Friday, August 29, 2008

The Lost Boys

I know it sounds like it, but this blog entry will not be a dissertation on either Peter Pan's unruly band or Kiefer Sutherland's rise to stardom as a vampire in the 80s. You have to learn to live with disappointment. Really...

I want to share an experience I had in getting some divine help in finishing a family's history in my husband's line. We were planning a trip to see his grandmother in Indiana back in February of this year. That is where a good chunk of his ancestors and their families settled. Knowing this, I decided to see if we could double up on the purpose of the trip and perhaps get in some grave hunting or other similarly morbid-sounding activities in order to add to the research we had.

Just a few days before leaving, I decided I needed to narrow down which family I wanted to focus my efforts on as a year-long sabbatical in Indiana wouldn't be enough to get information on all of his Indiana ancestors, let alone a 3-day weekend. I opened our family file in our genealogy program and made a somewhat random decision to focus on a downline of one of his ancestors. These people were not in his direct line, but were distant cousins of his. (I tend to follow down lines when I can because those can help tie together earlier generations, as well as give me a more complete family picture.) The family I chose lived in Allen County, Indiana, in the mid to late 1800s. The father was William H Tigar and the mother was Gertrude Probasco. I had them listed as having six children.

I decided to get online, where the bulk of my genealogy research happens. I felt prompted to look for burial records first to see if we could get some headstone pictures while we were in Fort Wayne. I knew the Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne was where the parents were buried. I found myself on the Friends of Allen County website. If you are lucky enough to have any ancestors who lived in Allen County, Indiana, you've got some amazing resources at your fingertips! So I search their online database for the Lindenwood Cemetery burials, and abracadabra! I discover two new Tigar names. One was a boy who died at 6 years old and was buried in 1888. The other was a boy who died in 18 years old in 1919. I do some further digging, and find obituary listings for the 18 year old. I realize these are probably children of this family that I didn't have. Thomas, who died at 6 years old, was their first son. The second, Donald, was their last son. I had just found two lost boys, the oldest and youngest, of this family of 10 that I previously assumed was a family of 8.

We made our trip, and sure enough, next to the parents headstones were markers for both Thomas and Donald. Standing in the cemetery with the snow falling, looking at the family's headstones, I had such a strong impression that this family was pleased with our work in making sure all of their children were included in our records. My soaked socks and shoes, my fingers chilled to the bone from gently scraping snow mounds off the headstones, and my children yelling at us from the heated car to know how much longer we were going to take - none of that could shake the warm feelings we had at that moment for family members we'd never met.

When we stopped by the Allen County library in Fort Wayne, I was able to very quickly find an obituary for Donald, who died as a teenager. (The staff and resources at that library are absolutely amazing!) They didn't even charge me for the printouts I made of the obituaries I found.

Due to time constraints at the library, I didn't find the obituary which I know exists for Thomas, but I did find one for Donald. Here's how it reads:


DONALD TIGAR DROPS
DEAD AT PARTY
_____________

Survived by Mother and Six
Brothers; Funeral An-
nouncements Later
_____________

Donald S. Tigar, youngest son of
Mrs. Gertrude Tigar, 1313 Crescent
avenue, dropped dead at the home of
some friends in this city at 11:00
p.m. last night.
He had been in poor health for
the past eight years but for several
months past had been seemingly
quite well. At a party with a num-
ber of friends he was playing games
when with his face to the wall he
slid to the floor and died within a
few minutes.
Donald was born in Fort Wayne on
April 29, 1901, and has lived here
all his life. He attended the public
schools and was a member of the
class of 1919, Fort Wayne High
school when forced to abandon his
studies due to ill health.
He was a grandson to the late Thos.
Tigar, founder of the Fort Wayne
Sentinel and son of the late William
H. Tigar who was an official of the
Pennsylvania Railroad Co., until his
death seven years ago.
Surviving are his mother, Mrs.
Gertrude Tigar of this city, nad six
brothers--Jay of this city, Roy of
Valparaiso, Ind., Herbert of Flint,
Mich., Harry of Kalamazoo, Mich.,
and Paul, now in the United States
navy.

Here is William Tigar's headstone:



Here is Donald Tigar's headstone:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Affordable Digitizing and Publishing...No, Really!

I have to admit it! I am hooked on the $$$ values I find all over the Internet, but especially in the areas of family history research. As any genealogist will tell you, hobbyist or professional, genealogy is not necessarily a cheap pursuit, particularly if you want to do it right.

