Friday, February 22, 2013

Scrapbook Saturday: The Scrap Book - Beginning of an Incredible Journey

[photo of the front cover of the scrapbook]

The Scrap Book cover has almost completely fallen off. Many of the first pages and several of the later ones have become detached from the two brads that originally held the scrap book together. Inside I find a variety of newspaper clippings: front page articles, sequential articles about one man's death, obituaries, wedding and travel announcements, stories of local events, national events. There are some magazine clippings and poems. There’s even a personal item or two including two hand-crafted paper figures with movable limbs. All of these are items of such importance that someone took the time to carefully insert them in this Scrap Book. The newspaper clippings are now as brown as the scrapbook pages themselves. Some clippings have become detached from their original page, some are stuck tight to the page, and some appear to be missing altogether. But inside this Scrap Book are stories, connections, information and evidence of my ancestors and the lives they lived. Friends, among whom they lived, are present, as are associates from church and workplace, and neighbors, both next door and within the community. Join me as I begin my journey to discover all that this Scrap Book contains.

How Did I Become the Keeper of the Scrap Book?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Welcome to Erie and Niagara Roots

New York - Western New York - Erie and Niagara Counties

Welcome to my blog!

I was born and raised in North Tonawanda, Niagara County, New York, near Niagara Falls. But growing up I didn't know very much about my Niagara and Erie County heritage. No one ever spoke about our ancestors and, though I attended the Lutheran church and grade school, part of the extensive network of Lutheran churches and schools in the area, no one ever gave any clues to our family’s ethnicity. What I would later discover regarding my Prussian Lutheran ancestry!

My genealogy interest began about 1976 when my paternal grandmother, Catherine (Graff) Williams received a book in the mail. The Batt Genealogy[1] laid out her maternal family history. Realizing there were many errors in the names, dates and places for our family, I set about asking questions of my parents and grandparents in order to correct these errors. A couple years later I discovered a copy of Everton's Genealogical Helper[2] in a magazine rack and was introduced to the wider world of genealogy. An advertisement provided the source for my first genealogy supplies purchase. I used those blank pedigree charts and family group sheets to record the "correct" names, dates and places for myself, parents, brothers, grandparents, cousins, and thus began my genealogical journey into my Erie and Niagara roots.

Over the next 20 years interest in genealogy came and went. I’d find the stack of pedigree charts and family group sheets and try to add more information as I discovered it. Working as a page in the North Tonawanda Public Library[3] during high school introduced me to local resources like city directories and newspapers on microfilm. Later, during college years, working in the Klinck Memorial Library[4] of Concordia College (now University) introduced me to a wide range of scholarly journals and books on the history of the Lutheran church. Again and again, with no regularity, I’d pick up where I left off, be interested enough for a while, but really didn’t progress much and didn’t seem to find the interest to seriously pursue genealogical research.

Beginning in the early 1990s something finally “clicked” and I discovered my inner passion for family history research. With a personal computer at home and Family Tree Maker 3.0 software[5], I suddenly had tools to assist me in my research. Chicago’s repositories, especially the Harold Washington Library Center[6] and the National Archives’ Great Lakes Region branch,[7] provided access to microfilm of census records, Federal and New York State censuses, ship passenger lists, and naturalizations. Later I became aware of the Newberry Library[8] and its significant genealogical and historical collections. From then on it’s been full steam ahead!

Join me on my genealogical journey as I continue to discover and finally share my Erie and Niagara Roots! Perhaps you’ll discover that we’re related or come from similar peoples.

[1] Atwell, Glenn R. The Batt genealogy: a record of the descendants of Franz Joseph Batt, Sr., and Barbara Weber, and of Anthony Batt and Beatrice Glath, of Alsace and America. Buffalo, N.Y.: Batt Family Association of Alsace and America, Inc., 1976.