29 January 2016

Family History as Art : Mary Sheppard Burton

For a little something different, today I'd like to share a find from the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

Hooked rug "When Pa Was Young - Skating the Bay..." by Mary Sheppard Burton
"When Pa Was Young - Skating the Bay
Edward Sampson Phipps"
Tell Me 'Bout Series, 1993-1994
Mary Sheppard Burton
Lib. of Congress / Folklife Center
When doing genealogy, we work mostly with records, either on-line or on paper. Photographs also provide clues and information about our ancestors and their lives. We make trees, write histories, generate reports. But there are other ways to tell our family stories.

Mary Sheppard Burton (b. 1922 - d. 2010) was a textile artist who worked in the medium of hooked rugs. She was a teacher, lecturer and author. But most of all she was a brilliant artist. She created a series of hooked rugs that illustrated stories from her family history, her "Tell Me 'Bout" series. These fabulous works are now housed in the American Folk Life Center, and can also be viewed online. Most of them have written commentary by Mary Burton that fill in the details of the story behind the rug.

My Grandpa (whom everyone called "Pa") would don his ice skates in the early morning hours, pick up his flask of corn whiskey, and step out on the icy Wicomico River at Salisbury, Maryland. Strong as an ox, he'd head downstream for the river's mouth, where he entered the Chesapeake Bay....

As a weaver of tapestry, I'm captivated by the idea of weaving my family's stories. How about you? Do you create visual art or craft that illustrates your genealogy?  Have you found any other examples of family history represented in art?


25 January 2016

Other People's Ancestors : Eliza Frances Fox

Eliza Frances Fox, High School Graduate, 1894, near Boston, MA.
Eliza Frances Fox
[This is the first in what I hope are a series of posts about Other People’s Ancestors (OPA). My aim here is to have a little fun with the research process and, hopefully, to find the descendants of my subjects so I can return these photos to them.]

My first story is one of success and, in a way, failure. I had hoped to find a descendant of the girl in this photo, and there I succeeded. The failure, though I don’t claim it as my own, is in returning the photo to the family.

You see, the person who I contacted has no interest in the photo. They confirmed that it was, indeed, their ancestor, and offered some additional information about the family. But this person is elderly, and claims almost no memory of the lady in the photo, and as such, it held no meaning for them, and they had no interest in it.

This made me a little sad because I’d come to like Eliza Frances Fox, and had hoped to send her home to someone who cared about her at least as much as I do. Still, she had siblings and some of them surely had children. So perhaps there is a great-great-niece or nephew out there who might be happy to find her. I’m recording what I found here on the chance that someone might be looking for her.

If you’d like to learn more about Miss Eliza Frances Fox, read on.

24 January 2016

"Rogue or Angel?" Contest Winner!

I'm pleased and honored to report that a Dixon ancestor has been featured in a story on The Social Historian, "a longform story website featuring history themed articles across the centuries and around the world." Barbara J. Starmans has compiled a fine history of the oyster industry in 19th century New Jersey, woven together with the tale of Asa Dixon, oysterman and rogue. [Asa was the brother of my great-great-grandfather, John Dixon.]

The Social Historian blog : "Oysterman Shot, Deputy Sheriff Arrested: Tragedy in Newark Bay" The story of Asa Dixon.
Click here to read the whole story!

 Please click through to Barbara's web site to read the whole story. And while you're there, check out some of the other interesting features that she's written.

22 January 2016

Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon & Her Children in 1928

The good thing about scanning photos is that each image gets your undivided attention for at least a little while. Instead of being just a pile of pictures, each picture becomes a piece of a puzzle. Looking closely at each image and logging a description in my photo log can give me missing insights and connections in the larger family story.

My big discovery this week was a set of photos taken on the same day, and labeled with the year. They feature my great-grandmother, grandmother, her sister, and some friends. Better still, my Mom and her brother are there too. These may be the youngest I've ever seen them! This set of photos, with dates on them, help me connect the dots to other images that I have.

Alice Karvoius [Alexandra Rimkus Karvojus], Elizabeth, NJ. 1928.
The first photo is of my great-grandmother,
Alice Karvoius. She was 45 years old in 1928.

