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We just returned from an amazing couple of days in St. George, Utah, where we attended the Family History Expo last Friday and Saturday. As one of a small cadre of “Bloggers of Honor,” I spent much of my time Tweeting and taking notes, but I also made it a point to get to know a little more about my fellow geneabloggers. Let me tell you – I’m in pretty great company.
The Friday night banquet offered me a good opportunity. Themed The Wizards of Blogz,** banquet attendees heard from a handful of bloggers who spoke on the amazing family history resources to be found via social networking – there has never been a better time to be researching the past.
“Where else [besides the Internet] can you reach 50,000 people in a few seconds?” Arlene Eakle (Arlene Eakle’s Genealogy Blog) reminded us of the days when folks would post a surname in the hometown newspaper and wait, just hoping someone would find it and take the time to reply. Now, finding long lost cousins often takes nothing more than setting up a Facebook page dedicated to that surname, and boom! Tons of distant relatives are out there, ready and waiting to help, and hoping you can help them. It is no hyperbole to say that the Internet has changed the face of genealogy forever.
Our Master of Ceremonies, Jean Wilcox Hibbin (Circle Mending) entertained us with altered renditions of Oz classics and told us all about the care and feeding of a genealogy blog. I have an affinity for Jean because, though she is a dedicated genealogist, her passion is preserving music, and I love that. We all record the data for one reason or another, but when we keep the music and the stories and the images alive, we save the heartbeat of our people to pass along. There is something pure and beautiful in that.
Blogger AC Ivory (Find My Ancestors) also spoke. In a crowd where even I end up on the younger end of the age spectrum, AC is a baby. But he’s savvy about genealogy and media, and he offered solid advice and encouragement to family historians about how to get started blogging and tweeting. (If you want to follow Family History Expo blogger comments on Twitter, just do a search for the #fhexpo hashtag.)
During the dinner, I had a lot of fun sitting with Gena Ortega (of World Vital Records and Gena’s Genealogy Blog). She attended dinner with her two boys, and between them and Scott, at least a gallon of pink Kool-aid was consumed! Among her many responsibilities, Gena maintains GenealogyWise, a site she described in her remarks to the banquet crowd as “Facebook for genealogy.” That intrigued me, so one of the first things I did when I got home was join and set up a page for Photoloom. The site is very easy to use, and a nice alternative for family historians who want to avoid the Farmville/Mafia/Pirate crowd (which, by the way, you will only understand if you are already involved with the Farmville/Mafie/Pirate crowd). One of the cool features of GenealogyWise is its Chat Room, where you can ask questions, visit with fellow family historians, or attend a scheduled chats on a variety of topics and hosted by experts in the field. This Sunday I'm planning to attend a chat hosted by Jean that will focus on breaking into the genealogy lecture circuit. (Click here or on the sidebar to join the Photoloom group on GenealogyWise.)
One final blogger I wanted to be sure to mention is Denise Levenick, of Family Curator. What a nice lady! Like me, she's a writer in her real life, and "slips on a hat and veil and may be found writing classic tales of romance and suspense as Miss Penelope Dreadful" (for the Shades of the Departed online photography magazine.) The focus of Family Curator dovetails nicely with Above the Trees, so if you are reading us, you may want to check it out. I’m hoping to persuade Denise to write a guest blog for us.
That’s it for today. In the coming weeks, I’ll be making some big announcements about new Photoloom features and affiliates, adding a couple more installments to follow up the St. George Expo (On the Vender Floor; Class Notes), and gearing up for our first National Genealogical Conference, which at the end of April in Salt Lake City.
** The banquet couldn’t have been a more suitably themed – by the time we arrived in St. George, Holly Hansen and her crew at Family History Expos had survived a doozy of a twister – a fatal server failure that brought their website and email to a screeching halt just a week before the event. And yet, Holly emerged from the storm pressed, polished, ready for a world filled with interesting characters and face new challenges.
We have a winner in our Photo Family History Contest! Congratulations to Sylvia Hott Sonneborn, of the Barefoot Genealogy Blogs (as well as the treasurer and newsletter editor of the Barefoot Reunion Association, Windber, Pennsylvania), sent us this wonderful entry. Sylvia will receive two free registrations at the St. George Family History Expo, a free one-year Premium Family Photoloom membership, and our genuine admiration!
Here's Sylvia's entry:
Some old pencil sketches and a handwritten note from my Grandmother Ella Hammer Krise give me a slice of life of my great-great grandparents. At a family reunion, one of the attendees brought pencil drawings of my g-g-grandparents, and I took photographs of the drawings. The bearded gentleman is Solomon Nunemaker Hammer, who was born 14 December 1812 in Jennerstown, St. Clair Twp., Bedford , Pennsylvania, United States, and he died 13 February 1890 in the same place.
