Favorite Genealogy Books

Who better to ask about favorite genealogy books than the genealogists who share ideas via Twitter? Here are the first answers to come in, along with the poll and my own answer:

POLL: What is your favorite genealogy book & why? If you’ll reply via Twitter I’ll compile the recommendations and post them online @ http://tiny.cc/RelMusing

Somerset Homecoming is a favorite of mine. The author researched a communiity once enslaved on Somerset Plantation. See whose favorite this is:  http://twitter.com/AYWalton

Family Chronicle books: 500 Brickwall Solutions to Genealogy Problems & More Brickwall Solutions Many ideas to try!  Favorites of:  http://twitter.com/mdiane_rogers 

Fave genealogy book is The Family Tree Problem Solver by M. H. Rising, will probably be Pro Genealogy by E. S. Mills (when I finish).  Favorites of:  http://twitter.com/MichaelHait

Land & Property Research in the U.S. by E. Wade Hone, et al. has been so useful & informative in much of my genealogy research. This is a favorite of: http://twitter.com/FamilyStories

So many favorites! Google Your Family Tree and ProGen rank near the top of my list though, after personal family genealogies. These are favorites of: http://twitter.com/rcurious

My fav genealogy book is The Sleuth Book for Genealogists by Emily Croom because I love solving family history mysteries with clues! This is a favorite of:  http://twitter.com/BBPetura

We’ll expand the list as more nominations arrive! Thanks to all who contributed ideas right away!

Barbara / http://twitter.com/BBPetura

Published in: on May 12, 2009 at 3:49 am  Comments (1)  
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Top 10 Genealogy Sites

Randy Seaver, who writes the blog called Geneamusings posed a Saturday night genealogy project for fun. He writes: “Let’s do a Top Ten list of Favorite Genealogy Web Sites. These can be record databases, data portals, how-to sites, family trees, software, entertainment, blogs, etc.”

So here are the top ten sites that helped my research:

1 – Ancestry.com - many databases of info, use it all the time
2 – FamilySearch – IGI,  Ancestral File, more helpful here, as well as access to the Family History Library catalog
3 – RootsWeb - helpful researcher contributions
4 – GoogleBooks – many old and valuable family lineage & family history books online
5 – Heritage Quest - census, family books, PERSI, Revolutionary War Pension records. Get free log in from your library
6 – CastleGarden.org - many immigrant ancestors arriving before Ellis Island can be found here, upgrade coming soon
7 – GenForums – great place for queries for surnames, locations
8 – USGenWeb - especially the individual counties posting vital, census and cemetery records, more
9 – Wisconsin Vital Records - marriage records link people born same county, same day, suggesting possible spouses
10 – Milwaukee County Links to the Past - diverse resources on city’s people, family, genealogy resources

Doing genealogy is like doing jigsaw puzzles and requires pieces of each person’s puzzle from different sources. That’s the challenge and the fascination!

Here are several genealogy guides that I have created :

> Brickwall Genealogy Resources
> Finding Family for Free index of postings that are found on my genealogy blog called Relative Musings.

You can see Randy’s top 10 list on his post for May 2, 2009. Go to his blog and add a post with your list — or post it online and create a link on this blog page.

Enjoy!

Published in: on May 3, 2009 at 12:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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City Directories

Most family history researchers focus their early work on census records. Census records do contain a wealth of information and cover rural areas, small towns and cities.

However, if your ancestors lived in one of America’s cities, there is another resource that deserves your equal attention, namely city directories. Here is a lively example of how they can help you fill in your family’s story and answer puzzling questions.

I recently sent a cousin the family history that I had discovered — building on the great work my sister did when she and and her husband lived in Madison, Wisconsin, and their son was a baby. The cousin emailed a question I too had wondered about:
 
“Why was Beatrice Jane Bruce born in Cambridge, Massachusetts?’
 
I never thought I could find the answer — until Ancestry.com put hundreds and hundreds of city directories from the 1880s and 1890s onto its Web site.  The directories help fill the gap caused by the loss of the 1890 census records in a major fire.