Alice (Rimkus) Karvoius, Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon, a friend, Estelle Karvoius. Elizabeth, NJ. 1928.
Alice (Rimkus) Karvoius, Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon,
an unidentified friend, and Sophie's sister,
Estelle Karvoius, holding a baby.
In 1928, Sophie was 22 and Estelle was 19 years old.
Unidentified woman standing with Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon. Sophie is holding her daugher, Mary Elizabeth. Her son Wallace Andrew is the toddler standing in front. Elizabeth Port, NJ. 1928.
Unidentified friend, left,
Sophie Dixon, on the right,
holding Mary Elizabeth Dixon,
Wallace A. Dixon in front.

This third photo is the one that gives me another clue to help me identify the people in other photos.

That's my grandmother standing on the right. The photo is dated 1928. My uncle, Wallace A. Dixon was born in July of 1926, and my mother was born in October of 1927. I believe that the child my grandmother is holding is my Mom, Mary Elizabeth Dixon, and the toddler standing in front of her is my Uncle Wally. Here are some close-ups from the photo.

Mary Elizabeth Dixon, born 1927,
with her mother, Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon

Wallace Andrew Dixon, born 1926.
Son of Wallace B. and Sophie Dixon.
You've seen my Uncle Wally in a previous post, The Mystery of the Boy With the Boutonierre. He's the toddler standing in front of the group.
Little Wally Dixon,
as seen here.
I was only guessing that it was him, based on family resemblance. But this photo gives me more evidence that it is him. It also helps with an estimated date for that photo.
There are only a few mysteries related to these photos. Who are the unidentified women, and where in Elizabeth Port was the picture taken? If you have any clues for me, please get in touch!

20 January 2016

Resource Roundup : NY Public Library Digital Collections

Family History Image Bonanza

If you're looking for New Jersey resources, the logical place to start is in New Jersey. That makes sense. But don't discount the possibility of finding NJ resources in other states.

The New York Public Library has a huge image collection online that is easily searchable. It is a fabulous resource for any researcher. They have over 672,000 images available for your enjoyment, and many are free to use without restriction.

Cover of "Atlas, Union County, New Jersy, 1906" Jabob L. Bauer. From the NY Public Library Image Collection
Atlas of Union County, NJ
NY Public Library Images
The first search I tried was for "Elizabeth, New Jersey." I hit pay-dirt with the "Atlas of Union County, New Jersey, 1906. " My maternal grandfather was born in 1905, and my maternal grandmother was born in 1906. This little gem gives a nice idea of what their neighborhoods looked like around the time of their births.

The maps are very detailed, showing businesses, property owners names, and building construction type. If you have family from anywhere in Union County around this time period, I highly recommend it.

In a future post I hope to cover some of my discoveries in this great publication.

18 January 2016

The Mystery of the the Boy with the Boutonierre

Mystery Photo Monday : More kids, and familiar faces.

Unidentified boy in a suit. Possibly a first Communion photo. Circa the 1920's? Dixon or Karvoius side of the family?
The Boy with the Boutonierre.
Does anyone recognize this boy?

More children this week! Does anyone recognize this boy? It looks like he just made his First Holy Communion. Here's another photo from the party, with more mystery kids.

Unidentified boy, possible First Holy Communion celebration, with four other children. c. 1920's?
More Mystery Ancestors.
Doesn't that toddler look like Wallace A. Dixon?
There's the Boy with the Boutonierre, in the back. That toddler in the front sure looks like my grandfather, Wallace B. Dixon. But given that this photo looks more like a scene from the 1920's, it could be his son, Wallace Andrew Dixon. That is an extremely wild guess. If any of my cousins would like to weigh in here I'd appreciate it!

And more girls! But wait! That girl in the back there. She looks familiar. I think we saw her sitting on a stoop with some kids back in another Mystery Photo Monday post. Same girl, just a little older in this week's installment? What do you think?

Girl cropped from photo of other children, with boy who may have made First Holy Communion.
Mystery girl from this post.

Girl cropped from photo of other children, sitting on stoop. Possible connection with boy from Boutonierre photo.
Mystery girl from previous post.

