things, I have come up with the following photos:

The Polhemus family cemetery, where Auke Wykoff is said to be buried, is located in the Colts Neck Reformed Church Cemetery. This makes sense, since most Dutch immigrants belonged to the Dutch Reformend Church. This is the only photo I could find of the “church” or cemetery.

Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church and graveyard

The Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church in Monmouth county. I would not be surprised at all to find ancestors buried here, even if they are not Wyckoffs.

Wyckoff family cemetery NJ

This is actually a screenshot of a street-view looking at the Wyckoff Reformed Church Cemetery in New Jersey. If I can’t find some relatives here, I’ll eat my hat!

The Wyckoff Reformed Church

  There are so many possibilities in New Jersey.  I would love to take a trip there sometime and do some cemetery hopping.  It would be a lot of fun to see how many of my Dutch ancestors I can find while I am there.

Voter Lookup

Colonel Wyckoff’s Lost Tombstone

My mom is a first generation American.  This means that she and her siblings are the first in the family to be born in the United States. My Grandfather on my dad’s side is also first generation American.  Mom is half German and half Austro-Hungarian Jew, and Grandpa on Dad’s side is 100% Polish. Grandpa on Dad’s side married an American. This is where the lost tombstone comes in. DAR FT

Dad says he’s half Polish and half mutt. On the mutt side of my family (the American side), I have a 5th great-grandfather who was a colonel in the American Revolution, so I qualify as a Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR); even though I am part mutt. Continue reading