In those days, before people had telephone numbers, city directories included name, address — and occupation. So I wondered, would there be one for Cambridge, Mass., for 1896 and would Bea’s father Martin P. Bruce be in it? Voila! Yes! The entry reads as follows:
 
Bruce, Martin P., Salesman, Fish Bros. Wagon Co., h. 56 Baldwin.
 
Fish Bros. Wagon Company was a very large Racine, Wisconsin, firm that sold their wooden wagons nationwide and overseas. It was controlled by J.I Case of Racine. Fish Bros.  made both work wagons and fancy wagons such as phaetons and trotting buggies. You can read more about the firm and see a sketch of the Racine plant  online.
 
So it seems that Martin, newly married in 1895, took a position that promised better opportunities than his occupation as a clerk or accountant — which he had pursued since 1887 when he was 17 years old. Even if that meant Martin Bruce and his wife Grace Booth Bruce having to move east across the country to a new city.

They were there just one year, with daughter Beatrice Jane Bruce born 22 May 1896. Perhaps Martin did not like the life of a salesman. [He likely was a sales agent for Fish Bros., calling on businesses that sold the wagons to customers]. Or, with a new baby, Martin and Grace wanted to be back in Milwaukee among their families.

In any case, by the time the 1897 Milwaukee Directory was published, Martin, Grace and Bea were back in Milwaukee. Martin was listed that year as:

Bruce Martin P., bkpr. 205 Wells, h 465 Hanover

What company did he work for as a bookkeeper? Based on the address at 205 Wells, it was J. Dorsch & Sons, a company that sold agricultural implements and carriages. Its directory listing says:

J. DORSCH & SONS, agric. Implts and carriages, 195 2d and 205-211 Wells.

Martin had worked there as early as 1892, according to city directories. We surmise that he got to know the sales representatives of Fish Bros. Wagon Company. And there is the likely link to the sales job in Cambridge.

So there is why Bea was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, courtesy of city directories for Cambridge and Milwaukee.

You can find city directories in your local libraries or on microfilm through LDS Family History Centers or via Interlibrary Loan, all at a very low cost. Check them out soon!

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research articles to help you find your family and ancestors, often for modest or no cost.

Published in: on January 25, 2009 at 7:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Brickwall Overcome

Every one doing genealogy research eventually comes to a brickwall, that spot in the family tree when you can go no further.  This is the story of overcoming a family history brickwall using many and varied resources to succeed, including the help of two generous genealogists. The result was, for me, a remarkable new insight into my heritage.

My paternal uncle had gathered considerable family information and sketches of family trees for various lines of our family.  It was in these notes that I first encountered the name Frederick Bruce, an ancestor who came to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from New York with his family in 1842. Those key facts came from the book I Was Born in America: The Memoirs of William George Bruce.

Frederick was the father of Augustus F. Bruce, who in turn was the father of Martin P. Bruce, my great-grandfather. William George Bruce  (1856-1949) — Martin’s oldest brother — wrote and published many books on Milwaukee history and other topics.

Thus I set off with high hopes of finding more about Frederick Bruce in census and other records in Wisconsin and New York. Instead, I immediately hit a brickwall. There was no Frederick Bruce in census records in Wisconsin or New York, nor in the 1848-1849 Milwaukee City Directory. In contrast, I could find many records starting about 1857 for Frederick’s three sons: Augustus Bruce in Milwaukee, Martin F. Bruce near Pensacola, Florida, and John Bruce in San Francisco, California.

So I began collecting all the information I could about the three sons, and garnered additional insights from W. G. Bruce’s Memoirs.  I was delighted to be able to purchase a copy of the book that included portraits of Augustus F. Bruce, his wife Apollonia Becker Bruce and their son William George Bruce.

Pieces of the puzzle emerged. Frederick Bruce, his wife and son August came to America from Prussia in the 1830s. Sons Martin and John appeared to have been born in New York. The traditional male occupations for the family were sailor, ship’s carpenter and ship’s caulker.  And they were Protestants.  Clearly the family came from a port city with shipyards along the northern coast of Prussia, in other words near the Baltic Sea coast. But where?