15 January 2016

Sophia Karvojus : Two Baptism Certificates

Quirky Baptismal Certificate for Sophia Karvojus (Sophie Karvoius) who was baptized in 1906. Issued by Sts. Peter & Paul Church, Elizabeth, NJ in 1924. Much of the information is incorrect. A lesson in using derivitive documents.
Baptismal Certificate for Sophia Karvojus (Sophie Karvoius) who was baptized in 1906. Issued by Sts. Peter & Paul Church, Elizabeth, NJ in 1942. Some information conflicts with earlier certificate. A lesson in using derivitive documents.The Perils of Derivative Documents

This is the tale of two baptism certificates. They both record the baptism of my grandmother, Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon. They claim to be "As appears from the Baptismal Register of this Church" but they record somewhat different information.

I think this is a good illustration of the perils of derivative documents. Those are documents that are not created at the time of an event by a person with direct knowledge of an event. They are, instead, generated after an event, copying (sometimes inaccurately) information from another source. Or the facts stated were given by someone who may not have firsthand knowledge of the event.

If I had no prior family knowledge, and I only had the older of these two certificates, I'd be off on a wild goose chase for people who don't exist, and dates that are sketchy at best.

Evaluating These Documents

I found helpful guidance on evaluating these documents from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

Using their criteria I find that both documents state direct, as opposed to implied, facts. It seems likely that the records in the Baptismal Register of the church were probably [though not definitely] recorded by the person who performed the ceremony. So the Baptismal Register would be a primary source.

However, and it's a big however, these two documents are very much derivative, as they were copied from the register some time after the event. The fact that they give conflicting information proves that copying errors did occur.

But. They are both certified copies, bearing the seal of the church and signatures of the Rector or Pastor who copied the information from the register.

On her website, Evidence Explained, Elizabeth Shown Mills says that certified copies "usually can be treated as originals or equivalents, so long as we are duly critical."

This is me being duly critical

Fact 1: Name of Child
Both certificates list her name as Sophia Karvojus. I will accept this fact as true. The family eventually settled on a different spelling of the last name, and my grandmother had her name "Americanized" to "Sophie." I am confident that both these certificates are accurate on this point based on personal knowledge, and other documents that agree with this point. I have a wedding announcement that gives her name as "Sophia Mary." The last name is spelled so many different ways that I can hardly keep track, but I am confident that this is my Gram.

Fact 2: Parents
The older certificate, issued in what looks like 1924[25?] says that she is the child of Alex Karvojus and Constance Rimkus. I know this is incorrect. The Rector has mixed up the names.

The second certificate, issued in 1942, shows that she is the child of Constantin Karvojus and Alexandra Rimkastis. This is more true, as far as my personal knowledge goes and other documents state. Her father was Constantine [I've also seen it as "Constant"], and her mother was Alexandra [Americanized to "Alice"]. Rimkastis is a new twist. I've always heard my great-grandmother's maiden name as Rimkus. The names here are close enough to what I know and what appears on other documents to accept as true that these are Sophia's parents and their names are some variation of Constantine and Alexandra.

Fact 3: Date of Birth
The documents disagree on the date of her birth. The older document says 26 September 1906. The newer document says 26 October 1906. We always celebrated my grandmother's birthday on October 26. Finding a birth record that confirms this would be great.

Fact 4: Baptismal Date
They do agree on the baptismal date: 11 November 1906. Hooray! As a bonus, the 1942 document also gives the date that the baptism was entered into the register - 11 November 1906.

Fact 5: Witnesses
Justin Karvojus, Margarita Dorneika. Both agree.

Fact 6 : Celebrant
They disagree on who performed the baptism. The older certificate lists B. Z[?]zius, who also signed the certificate. The website of Sts. Peter & Paul Church tells me that Rev. Bartholomew Zindzius was the second pastor of the Parish, serving from April 1896 to March 1924. The date the certificate was issued is 27 July, 192?. The 1942 version says A. Calitri performed the baptism. It is signed by Rev. Star[?]. I don't know that this fact is all that important, but it does highlight the discrepancies between the two documents.


Although the earlier certificate was closer to the event of my grandmother's birth and baptism, just the fact that the Rector got the names of her parents switched around and her birth date wrong causes me to think that this document is unreliable. The only thing it really confirms is the date of the baptism and the names of the witnesses. Maybe that's enough.

