Genealogy And Family Survival

The Truth About Genealogy….When I was in the third grade, I rode my bike to school, and all the way there my mind roamed the universe—castles and knights, cowboys, sports, outer space and comic book characters–but not one thought was given to school.

I wasn’t interested in school. It was only an irritant and a constant interruption of all the things that were important to my 8-year-old mind. In fact, the only way to make the school day bearable was to cram every available moment with things that had nothing to do with school.

And I wasn’t alone. The hallways, the gymnasium, the playground, the cafeteria were all filled with people playing at the latest fad. These fads included yo-yos, tops, baseball cards, crystal radios, Davy Crockett coonskin caps, pea-shooters, and squirt guns.

The school, on the other hand, employed an army of teachers and coaches and lunch ladies and hall monitors to confiscate our stuff and stifle our fun, which admittedly slowed us, but never stopped us.


I think it was right about the time that yo-yos started to lose popularity that one of the guys came to school with a blue coin folder. It was made of stiff cardboard, with kind of a leatherette finish and silver printing on the front. Inside were round slots with the dates and mint letters printed below them. He had already filled in about a dozen slots with pennies, because it was a penny folder. He said that once he found all the pennies and filled in all the slots, he could turn in the folder for $50 at the bank.

Fifty dollars! We were amazed. We asked him where he got the folder, and he said the corner Rexall store carried them. No surprise, there. They were the ones who carried the yo-yos with rhinestones on them, the wax lips, and the miniature squirt guns so small you could hide them in the palm of your hand. All through the week, the blue penny folders started to appear in my classmates’ hands. Whenever someone got change back from his milk money, a dozen heads would gather and peer over his shoulder to see the dates on the pennies he was checking.

It was a careful time, I remember. I didn’t dare spend a cent until I had scrutinized the date on it. Bus money, milk money, and candy money were examined with an obsessive intensity, while nickels, dimes and quarters were practically ignored. I hounded my parents to let me look through their change every night, and insisted on silver coins for lunch money, so I could get pennies back in change.

When I think about it, we must have been an irritating bunch, always fiddling with our pennies. The only redeeming factor was that we only had penny folders, Any other denomination wasn’t of much interest to us–even dollar bills weren’t as magnetic as a handful of pennies. Most of us filled in the easy spots of our blue folders pretty quickly, until the slots that remained were for the scarce coins.

As we began to realize what an ordeal it would be to truly fill one of these folders, we started to get discouraged and became bored with the whole affair. But there was one kid who showed up at school with his folder completely filled. We were impressed as only third graders can be, and asked him how he did it. His dad helped. His dad had a coin collection. His dad already had most of the coins, if not all of them.

The kid was proud of his filled folder, but he had no stories to tell about collecting the coins. He didn’t even know which ones were the hard ones to find. He didn’t know about the zinc-coated steel pennies minted during World War II because of the wartime need for copper in ammunition and other military equipment.

Or the 1909-S VDB penny designed by Victor David Brenner at the request of President Theodore Roosevelt, that is one of the most in-demand items among penny coin collectors. Even those of us whose folders were mostly empty knew about these things.

So what did the coin collector’s son get out of the experience? I think he got out of it what he put into it. The only kid with a completed penny folder, and yet he hadn’t learned what the rest of us who hadn’t filled their folders learned.

I’m not 8 years old any more, and I no longer collect pennies, but I have developed an interest in genealogy which isn’t so very different from the fascination I used to feel for all those third-grade fads.

And every time I see people who people who hire a genealogist to do the research on their entire ancestry, or the ones who grab the work already done by a relative and use it to fill out a decorative family tree to hang on the living room wall, or the home genealogists who never read the books dealing with the time and place where their ancestors lived, but instead flip straight to the index to look for family surnames, I remember the kid who had a fully-filled penny folder, but who had learned nothing about the pennies it held.

Misleading Genealogy Advice for Beginners

Misleading Genealogy Advice….Confusion. Busywork. Chasing your tail. Scattering your focus. Too many choices. Frustration. Loss of patience. These are things that continually plague new family tree researchers, and it’s not altogether their fault. The blame lies with the do-it-yourself instructions being handed out (or sold) by pseudo-experts, and sometimes by real experts. It’s not so much that it’s untrue as it is that it’s unhelpful. Often, with good intentions.

There’s a difference between knowing something and being able to explain it so someone else can understand it. Plus, an explanation that makes sense to an experienced person may be totally confusing to a novice. This is why so many people give up ancestor hunting before they really get started. So, what’s the answer?

The answer is a different kind of explanation, one that walks a fine line between telling you what to do, and telling you why. It makes sense to explain the steps, but only to someone who understands the basic gist of where they are trying to go with their family tree research.