A vital clue was provided on a copy of the abstract of the will of August Bruce, also called August F. Bruce, alias Bruss. Here was the original spelling of the family name, used until the late 1850s when all three sons began using the anglicized Bruce.

So when I found Frederick Bruss, a ship’s carpenter, in the 1847-1848 Milwaukee City Directory, I was elated — until I realized that he lived in the Second Ward on the west side of Milwaukee River, while our family had lived in the First Ward on the east side of the river, according to W. G. Bruce’s Memoirs.

I continued doing research. I discovered a Bruss family than had arrived from Pomerania in 1839, came to Milwaukee and then moved just north of the city to a new village called Freidstadt or “free city.” They were among the Old Lutherans who emigrated from Prussia to continue practicing their Lutheran faith, when the Prussian Emperor Wilhelm III forced a merger of Lutheran and Calvinist churches into one union church.

That Bruss family came from Cammin, north of Stettin and very near the Baltic Sea. When I read that Cammin was an historic Hanseatic shipbuilding city, I had a “eureka” moment. Could this be where my Bruss family was from? I decided to post a query summarizing all the salient details that I had collected about the family. I noted that the Prussia/Germany Genealogy Forum had an expert shown as Robert T. who helped many family seekers.

In a very short time, he replied and asked if this family from Cammin, Pomerania, Prussia was the one I was seeking: Martin Friedrich Bruss, age 40, journeyman ship’s carpenter; Sophie Bruss, née Stiemke, age 37, w; August Bruss, age 9, s; Martin Bruss, age 6, s; Johann Bruss, age 4, s. [W is wife, S is son]. 

The family sailed,  he wrote, on the ship Echo from Liverpool to New York City, arriving 19 September 1839. The Echo was one of five or six ships that brought about 1,000 Old Lutherans to America, where they settled in and around Buffalo, New York, or Milwaukee, Wisconsin. [Note: the Echo’s passenger list has the surname misspelled as Buss, and both ages and occupation wrong, but Martin, Sophia, August, Martin and Johan are clearly shown.]

This certainly looked like my ancestors, except that sons Martin and Johann or John were also born in Cammin, not in New York.

How could I confirm this apparent match? I knew that John Bartelt, the genealogist with the Bruss ancestors in Freistadt, had obtained birth records for his own Bruss ancestors via microfilm. I wrote to him on the chance that he had the Martin Friedrich Bruss family details, and he did. He kindly sent the birth and baptism dates for sons August, Martin and Johann and they matched dates I had collected from other sources.  He also sent the birth and baptism dates for the oldest son, Wilhelm, who died young according to family history. This certainly was my family! And how wonderful to have Sophie’s name!

Now I could find them recorded in the 1943 book about the Old Lutherans, written in German by Wilhelm Iwan and translated into English. Martin Friedrich Bruss, journeyman ship carpenter, and his family from Kammin at shown at the very bottom of this listing of emigrants.

I wrote thank you messages to Robert and John, for their kindness was essential to helping me overcome this brickwall.

And then I remembered that there was a Martin Bruss in the First Ward on the east side of the Milwaukee River listed in the 1847-1848 Milwaukee City Directory – right where William George Bruce said his grandfather settled when he came to Milwaukee.

I was now able to find him in the 1850 Census in Milwaukee’s First Ward, age 51, a ship’s carpenter with $1,500 in real estate, surname recorded as Brass. He had remarried since Sophie had died — apparently in the cholera epidemic, W. G. Bruce had written. Recorded with Martin in the 1850 Census were his sons Martin, a sail maker, and John. All three were recorded as born in Germany. August, the oldest son, likely was away sailing on the Great Lakes.

Overcoming this brickwall took three years of researching on and off, looking again at what I had discovered, trying new approaches, and then taking a chance on a possible solution based on the clues I had accumulated. I am grateful to everyone who helped me find this part of my family who were among the first Germans to settle in Milwaukee when it was still three villages — Juneautown on the eastside, Kilbourntown on the westside and Walker’s Point on the southside — not to be incorporated until 1846.