These documents support the fact that Sophia Karvojus was baptized on 11 November 1906, and that the witnesses were Justin Karvojus and Margaret [or Margarita] Dorneika. They also support the conclusion that Sophia Karvojus was the child of Constantine and Alexandra Karvojus, with variations in the spelling of the name a minor factor. Positive confirmation of this fact could be made by examining the original Baptismal Register, if it is available or even still exists.

One of the documents confirms the known birth date of Sophia. The other document, because of it's general unreliability, can not be used to confirm this. However, I also don't think that it can be used as a reliable documentation of a conflicting fact for the birth date. It's just that wacky.

Next Steps

  • Contact the church and ask them to confirm the information in the original Baptismal Register, if possible.
  • Find a reliable birth record for Sophie Karvoius or Sophia Karvojus.
  • Research Justin Karvojus and Margaret Dorneika for other possible family connections.


Linda Woodward Geiger, "Guidelines for Evaluating Genealogical Resources," OnBoard 14 (May 2008): 14-15. Board for Certification of Genealogists (http://www.bcgcertification.org/skillbuilders/skbld085.html : [02 January 2016]).

Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 10: Original Records, Image Copies, and Derivatives,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-10-original-records-image-copies-and-derivatives : [02 January 2016]).

Saints Peter & Paul Church website ( http://www.peterandpaul.us/peterandpaul/ : [8 January 2016]).

13 January 2016

Wallace B. Dixon : Here's Looking at You Kid!

I have yet to find any baby pictures of my grandfather, Wallace B. Dixon (b. 1905, d. 1984). However, I do have a few from his childhood and teen years.

Wallace B. Dixon on a pony, and his pal, Jimmie Fahy, not on the pony. 1912.
Wallace B. Dixon and his pal, Jimmie Fahy
This photo of my Gramps on a pony is one of my favorites. The house in the background doesn't look familiar, so I can't say for sure where this was taken. Possibly in Elizabeth, NJ. Gramps would have been 7 years old at the time. My grandfather gave me a copy of this photo back in the 1970's. On the back he wrote:

Summer 1912 
Dear Liz,  This is a picture of Gramps Dixon astride "Secretariat." Jimmie Fahy is the trainer. Our time was "nothing flat." 

That may give you a glimpse of my Gramp's sense of humor. He could be a funny guy. You'll see more of Jimmie as this blog develops. He and Gramps were friends into adulthood. I've got several more photos of him as an adult, and he is a subject of some collateral research I hope to do. It would be great to find his descendants and give them a copy of this photo if they don't already have one.

Wallace B. Dixon. Sometime after 1912.
Wallace B. Dixon.
The second image  I cropped from a photo that shows my grandfather with his father, William A. Dixon, and his sister, Hazel. (I'll include the whole image in a future post.) I think Wally was a little older when this photo was taken than he was in the pony picture. I'm going to guess it was taken somewhere around 1915-20.

By 1920, when Wally was 15, William was no longer living in the household. Wally's mother declared herself as widowed and head of household in the census that year. I'm guessing there was a divorce in the works since William didn't actually die until 1927.

Wallace B. Dixon and an unidentified young woman. Probably early 1920's?
Wally Dixon and a friend.
The third photo shows Wally as a teenager/young man. He was a cutie, wasn't he? And so thin! I don't know who the girl is. A girlfriend maybe? I haven't found her in any other photos yet.

So this photo was probably taken after 1920. He married my grandmother, Sophie Karvoius, in 1925.

If you have an idea of who the young woman is, or what the date on this photo might be, please leave a comment!

Jimmie Fahy, Wallace B. Dixon, and two unidentified friends. Looks like they're ready for some fun.
From left: Jimmie Fahy, Wally Dixon, and two unidentified rascals.
I think this last photo is really funny. Do these guys look like they are about to embark on some hi-jinks or what? They're all dressed up, so maybe they're going to a dance or some other social event. And there's Jimmie Fahy to the left of his pal Wally. I don't know who those other two rascals are. If you recognize them, let me know, won't you?

11 January 2016

The Mystery of the Girls on the Stoop

Mystery Photo Monday - Who are all those girls?

I've got two photos for you today. They are related. I'm going to take a wild guess here and say these kids are connected with the Karvoius side of the family. Family, friends, neighbors? Your guess is as good as mine.

Seven unidentified girls sitting on a stoop. Maybe 1920's. Ages from toddler to early teens.
Seven girls, sitting on the stoop. It looks like it's laundry day down the Port!