Here’s an example. People tell you to interview family members, which is good. However, it can lead to your getting confused and overwhelmed. Your fundamental, bare-bones family tree is not about brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles. It is about you, your parents, their parents, their parents’ parents, and so on, back as far into the past as you can go. To maintain your focus, you need to concentrate on the “parents of the parents” concept as your road map. The other relatives are not in that direct parental line, so they are of secondary importance to your quest.

Back to the parents of the parents. Once you find them, you need to document that they are your ancestors. What would qualify as documentation of ancestry? Three records:

* Birth Certificates
* Marriage Certificates
* Death Certificates

Are these the only acceptable documents? No. Are they the easiest to find? Sometimes. Then why mention only these three? They are the most obvious official documents that outline a person’s life. Birth, marriage, and death. Any family history researcher who keeps these documents in mind won’t stray far from the trail.

Now here’s how these documents work. A birth certificate will identify the person, and the date and place of birth. However, it will also tell who the parents were. This helps you go back into the past, locating the parents of the parents.

Marriage certificates document a fork in the road. Marriage is the basis for new family lineages being formed. To trace them backwards, we need to know the date and location of the marriage and name of the spouse. Fortunately, the marriage certificate will provide the maiden name of the bride.

Death certificates mark the end of a life. They contain the name of the individual and the time and place of death.

How about other documents, like obituaries? Having the time and place of death is often necessary to be able to find the dates and towns where the obituary was published.

Genealogy isn’t like a blueprint, where everything is mapped out in advance, requiring only that you follow the steps. It’s more like a treasure hunt, where the end isn’t in sight, but where each discovery contains a clue for finding the next. That’s how beginning family history researchers should be taught.

Family Survival Following A Crisis

Family Survival Following A Crisis….Personal safety and freedom in our world today, has never been more precarious. At any moment, we could find that our homes are under siege or a major disaster (man made or climatic) has struck. Are you prepared?

Consider a situation like this. You and your family wake up to find another beautiful day. You all prepare for your day. You go off to work and your family goes off to their own destinations.

It’s just a day like any other. Then a disaster hits, surprising everyone and many are hurt or killed. You see fire scattered throughout the city and all transportation has come to a halt, no electricity or utilities are available and the sky becomes covered in blackness.


Fear and shock overwhelm you and those around you are crying and screaming in pain or fear. You think of your family and wonder if they are alive and wonder how you can get to them. What would you do? What could you do? Are you and your family prepared to deal with this or any disastrous situation?

Every single person and every family needs to have a plan prepared. Each of us needs to know what to do and where the family members will meet in case of a disaster.

Start having family meetings on a regular basis to discuss the following:

1. Be aware of your environment. When at work or school, be aware of all emergency exits, where the stairs are located (do no use elevators), where fire extinguishers are located and other obstacles around you.

2. Discuss possible scenarios and what responses you could take in an emergency.

3. Discuss where and how the family should meet should all communications not be available.

4. Discuss what survival items that should be kept with each person at all times and what survival items for vehicles, and homes.

5. Start a list of items needed to be purchased and work together collecting items for each person, vehicle, and home.

I suggest having family meetings at least once a month because this helps to reinforce the importance of staying aware of unexpected emergency procedures. It also is beneficial to reevaluate family plans that may have changed because of recent moves, changes in phone numbers, etc. You and your family need to also learn about solar power.

It may be necessary to evacuate your home. Your family should be prepared for such an occurrence.

4 Important Steps of Preparation in Case of Evacuation

1. Have your prepared and packed suitcase ready with the following: insurance and important papers, cash for support for 3 months time, family genealogy records.

2. Portable items you want to save like: cameras, guns, Flashlight and battery operated radio, extra batteries, jewelry and other personal items of need.

3. Only if you have time, take valuable less important items like: TV’s, computer, clothing …etc.

4. Have your vehicle ready and stored with the following: blankets, water, collapsible shovel, first aid kit, jumper cables, weather conscious clothing, extra cell phone, small hammer. Also, keep your vehicle in good working condition and you get in the habit of keeping the gas level no lower than half a tank.

Time is most valuable when we don’t have it. Emergency family preparedness is what every family should strive for. When disaster hits and we are under high stress, there is NO TIME to run around finding what we need. Think of how you would feel is you are caught in a situation where you don’t have what you and your family needs. Going without necessary survival items can be the difference between life and death. Get Prepared Now!

Solar Power is an important step to take to benefit your families future survival. Having solar power in your home and other solar power items (radio, flashlight) will be a great help in any disaster situation.

Solar power benefits your home in many ways and is imperative in any emergency. Having solar power in your home and other solar power items (radio, flashlight) will be a great help in any disaster situation. Home preparedness is essential in these times of energy deficiencies and world-wide instability.