Census Sources

I was asked recently how to find all the census records for different states and counties, and even countries. Because the census is an invaluable tool for genealogists, I offer the following ideas on census sources, both free and requiring suscription. While these recommendations are mostly for the United States, key Canadian and British census sources are also mentioned.

The first place that I would look for census documents – if you have surnames and locations back that far — is to search the 1880 US Census for free at the FamilySearch.org Web site.

 The 1880 Census is wonderful because for many families it lists all household members, shows each person’s relationship to the head of the household, plus age, occupation, and where they and their parents were born. That page linked above also lets you search the 1881 British Census and the 1881 Canadian Census for free.

[2] The second thing that I would do is call your public library and ask if they have a subscription to Heritage Quest, an online source for searching ensus records, Revolutionary War pension records, family history books in digitized format and more. If they say yes, ask for the password to log in to Heritage Quest from home.

Click on the HQ home page to see what it looks like after you’ve signed in via the link at your library’s Web site — and what it offers. Here is the URL: http://www.heritagequestonline.com/

HQ has searchable indexes for 1790 through 1820 and 1860 through 1920. Other years are online as scans of census pages that you can browse page by page.  Still it is free from your library if they have it. If not, ask about the nearest library that does. Sometimes a county library has it, but a particular city does not.

[3] Another approach to finding census records is to use Google to find the GenWeb or other genealogy Web site for the specific county you are researching.  In some counties, volunteers have fully transcribed the early census records for the county. Others have done surname indexes. Both are helpful.

I am very grateful for the work of many volunteers to put old census records for New Holstein, Calumet County, Wisconsin online — both early state and federal censuses. The index to the 1855 Wisconsin census on that site showed me that several of my key ancestral lines had arrived by that time from Germany.

[4] Also, you can look at your state of interest at Census-Online.com and then check the county you want to see what is available. Here for example is Wisconsin, a key state in my research:

[5] In addition, you can find the LDS Family History Center nearest you and visit to use their computers with subscriptions to Ancestry.com.  I believe the centers offer Ancestry these days. Search here for the one in your area.

[6] Finally, when you have decided that genealogy is something you want to pursue seriously, then you will likely want to subscribe to one of the services such as Ancestry.com to get census records and so much more available easily at your home computer.

As you collect census records for a particular family, you might consider establishing a timeline or other means to display the changes in the family — who was in the family each 10 years and who was out on their own, starting a career or a family.

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research articles to help you find your family and ancestors, often for modest or no cost.

Published in: on August 9, 2008 at 2:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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Seeking Ancestors from Germany

Many Americans have ancestors from Germany, but are unsure how to find what area of Germany they came from, and who made up the earlier generations of the family.  Strategies to begin your research will depend on what you know so far.

The first thing you should do is talk to your relatives to see if there are records or memories of where in Germany the ancestors came from. And about when.  And where they settled in America. If relatives don’t know a great deal, you can search ship passenger logs or try to obtain the naturalization papers for the earliest male to arrive.

Or you can use Interlibrary Loan at your local library to get the relevant volumes of the Germans to America series and look up the family. There are 67 volumes covering 1840 to 1897.  Click to see the full list of volumes.

Depending on when your German ancestors arrived, the census records can contain references to specific areas of Germany, rather than just Prussia or Germany. 

For my research, the 1870 Census for Calumet County, Wisconsin, contained an invaluable clue.  The elder Ferdinand Hachez, who settled in New Holstein in 1854, was recorded in the 1860 Census as being from Holstein, as so many of the settlers there were. 

But in 1870, he told the German-speaking census recorder that his actual place of origin was Bremen, a free city in Germany. With help from an expert genealogist in Germany, I have found his family in Bremen, a exciting moment in my research. Click for more about the Hachez family.

