Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - The Name Game

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver!  Randy says:  Your mission, should you decide to accept it (where's my Mission Impossible music...drat, lost it), is:

This SNGF is based on the Baby Name Wizard at  

1)  Go to the Baby Name Wizard site and see how popular your name was over the 20th century, and how popular a baby name it is today.  Check out your spouse, your children and your grandchildren (if you have some!) also.  

2)  What does your name mean (find out on

3)  Tell us about it, and show us your graphs, in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, in a Facbook status or a Google+ Stream post.  

I was given the name Donna by my parents in 1942 at that time Donna ranked number 17 and peaked at number 10 in the 1950s.  In the 1970s it ranked number 64 and 208 in the 1980s.  In 2010 it was 984.

My husband was named David in 1939.  Then the name David ranked 11 and reached its peak in the 1970s at 2.  In the 1960s when we named our son David the name was ranked 5.  Our daughter Laura was named in the 1960s and her name ranked 16 and is currently at number 275.  Interestingly Laura was ranked at 21 in the 1880s before it dropped to 87 in the 1940's.  Wonder if the movie "Laura" played any part in that.

Our grandchildren are Aidan named in 1996 when it ranked 311 and currently at 94 after peaking at 40 in 2004.  Granddaughter Mackenzie was named in 1999 when her name was number 96 and it is currently 68.  Brigid was never in the top 1000 in any time period from the 1880s until 2011.  All of my grandchildren's names are spelling dependant.  There are other variants of each of their names which would change the ranking.

The most interesting part of this exercise is how popular Donna was a name.  Growing up I hated my name.  I always wanted to be Cathy, Judy, Patty, or one of those other "y" names.
The meaning of Donna that I was always aware of was Latin/Italian for lady, however in modern terminology it appers that Donna is also the feminine form of Donald (world ruler).  This makes sense as I am a first born and my father's name was Donald.

Thanks Randy this was fun and I learned a lot!  Sorry about the graphs or lack of but I couldn't figure out how to copy and paste them.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thanksgiving - Three Generations of Celebrations

As I spend the day watching my daughter and her family prepare for the Thanksgiving Feast, it brings to mind other celebrations of the day.

My parents celebration preparations began the day before Thanksgiving when the turkey came out of the fridge and took a bath in the kitchen sink.  While under cold water the pin feathers had to be removed.  It was a cold and tedious task.
Thursday morning the work began in earnest.  Potatoes and parsnips to peel, tables to set and decorate, and green bean and sweet potato casseroles to be made.  Aunt Kathy usually made the cranberry orange relish and Aunt Ruth brought a jello mold.  There were also glass dishes of olives and pickles as well as sides of spiced peaches and spiced apple rings.  Under my grandmother's chandelier our huge dining table was transformed into a banquet.  The chandelier traveled from my grandparents home to my parents home and later to my home.  It currently resides in my brother's home.  In addition to that massive table there was, of course, always a kids table.  Both tables were decorated with candles in the shape of Pilgrims, Indians, and turkeys.  We loved playing with the candles which were never lit but saved from year to year and later they appeared on many of my Thanksgiving tables.

With time these candles became scratched and nicked but they were still dearly loved and a part of our traditions.  Using the "good" china and silverware was also a tradition and helped to make the day special for everyone.  We were taught to use the best of everything to make our guests, be they family or friends, feel special and welcome.  My mother's green and gold china was a favorite of mine and I loved setting the table for the holidays.  Just imagine a huge table covered with a white damask tablecloth and set with gleaming silver and the green and gold china.  As children our eyes sparkled with anticipation,             

This china is still in the family as in the table it was placed on.  The table has been slightly altered since few people have need or space for a table that seats 10.  The table now lives in my son's home as a coffee table.
It is a large coffee table about 45 x 60.  Great size for doing puzzles and playing games.

Until we had children, my husband and I usually went to his family or mine for the holidays.  Sometimes both one for dinner and one for dessert.  But eventually we had our own home with a dining room and the coveted chandelier of my grandparents.  My dining table was not as large as my mother's but then I didn't have 9 children,  My table had seating for six and with the addition of 2 leaves could seat ten or 12.I didn't have Aunt Kathy or Aunt Ruth to bring their offerings, so I resorted to canned cranberry sauce.  I chilled the can, opened both ends to slide it out and sliced it to make it pretty.  My china was rose and silver and my tablecloth was cotton lace but the Pilgrim and Indian candles came to the party too.  We usually did about a 20 lb turkey but I usually did mine in a Nesco Roaster to save room in the oven for sides and rolls.  Our family tradition was that I always forgot the time and scorched the bottoms of the brown n serve rolls.  The last Thanksgiving we had as an entire family my kids had a $5.00 bet that I would burn the rolls.

Although they are not candles, Pilgrims and Indians still grace the table in my daughter's home.  They are making 2 smaller turkeys.  One in the oven and one in the smoker.  We will share the day with another military family and a single soldier.  The typical sides of green bean casserole and sweet potatoes with marshmallows will be present along with homemade cranberry orange relish and homemade rolls.  Mackenzie is doing the mashed potatoes while Brigid is making place favors.

I would say that through the generations there is more that is alike than there are things that are different.  Yet another blessing to be thankful for.

The Chair - A Thanksgiving Memory

The chair sat in the corner of the living room.  It wasn't a confy cozy chair so it wasn't used often, but it was a beautiful mahogany arm chair small in proportion and delicate without being dainty.  The seat was covered in a deep purple velvet.  Usually no one used the chair but that changed on Thanksgiving.  The chair was occupied by a lady named Lorraine.  I don't remember if we called her Aunt or not but we probably should have.  (She was almost 10 years older than my dad.)  Lorraine came for Thanksgiving almost every year in the 1950's.  She had short curly salt and pepper hair and usually wore a beige silk dress with a white lace collar.  She sat in the corner quietly waiting for dinner.  If you went over to talk to her she would discuss her hobby of collecting matchbooks.  She had an extensive collection which she would display in local libraries.  I never knew just how she was related to the family but it was enough that she was there.  It seemed almost that the chair was there just for her.