Here's a close-up:

Close up of 7 girls sitting on a stoop. Possibly 1920's? Ages from toddler to teen.
Girls, girls, girls!
Note that the girl on the far left is wearing the same dress as the girl who is second from the right. Social faux pas, or sisters? I'm going to go with sisters. 

Two girls standing on the basement doors of a cafe.
Two girls from the first photo,
bravely standing on the trap door to the Cafe basement.

So, does anyone recognize these girls? If you do, I'd love to hear about it.

(In urban architecture, a stoop is a small staircase ending in a platform and leading to the entrance of an apartment building or other building. Wikipedia)

09 January 2016

National Oatmeal Month

A pretty little bowl of oatmeal, sprinkled with cinnamon.
I love oatmeal!
January is National Oatmeal Month. Or so the internet tells me.

It is also Bread Machine Baking Month, Egg Month, Hot Tea Month, Meat Month, Soup Month, Wheat Bread Month, and Prune Breakfast Month. But this is a story about oatmeal.

You see, for me every month is Oatmeal Month because oatmeal is my breakfast of choice. This has been true since my childhood. I spent a lot of time at my Grandma and Grandpa Dixon's house as a child. When Gram made me breakfast, it was often oatmeal.

Allow me to share my childhood recipe for oatmeal.

Take one bowl of hot oatmeal, preferably made by your Grandma. With your spoon, carefully smooth the surface of the oats until it is nice and level. Next, take a spoonful of sugar from the sugar bowl (Not with your oatmeal spoon, please.) Very carefully sprinkle a layer of sugar over the top of the oatmeal. Allow the sugar to melt a little. Then, take some chocolate jimmies (if you are from NJ you know what those are, if you're not, you might know them as sprinkles) and spread them in an even layer over the top of your oatmeal. Let them melt a little. Now, carefully using your spoon, scoop up a spoonful of oats, sugar, and jimmies.

Oh. Yum.

At some point in the proceedings this careful scooping will become boring to you. That's when you use your spoon to vigorously mix the whole mess together into one chocolaty bowl of oat goodness.

Please note that if you only have multicolored jimmies at your house, this last step is not recommended. The colors mix in a rather unappetizing way.

Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon and her granddaughter washing dishes, c. 1965.
Me and my Grandma, Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon
washing the dishes in her kitchen, c. 1965.

My grown-up oatmeal recipe

The nice thing about being a grown-up is that you can eat what you want for breakfast and no one can stop you. I still choose oatmeal most mornings, but without the sugar and jimmies.

I generally make our morning oats with milk as 1/3 of the liquid. I've been known to throw in a tablespoon of chia seeds, 2-3 tablespoons of sunflower seeds, and/or 2-3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut. Top with  a little cinnamon, and if you're feeling decadent, some honey or maple syrup.

Sometimes I cut loose and make Apple Cider Oatmeal. You'll find the recipe for that on my TeaShanty Blog. (much neglected, I'm afraid).

You can also find a bunch of mighty good looking recipes over at TasteSpotting.

What about you?

Do you have any favorite childhood breakfast memories or foods?

08 January 2016

Wallace B. Dixon : Name Changer

You Can Call Me Wally

In a previous post regarding a birth record for my grandfather, Wallace B. Dixon, I raised the question of his name change. I had been told many times by  a variety of people that he had been given the name Bernard Wallace when he was born, but legally changed it to Wallace Bernard when he became an adult.

Since this whole genealogy thing revolves around Proof, I've been looking for sources that confirm that he did, indeed, change his name.

Here's the birth record that I have for him
View of Birth Date (02Mar1905), Place (Elizabeth, N.J.), and Name (Wallace Bernard Dixon)  from delayed birth document for Wallace B. Dixon
1942 document recording Wallace Bernard Dixon's birth in 1905.

While this is a certified copy of birth information recorded in official documents, it was created nearly 40 years after the event, and is a derivative document. On a scale of 1-4 for reliability, I'd give it a 2-3.

In the 1905 New Jersey State Census he is recorded as Bernard. The same is true in the 1915 New Jersey State Census. (Sorry, no images yet. These were index only records.)

We can see here that in the 1920 Federal Census, he was being called Wallace.