Depending on when your German ancestors arrived, these sites are worth searching:
> Castle Garden immigration:  http://www.castlegarden.org/
> Ellis Island immigration: http://www.ellisisland.org/

When you have a pretty good idea of where the family originated, you can join one of the genealogy email discussion groups for that part of Germany — and ask for assistance. Most of the genealogy email discussion lists are in English or in both English and German — and the genealogists who help people in the USA speak and write English very well.  For example, here are all the Rootsweb mailing lists for different areas of Germany

You might have luck with a list member knowing of your family. Or you may find a genealogy researcher on the list who offers to help, for a fee. I have had excellent assistance from Klaus Struve, an expert genealogist in Schleswig-Holstein who also has a splendid Web site about people who emigrated from that far northern area of Germany. He now has 63,000 names of emigrants listed. See his Rootdigger site here for a wealth of resources.

With his help, I now have this branch of my family back to the 1700s. The money spent was worth it, for I received transcripts of each of the German originals, followed by an English translation.

Finally, there are additional resources on German Americans — including books on German American genealogy — to be found on this Web page about German Americans and genealogy.

Best wishes in researching your roots!

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research articles to help you find your family and ancestors, often for modest or no cost.

Benjamin Church House – Milwaukee

benjamin-church-house-front.jpg Photograph by Barbara Bradley Petura

An exceptional way to be in touch with your family history is to visit locations important to your ancestors’ lives.  July 2007 gave me an opportunity to do just that. 

The place was the Benjamin Church House, located since 1938 in Estabrook Park, Shorewood. The house was built about 1844 in an area then known as Kilbourntown. That name came from Bryon Kilbourn, land owner and founder about 1835 of the pioneer town just west of the Milwaukee River.

Kilbourntown was one of three towns that merged in 1846 to create the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The others were Juneautown east of the river and Walker’s Point to the south.

In those days, the Church house was on Fourth Street at the intersection with Court Street, between Cherry and Galena streets. The site in the pioneer era is described as up a hill overlooking a tamarack swamp near the river.

Benjamin Church, my ggg-grandfather, was one of the earliest settlers in Milwaukee. He arrived in November 1835 via Chicago from his birthplace in Ulster County, New York.

A pioneer carpenter and master builder, he brought the Greek Revival style from the East Coast to the young city of Milwaukee — and applied it to construction of his own family home. With its four graceful columns on the front and other distinctive features, the house gives the feeling of a small Greek temple.

That Greek Revival style, combined with the use of hand-hewn lumber and Cream City bricks stamped with the date 1844 and initials of the brick maker, made the house worth saving, restoring and moving to a new location. The house today is an intimate museum of life in Milwaukee in the 1850s, with the furnishings giving a sense of what life was like in those days.

Standing in the cozy house, I imagined Benjamin Church returning home, up the hill to the house, climbing the steps to the porch and enjoying the modest elegance of the Doric columns, then entering the house right into the small living room.  A fire crackling in the fireplace and the sounds of his children would have greeted him at the end of a day’s work.

His wife Permilia would likely have been in the kitchen cooking dinner, helped by oldest daughters Ann Maria and Ann Augusta. I imagine the younger children doing their chores, or their studies, or perhaps playing.

Known to her family as Hannah, Ann Maria married Sherman A. Bradley on January 6, 1859. They too lived in the Church House and their son Jesse Charles Bradley was born there June 22, 1866.

A special treasure awaited me in the back room of the house, where a display board told the history of house and of Benjamin Church himself. There on display was his photograph! See it on the page with his biography.

The Benjamin Church House, also called the Kilbourntown House, is open to the public free during the summer. A docent or guide is on hand to talk about the house, its history and its significance in conveying a vivid snapshot of early Milwaukee history.

Check with the Milwaukee County Historical Society for the hours the house is open. It is worth a visit!

Essay and photograph by Barbara Ann Bradley Petura, July/August 2007.

Published in: on August 13, 2007 at 4:42 am  Comments (1)  
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Antiques: Pastime to Business, Part II

In Part II of this interview with Elizabeth Bradley, we will learn more about the different types of antiques she collects for her Elizabeth Bradley Antiques.

Q:  Victorian Staffordshire figures are varied and popular. What types of figures do you specialize in?

