Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Arm-chair genealogy

Actually not "arm-chair" here since I sit before the computer screen on one of Aunt Laura Love's dining room chairs, in honorable service to the family since at least 1900 and probably longer: Sturdy (obviously), comfortable, light-weight and beautiful in a simple battered way. But you get the idea.

 It's a heck of a lot easier to engage in genealogical research now than it used to be and I've been at this since my fifth-grade teacher assigned her charges to go home, talk to their parents and grandparents and come up with rudimentary family trees. I was hooked then and remain fascinated.

Some of this online business can be aggravating (and mildly expensive). My Ancestry.com subscription renewed itself the other day, darn it. The folks at Ancestry, the biggest and best, no longer bother to either ask or tell --- they just bill your credit card and I resent that. On the other hand, I probably use Ancestry at least once every day for all sorts of research, so it's money well spent for me at least. But the volume of free stuff out there (most conveniently if you can afford a high-speed Internet hookup) continues to expand amazingly.

Take the two YouTube clips above, for example. Play them consecutively and you'll visit briefly the Hice-Pershing Cemetery, located in Indiana County, Pennsylvania on the north bank of the Conemaugh River just across from Ninevah and New Florence in Westmoreland County. My great-great-grandparents, Jacob and Harriet (Dick) Myers, left New Florence in 1867 and moved to Lucas County, but Hice-Pershing apparently had been the family graveyard for generations. And I never expected to see it --- until YouTube came along.

A little ways into the second clip, the video creator visits the grave of Kate Connolly, daughter of Phoebe Myers and therefore a niece of Jacob. He then moves on to the graves of George Myers (died 1876) and Elizabeth Myers (died 1884), Jacob's siblings. Jacob, George, Elizabeth and Phoebe were among the children of Abraham and Sarah (Hill) Myers; and Sarah, the daughter of Gasper and Phoebe Hill. Most likely they're all buried here, too --- in unmarked graves.

Also yesterday evening, I revisited the West Virginia Division of Cuture and History's vital records database, which continues to expand. Digital images of virtually all birth, marriage and death records into the early years of the 20th century now are available online at this site. It's an amazing resource for those of us who have a good many West Virginia ancestors. You can access the site here

There's lots more free stuff out there and the supply continues to grow. The LDS Family Search beta site, located here, continues to expand, and many of the digital book images at (for a price) Ancestry.com are also available, for free, at Google Books. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to tell my free-spending (of my money) friends at Ancestry.com to shove it.


By the time that happens, however, I may need the price of an annual subscription to buy a box of breakfast cereal. How in the world do families afford to feed themselves these days? For heaven's sake.

I'm just not going to pay $4 (now at least) for a box of cereal, which means I generally eat what's on sale. So I'm filled with pre-Christmas cheer today because HyVee had Post Raisin Bran on sale last week for $1.88 a crack --- and I've now got four big boxes stashed away. Speaking of that, it's cereal time.


The sad news of the morning involves Elizabeth Edwards, whose cancer now apparently has reached its terminal stage. What a heart-breaker.

Remember John "pond scum" Edwards, who seemed to many of us a promising presidential candidate at the Democat end of the spectrum --- until it became evident he was hopelessly zipper-challenged?

I guess it's still OK to elect male presidents, but really to believe we should administer the oath of office to their wives. Women (in most but not all cases) are so much more sensible. I doubt Laura, for example, would have gotten us hopelessly mired in Iraq and Afghanistan.

1 comment:

Ed said...

I resent Ancestry's 'instant' renewal too. I keep a copy of my receipt next to my 'genealogy' computer so that I remember if when it comes times to renew it. I always seem to renew it though.

You make a good point about expanding archives. Many a time I've gone back to research someone after a couple years only to find a lot more information available. I can't imagine what the next generation genealogist from my family, if one emerges, will have available.