The Census Enumerator spelled the last name wrong, but this is Wally's family. Note the absence of his father, William A. His mother is claiming that she is widowed, but William was still very much alive in 1920. Another mystery.

Of course, it is entirely possible that he was named Wallace Bernard when he was born, and the family just used his middle name. Perhaps, somewhere between the ages of 10 and 15, he decided that he much preferred to be called Wallace or Wally.

Next Steps

In order to prove my grandfather's birth name and possible name change I will need to do a few things.
  • See if I can get a photocopy of the original birth record.
    Where can I find that? How do I procure a copy?
  • If the original birth record shows that he was named Bernard Wallace at birth, then I will have to find a source for records of legal name changes in NJ. Is that information even available?


"New Jersey State Census, 1905," database, FamilySearch (https://beta.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KMHK-VXD : accessed 23 November 2015), William A Dixon, , Union, New Jersey, United States; citing p. 6, line 44, Department of State, Trenton; FHL microfilm 1,688,625.

"New Jersey State Census, 1915", database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV9W-WW8H : accessed 23 November 2015), William Dixon, 1915.

1920 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010), Ancestry.com, Year: 1920; Census Place: Elizabeth City Ward 10, Union, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1070; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 97; Image: 823. Record for Wallace Dickson.

06 January 2016

Resource Roundup : Then and Now

I've got a fine resource for all you Elizabeth, NJ history buffs.  You'll find it on Archive.org

Elizabeth, New Jersey Then and Now (Second Edition 2015) by Robert J. Baptista has some interesting information, and even better, photos! He combines a "Then and Now" visual format with memories and anecdotes about different places in Elizabeth. It's an easy, fun read. And best of all, you can see it for free!

I was especially glad to find this aerial photo, c. 1923, of the area that my Karvoius ancestors lived in, Elizabethport, aka "down the Port."

It's a little hard to see here, but in the upper right part of the page is a street that runs diagonally from the corner of the photo. That's Ripley Place. The arrow there points to Saints Peter and Paul RC Church, the church my family attended even after moving to other parts of Elizabeth and to Roselle. Even into the 1960's Mass was often celebrated in Lithuanian.

Running along the top right edge of the photo is the Singer factory. My great-grandfather, Constantine Karvoius worked there, as did his daughters, Sophie, and Estelle. (Not sure about Tess. Cousins, do you have any information about that?)

And between Ripley place and Singers is what appears to be an athletic field. Perhaps it is the site of the photo from my previous post, "The Mystery of the Sports Team from Bayonne." Take a closer look at the book and tell me what you think.

Do you have any memories of the neighborhood around Ripley Place and Singers? I'd love to hear them.

04 January 2016

The Mystery of the Sports Team From Bayonne

Welcome to Mystery Photo Monday!

Girl poses with 5 men at a sporting event. Some of the men wear "Bayonne" jerseys. Factory in the background.
Sports fan poses with guys from Bayonne and that other team.

Questions. I've got questions. I've got lots and lots of questions....

  • Do you know any of these people? I have no idea who they are. This photo might be from either the Dixon or Karvoius side of the family. I don't know which.
  • Is that the Singer Sewing Machine Factory in the background?  I'm pretty sure it is. If you compare it to this image from the Library of Congress, the buildings look to be the same. For a really close look you can download the high res image from their web site and enlarge it. The windows show the same pattern in both photos. The Singer factory in Elizabeth, NJ was a major employer in the city for 109 years. It closed in 1982. Many of my Karvoius family ancestors worked there. Probably a few Dixon ancestors too.
  • What sport do you think they might be playing?
  • Can anyone date this photo? Roughly?
  • What team is that other guy with? The one with the big "F" on his chest?
[06Jan2016 See also this post: Resource Roundup : Then and Now]

If you have answers to any of these questions, or can offer any insights at all, drop me a note or leave a comment.

Thanks a bunch!

02 January 2016

Genealogy Do-Over 2016

Sophie Karvoius Dixon
Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon
Yes, she really said that. Often.

"If something is worth doing, it's worth doing right." - Grandma Dixon

Even as I'm working on this blog I'll be participating in the 2016 Genealogy Do-Over. This is a great program designed by Thomas McEntee to help us become better genealogists. Topics are divided into a monthly format with to-do lists.