A:  I especially love the Staffordshire dogs… all breeds… and the animals… sheep, cows, rabbits.  Royal figures as children, from the Victorian era, are popular, too. These are my favorites and seem to appeal to my customers, too.

Q:  What is Imari, and how do Chines and Japanese Imari differ?

A:  At the end of the 17th century, Japanese ceramics became fashionable and were heavily influenced by Korea. They were shipped from a port in Japan called Imari and became known as Imariware. Early Japanese Imari was underglaze blue ceramic with overglaze enamels of cobalt blue, iron red and gilt. Most early Japanese Imari is in museums or private collections.

Rarely did the Chinese copy from the Japanese, but they did copy early Japanese Imari, in the 18th century, turning out a finer porcelain with a much more delicate color palette.  Then, in the mid-19th century, the Japanese began to produce Imari for a larger market, with vibrant blues and reds. This is the Japanese Imari we see and collect today. Later Japanese Imari is far more reasonably priced than Chinese Imari as it is later, more primitive and there is more of it available.

Q:  What is Canton pottery?

A:  Canton pottery was made in China in the 19th century and was often used as ballast for the ships that brought tea to America. It is generally crudely made and can be found in many different forms.  Often it was purchased by early Americans to be used as every-day china as it was very cheap.  There is a “kitchen set” at Mount Vernon.  Over the years, it became more prized and more rare.  Today Canton is a collector’s item.

Q:  What do you look for when selecting pieces, whether Staffordshire or Imari or Canton pottery?

A: First of all, the piece has to be aesthetically pleasing.  Then I look for the best condition and color and general appeal, and of course, reasonableness of price.

Q:  What advice do you give someone who is interested in collecting antique Staffordshire, Imari, or Canton and Oriental pottery?

A:  Buy what you love, first of all. Although antiques generally appreciate in value over the years, if you worry about resale value, then buy stocks and bonds. Most importantly, buy antiques that become part of your life and home. Condition is important but, sometimes, with a really rare piece, condition becomes less important. For example, I have a wonderful Japanese wooden temple guardian figure, missing most of its paint and gilt. It doesn’t matter to me because I will never find another one.

Q:  What is your greatest pleasure in working with these antiques?

A:  I love to look at them… some days, I have one favorite, some days, another. I often say, “I am so pleased that we bought that lovely Chinese Imari urn or a charming Staffordshire dog.”

People often ask how I can bear to sell the things we buy. I have developed a philosophy: some things I buy to keep, some things I specifically buy to sell, and some things pass through our collection. When we are ready, we sell them. It is a fluid collection for us and we never tire of it.

> Visit the Elizabeth Bradley Antiques to learn about about the Bradleys and their beautiful antiques.

 

> Read Part I of this interview, for a look at how Elizabeth Bradley was introduced to the world and the business of antiques.

Published in: on March 2, 2007 at 2:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Antiques: Pastime to Business

 

One of the special pleasures of doing genealogy and family history research is learning more about the pastimes, professions and businesses of one’s relatives.  One particularly appealing story is the launch and development of Elizabeth Bradley Antiques. Enjoy our interview with Elizabeth Bradley.

 

Q:  When did you begin to collect antiques and what were your special interest at that time?

 

A:  My husband and I began collecting antiques more than 50 years ago when we were first married.  Because we had no money to spend on “frivolities,” we began in a very small way, buying little pieces we liked whenever we could. We had a favorite aunt who had a house decorated in blue and white… very different at that time… which we loved… that probably started our interest in blue and white Canton.  We collected every form and shape of Canton for years… it became a kind of “treasure hunt.”  The fun of collecting antiques is that you never know where and when you will find a gem.

 

Q:  What drew you to these types of antiques?

 

A:  We bought whenever we found a piece we loved… not for resale value. Gradually we became interested in Oriental antiques of all kinds… some furniture, scrolls, jade, woodblock prints, and whatever else appealed to us. Antique dealers became friends which we always found a plus… they were always ready to share their knowledge with us.

 

In that way, a lovely antique object appealed to our eyes as well as to our love of learning.  Whenever and wherever we traveled, we had a mission:  see what new and wonderful antiques were right at our fingertips.