It is pretty clear that the Internet has made genealogy so much more affordable and convenient with records availability. Sites such as Family Search, Ancestry.com, Cyndi's List, RootsWeb, and others seem now to have been around on the Internet for years. However, what about other aspects of family history work, like digitizing old photos and slides or publishing a genealogy book?

I have found two very excellent sites that I just have to share. Many of you may have already heard of these sites, especially the first one, in genealogy conferences or family history periodicals or even message boards. I want to share with you my personal experiences with both sites, so you can also get a firsthand review of their services, affordability, quality of work, etc.

1 - For digitizing, I absolutely love ScanCafe! Digitizing is becoming a must for all genealogists in order to preserve our precious work well into the future. Up until recently, we had only two options. Pay for a high-quality scanner and slide scanner, and then spend hours and hours of our time scanning photograph after photograph -- only to find we don't have the expertise to restore faded color or make tears in photographs disappear. Our second option wasn't much better. We had to find a local photography store that did digitizing and restoration, and then pay quite the hefty sum to have them do it for us. Now, there is a third option!

I recently ended up with a box of old 35mm slides from my grandmother's personal things. There were approximately 265 of them. I don't have a slide scanner, and didn't even want to consider buying one as these would likely be the only slides that ever passed through my hands. The expense would hardly have been justified. So, I decided to give ScanCafe a try. I'd read about their services from a genealogical magazine.

The process works like this: you go online and make an order. You choose whether you want tin plates, photographs, 35mm slides or negatives digitized. It will ask you for the approximate quantities of each type of media. They will calculate the estimated order total based on the numbers you provide. You will pay for half of that amount plus the cost of shipping to them up front. At the end of your order, ScanCafe will create a UPS shipping label. Find the nearest UPS Store, take your originals and label, and they'll help you package it right. When ScanCafe receives your originals, they will scan them in and notify you when they are done so you can view them online. When viewing them, you select the ones you want to keep and have digitized (you can delete up to half of the original number without paying for them). You can also select extra restoration services at this time, which are very affordable. They do some basic restoration on all of the media as part of the deal, but you can select certain images that might need some extra care. You pay any remaining cost of the order, they digitize them, and then mail back your originals along with your digitized copy (a CD or DVD are just a couple of the options).

I was nervous at first about letting the precious originals go out of my hands, but they use UPS to ship, which means you can track your package all the way to their office. Then, they offer a tracking system while the originals are with them so you can see what stage your order is at. They use UPS to ship everything back to you, so once again, you can track your originals until they show up at your door.

I sent approximately 265 slides. I deleted about 80 of them, and my total cost ended up being a little less than $50, shipping and all. I honestly don't know how their customer service is because with their order tracking system, I never found the need to contact them. The only drawback was it took about 8 weeks from start to finish as they have been featured in several prominent news stories and genealogical magazines, and they are being flooded with new orders every day.



2 - On to my next Internet gem. How about publishing a family history? Let's say you're not a professional, and you just want to create a Christmas gift for your family of some of the stories and research you've found. Most publishers have minimum order quantities, which means it will cost you a pretty penny. You could do it yourself on a home printer, but how would you have the book bound or finished so it didn't look so, well, homemade?

I have worked with Lulu.com over the past two years. They are an online publisher catering specifically to those of us who don't want to pay for minimum quantities but still want professional results. I have done two different family books through them. Both were perfect bound, 100-200 pages, black and white on the inside, with full color covers. The paperback books cost approximately $6.00 a piece plus shipping. (Yes, you read that right.) The hardcover versions were approximately $19 plus shipping. Remember, there is no order minimum, so I can order just one book if I choose. However, they do give discounts for larger quantity orders, as well.

They offer several different binding options, color options, book sizes, and covers. They have templates if you aren't as creative for cover choices, or you can custom-create your own and just upload it as a PDF. They even offer the option of purchasing an ISBN for your book, if you'd like to go that far with it. You can set up your book to earn you revenue, as well. In your Lulu account, you can make any of your individual projects available to the public. You can then set a commission you'd like to earn, and if your book sells, you make money.

When I make an order, I usually have the books within 2-3 weeks (a little longer for larger quantity orders or for hardcover books).

The only drawback to using Lulu.com is making sure your formatting falls within their guidelines so you are satisified with the results when you get them. However, there are plenty of Lulu publishers, including myself, who are more than willing to help edit/format books pre-publication specifically to Lulu's requirements.

The Internet has made genealogy as a hobby and as a profession, much more widespread, more affordable, and more convenient. However, I still think we have yet to see the greatest contributions to genealogy from the use of the web. This includes digitizing our media, publishing our research, and coordinating and sharing information with researchers all over the world.