Much later, after I began doing genealogy, I discovered that she was my dad's cousin and a niece to my grandmother.  Lorraine Henrietta Burbach Gist was born in Febrary 1901 to George and Rose Schmitt Burbach in Milwaukee, WI.  She probably was married in Milwaukee to Mr Gist, and sometime after 1951 she moved to the Chicago area  and died there in 1985.  Sadly my father died in 1959 and his mother in 1960.  Unfortunately, we lost touch with that side of the family which only makes finding the details more difficult.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tech Tuesday: My Nook Tablet

Ruth of Ruth's Genealogy wrote recently about turning her IPad 2 into a lean mean genealogy machine and reading her post encouraged me to review how I use my Nook Color.

I purchased a Nook Color over a year ago after losing my original Nook while traveling.  Since I enjoyed using the Nook so much for reading, I decided to move to the Nook Color as a replacement.  I had also heard about using a N2A card to turn the Nook Color into an android tablet.  I got the Nook Color the day after I lost my original Nook and then I went online and ordered a N2A card. It took about 3 days for the card to come.

I've had the converted Nook Color for about a year now and I love using it for everything away from home.  I take it with when I go to the genealogy room at the library and when I go to a Family Search Center for research. The N2A card is the gingerbread version of android (v 2.3.7) and allows me to install android apps at little or no cost.  I have,  Families ( a mobile version of Legacy Family Tree) and My Heritage for genealogy.  I have also loaded the Kindle, BN, and Overdrive reader apps to I am never without a book.    I even downloaded the syllabus for the genealogy cruise I took last spring and was able to take notes and highlight the lectures.  For notes I use Evernote which syncs with my laptop and phone.  Using Dropbox and Google Docs lets me access all of my files and they are also synced automatically.  For printing I use the Google cloud app.  Supposedly with the google cloud app for printing I can print to my home printer from anywhere but I have yet to test that.  The only things missing from my tablet are a camera and a scanner but both of those are present on my android phone.  I have an entire traveling office that fits in my purse.  The extra bonus is that the Nook Color weighs less than a pound.

After a year I am not sorry I chose to go with a Nook Color and a N2A card to create my tablet.  Then the cost worked out to $300.00 now the same set-up would be less than $200.00.  The extra bonus is that if my nook color dies, I can just move theN2A card to a new nook color (currently $139.00)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Motivation Monday - Re-searching Your Research

Last week I received a message from someone who had a question about a member of my husbands family.  His aunt Hazel was something of a mystery and seemed to have disappeared from the face of the earth.  All I knew was that she had married Larry and had a daughter Sherry.  There was something that had been mentioned about her living in Florida and dying at a young age.  I had never really followed up on Hazel, Larry, and Sherry.  Last week's contact added to the mystery since it seems to reveal that Hazel was married in 1936 at the age of 16.  Her marriage license attests that she has her father's consent.  Interesting since her father was dead at the time!

All of this caused me to start looking at Hazel once again to see what else I could find out about her.  In the 1940 census, she is living with her mother and her martial status is listed as "Divorced".  At 20 in 1940.  I remember that my mother-in-law said that Hazel was learning to be a pilot during the 1940's so maybe there is a record of her receiving a private pilot license.

Find-a-Grave shows that Hazel E Drake b 1920 is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in De Soto County, Florida.  She died in 1955 which would certainly fit in with having died at a young age.  In the same cemetery there is buried a Lawrence W Drake b 1905 and died in 1977.  This would seem to support the reference to Florida that I had heard mentioned.  In family referenced it seemed that Larry either was a pilot or was a flying instructor during WWII.

Further research on Hazel indicates that Hazel Elizabeth Drake died Nov 1957 in De Soto County, FL.  Lawrence Wilson Drake died 3 June 1977 in Sarasota County, Florida.  This is according to the Florida Death Index 1877 - 1998.  Another mystery since her tombstone says she died in 1955 and the Florida Death Index says 1957.

The mysteries uncovered this past week are causing me to look again at what I have recorded for Hazel and Larry Drake and hopefully I will be able to flesh out their story more completely.  I have learned to look again at what I think I know.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sempsrott/Semsrott/Semsroth - Surname Saturday

My husband's grandmother Naomi's maiden name was Sempsrott.  At some point she had given my husband a family tree that covered the years from 1829, when his great great grandfather Frederich Albert Sempsrott was born in Germany, through 1947 when the trail ended.  After we retired to Florida in 1992, my husband came across the paperwork once more and we decided it was time to do something to document the family history.  It seems that their mother, Anna, feared they would be drafted into military service and so she put them on a ship bound for the United States.  Family legend reports that two brothers, Frederich Albert and Johann Heinrich were stowaways on a ship that left Berlin and they ended up in Cincinnati, Ohio.  From Cincinnati the two brothers traveled to southern Illinois settling in Jasper County.  At some point probably in the 1870s, Johann and his family moved to the Covington, Kentucky area while Frederich and his family remained to farm in Jasper County, Illinois.

This family is one of many which has variant spellings to challange the genealogist.  Some of the variations have included Simperoot, Samscrott, Samesroth, Sempsrote, Sompcrott, Semprote and Samsrott.  In Germany the name appears as Semsrott.  Some have traced the name back to Asendorf, Germany in 1583.  This is about the time Sweden invaded northern Germany.  If this is true could the Semsrotts be descendants of the Sammen (Swedes)?  Still working on this line as every spelling needs to be checked out.