 

Q:  When did you become active in the antique business itself and how did you get started?

 

A:  About 25 years ago, I took a job at the Milwaukee Auction Gallery as an appraiser.  I had an opportunity to be exposed to nearly everything in the antique world… Stickley furniture, English and American furniture, Oriental porcelain and pottery, snuff bottles, dolls, tin toys, World War I posters, everything. This experience honed my taste in antiques… I realized the difference between an object of beauty that I wanted to own and one I could appreciate but did not want to live with.

 

Along the way, an English antique dealer said to me, “You could go into the antique business,” so I decided to do so.  I began advertising in a national antiques trade newspaper and doing a few antique shows and the business grew from there. I have loved almost every minute of it!

 

Q:  Today, Elizabeth Bradley Antiques specializes in four categories — Is there a reason for this cluster?

 

A:  I suppose I have to say that I learned early that I am not a born salesperson…  I find it difficult to enthusiastically sell items that I don’t love myself. Victorian Staffordshire figures, Chinese Imari and Japanese Imari, Canton and Oriental pottery, and English accessories are all antiques we truly love.

 

After years of collecting just Oriental antiques, we learned to love the whimsy of Victorian Staffordshire figures and began to collect and sell them. Besides, it gave us an excuse to travel to England twice a year to buy!

 

> Visit the Elizabeth Bradley Antiques to learn about about the Bradleys and their beautiful antiques.

 

> Read Part II of this interview, where we will learn more about these different types of antiques.

 

 

Published in: on March 1, 2007 at 2:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Finding Family for Free, Part XV

Efforts to research and record your family history will in most cases be more successful if part of the story is already published in books. These books may include individual biographies, brief biographical sketches in history books on various communities, memoirs and family genealogy books.

During the 1800s and early 1900s, many volumes of community history were published, and most contained biographical sketches of individual citizens.  Whether you find biosketchs about direct ancestors or about close relatives, you can find invaluable insights about your family members and their lives.  Remember, though, that published works can have errors, just a census records and other sources do.

One example of the biographical narrative published as part of a community history is the story of Isaac Sharp and his wife Mary (Woolverton) Sharp of McNarlins Run, Waynesburgh, Greene County, Pennsylvania. The biosketch offers a look at Isaac and Mary’s lives as well as their many children.

Unfortunately, it gives incorrect information about some of the daughters’ spouses. In particular, daughter Rebecca married David Conger, not Ephriam Corwin. See the clarification, based on Conger genealogy records and family letters.

Still, to learn that Isaac’s parents were Scotch-Irish, and that Isaac’s own career was as a teacher and surveyor, adds immensely to the family story.

Another book that helped me, although with a different branch of the family, was I Was Born in America: The Memoirs of William George Bruce. William was the oldest brother of one of my great-grandfathers. Thus the sections of the book about his parents and about his and his siblings’ childhoods in early day Milwaukee provide wonderful insights about my own ancestors.

To help me and others interested in this period of Milwaukee history, I created an index to this book of memoirs that mentions many well known people of Milwaukee in this era as well as family members.  A fine genealogy Web site for Milwaukee — Links to the Past/Milwaukee — has posted that memoirs index online.

Fortunately, twelve chapters of his memoirs were published in the 1930s in the Wisconsin Magazine of History, from the Wisconsin Historical Society. And today, WHS has digitized its magazine back issues and put them online. Thus, I can reread his descriptions  in Chapters I and II of growing up in the intensely German neighborhood just to the east of the Milwaukee River.  Or view again the photograph of his parents, Augustus F. Bruce and Apollonia Becker Bruce, and read a bit of their story. All twelve chapters are listed on the William George Bruce Web page that I created.

You can use the WorldCat or world library catalogue to search for books about your family lines, and then you can use the free or low cost Interlibrary Loan Service to bring the volume to you for reading.  Don’t miss this great method for finding family for free.

This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research ideas to help you find your family and ancestors for modest or no cost.

Published in: on February 11, 2007 at 9:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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