I just started doing my genealogy research in 2015, so I don't have years of research to review. Still, I started out as a stark-raving beginner (as a former riding instructor used to call newbie equestrians) with more enthusiasm than organization. Yes, my college major was History. But apparently there are rules, or at least strong suggestions, on how to proceed with this family tree stuff. And really, I'd like to get it right the first time. Or I guess the second time, what with the do-over and all.

I'm going to try to post what I'm going to do for the assignments at the beginning of each month, and then give a little progress report at the end of the month.

Hopefully, just writing this will make me stick to it!

January Assignments and What I Plan to Do

Setting previous research aside : time to break up with the old files and research.

Aside from the few items I will use for my blog posts here, I intend to pretty much ignore the research I've done so far and start from scratch. I'm trying out some new software since Ancestry has decided to discontinue Family Tree Maker. I figured the do-over would give me a chance to learn the new software while I was reviewing all my research.

Preparing to research : This assignment is all about how you researched in the past, what worked and didn't, and making changes in time, location, tools, etc. We are to think about our past research habits and consider what changes to make. Also, we're to make a list of tools that are essential to our research process, and write a few research exercises as warm-ups for when we get to the research part of the program.

I will be the first to admit that my research process is a bit whimsical. Also, the desk is usually cluttered with papers of various sorts. So here are some things I'd like to do:
  • Clean off the desk before and after each research session.
  • Have a research goal in mind when I start, make notes of what I've found where, and make a note of where to start next time.
  • Think about what tools might help me research more efficiently. I pretty much do everything on my computer now, putting my iPad to use for quick reference. I'm going to look into Evernote, which people seem to rave about, and see if it will be useful for my work flow.
  • Research "warm-up" exercises. I'm not entirely sure what to do for that. I'll get back to you!

Helpful Resources

01 January 2016

Wallace Bernard Dixon - Birth Record

Wallace Bernard Dixon, b. 1905 in Elizabeth, NJ
Wallace B. Dixon
Born in 1905 in
Elizabeth, NJ

This is where it starts

My search for the ancestors I don't know begins with the ones that I do know. First we'll start with my Grandpa Dixon.

My maternal grandfather, Wallace Bernard Dixon, was born on 2 March 1905 in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

His parents were William A. Dixon and Mary Elizabeth Klein. If you take a closer look at this birth record, you'll notice that Mary Elizabeth was 38 years old when Wallace was born. She had already given birth to five children that I know of. She would have one more child after Wallace was born, a daughter named Hazel, born in 1909.

Birth record for Wallace Bernard Dixon, born 2 March 1905 in Elizabeth, NJ.
Birth Record for Wallace B. Dixon

Just the facts

Information from this document:
  • Wallace Bernard Dixon was born on 2 March 1905 in Elizabeth, NJ.
  • His parents are William A. Dixon and Mary E. Klein.
  • William A. Dixon was working as a carpenter. 
  • William A. Dixon was born in the USA in about 1863 [inferred based on his age in 1905].
  • Mary E. Klein was born in the USA in about 1867 [inferred based on her age in 1905].
  • Attending the birth was L. F.[?] Terrill.
  • This document was issued on 31 March 1942 as a transcript from the City of Elizabeth, NJ Records of Birth in the office of the City Clerk, Patrick F. Keelan.

Questions for further research

  • William A. Dixon was working as a carpenter. The family were traditionally oystermen. Was he ever an oysterman, and if so, when and why did he switch to carpentry?
  • The document lists my grandfather's name as "Wallace Bernard." Family lore has it that he was born "Bernard Wallace" and later changed it to Wallace Bernard. Look for the original birth record from 1905 and see how his name was recorded.

    [Update 8Jan2016 : see post "Wallace B. Dixon : Name Changer" for additional information.]
  • What was happening in 1942 that caused my grandfather to get this delayed birth record?
My grandfather's generation spanned 25 years. He had at least six siblings about whom I know virtually nothing. These are people I want to learn about. Their descendants are cousins I'd like to meet. Theirs are the stories I'm looking for.

Birth Certificate [delayed] for Wallace Bernard Dixon, 31 March 1942, Certificate No. 2636, City Clerk, City of Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey. Transcript from official Records of Birth. Certified copy in possession of author.