His wife Elizabeth (Barefoot) Hammer was born 18 February 1813 at St. Clairsville, Bedford, Pennsylvania, United States. She died 17 September 1889 in Jenner Township, Somerset, Pennsylvania, United States. Together they had 10 children, and among them was my great-grandfather Joseph Sleek Hammer of Johnstown, Cambria, Pennsylvania, United States.
While I don’t know much about the Hammers, I found a handwritten note from Joseph Sleek Hammer’s daughter, my grandmother, Ella Hammer Krise, that reveals a little of Solomon and Elizabeth:
“Grandmother Hammer and Grand F. had their own riding horse. G.M.'s had a round full body, and short legs. Its name was Gin. G.M. had a very wide riding skirt and a side saddle. She raised flax and wove linen. She also spun wool, made yarn, colored it black, blue, red, and brown, knit stockings, wove cloth, flannel, and carpets. G.M. was a beautiful woman, always smiling. [This would have been Elizabeth Barefoot Hammer.] [Solomon Hammer died in 1890, so this information predates that as well as the pencil drawings and family photo.]
"Grandfather's horse was a beautiful horse, black as coal, long legs, and ran off whenever he felt like it. No one could ride him except Gr. F. One day they hitched him up with Gin, to haul in some hay. He decided to run off. He ran up against a tree, and that was the last of him.
"G.F. was a large man. G.M. could stand under his arm.”
In addition, there is a very old photo of the Hammer Family. Solomon and Elizabeth are in the center with some of their children and their spouses surrounding them, circa 1885-1889.
Front Row: Ross Forward Hammer (abt 30), Probably their granddaughter and daughter of Mary, Mary Jane Cauffiel (abt 25). Row 2: Solomon Nunemaker Hammer (abt 73), Elizabeth Barefoot (abt 71), Louisa Foust, wife of David Hammer (abt 33), Malinda Galbreath, wife of John Hammer (abt 31). Back Row: John Colby Hammer (abt 40), David Mark Hammer (abt 35), Mary Hammer Cauffiel (abt 49), Charlotte Hammer Livingston (abt 48), Polly Spiegel Hammer, wife of Ross (abt 26).
Our thanks to everyone who entered our contest this time!
Photoloom has a new face! We've changed our color scheme and tweaked our logo. Now if you look closely, you can see a "tree" woven into our photo-corner ~ the perfect marriage of photos and family history!
Serendipity is my all time favorite word.
Last Thursday night, I was reviewing some updates our daughter had made to some of our graphics when Serendipity snuck up and stamped on my toe. All of a sudden, I saw “the tree,” right there in front of me. Sure, it was sideways and hidden, but it was there.
Has that always been there? Why haven’t I seen it before? Why did it taken me three and a half years to see something so obvious?
If you’ve been working on your family history for any amount of time, you’ve asked yourself these very questions. There you are, hunched over your desk, scanning the same document for the hundredth time, when suddenly something completely new jumps out at you. Something that HAS ALWAYS BEEN THERE, just waiting for you to find it. And most of the time, this happens when you are all alone, and you want to jump around the room and hug someone and tell them about the cool thing you just discovered, but there’s no one there and so you have to just kind of squeeze yourself and smile a lot.
Or maybe that part’s just me.
Anyway, my point is, things don’t always happen like we expect them to. And sometimes that’s a good thing.
Have you entered our Family Threads Contest yet? Send us your favorite family history photo and a short description/story/memory about it! First prize is two tickets to the St. George Family History Expo at the end of this month.
We are gearing up to attend the St. George Family History Expo at the end of February, and in conjunction with that, I am pleased as punch to announce our first ever (da-da-da-dahh!) Family Threads Contest!!!
The Winner will receive these awesome prizes:
Big things are happening at Photoloom! Just for starters, we are now an official software affiliate with New FamilySearch, and are working to become “New FamilySearch Certified.”
With our upcoming 3.0 release, Family Photoloom members will be able to import information from New FamilySearch* and tag their pictures with New FamilySearch IDs, enabling their pictures to be associated with records stored in New FamilySearch.
What does this mean for you?
You can import your genealogy information into your Family Photoloom account directly from New FamilySearch, so you will no longer need to type it in. You can help ornament the global New FamilySearch tree with your pictures and documents. You have complete control over what is kept private and what is made available to other researchers. Together we are paving the way for a new generation of "image-enriched genealogy."