November 16, 2014

Free Guide to Research at the Ohio History Center

Ohio History Center Columbus

If you have Ohio ancestors, you’ve probably wondered what you might be able to find about them at the Ohio History Center (OHC) in Columbus. The OHC Archives/Library holds many major collections of the Ohio History Connection (formerly Ohio Historical Society). It’s a key repository for anyone working on Ohio genealogy.

To help you get the most from the OHC Archives/Library website, or to aid you in planning a research trip, I’ve written a guide called Connecting With Your Ancestors at the Ohio History Center. It originally appeared as an article in the Summer 2014 issue of Ohio Genealogy News, published by the Ohio Genealogical Society.

I’m pleased to announce that the article is now available to view or download absolutely free on my website, Buckeye Family Trees.

Ohio History Center genealogy research room

The guide attempts to answer many questions you might have, such as:
  • What kinds of resources does the Archives/Library have?
  • How do I use the online catalog?
  • What do I need to know before visiting OHC?
  • What facilities do they have for researchers?
  • Can I bring my camera or scanner?
  • What if I can’t find what I need? 

To get your copy, just visit Buckeye Family Trees and select the “Free Guide to OHC” tab, or use this link: Click on the button to read, download, save, or print the article for your personal use.

Ohio History Center microfilm research

Staffed with friendly and knowledgeable archivists, OHC is one of my favorite places to do genealogy research. I hope you’ll find this a helpful tool in the search for your Ohio ancestors.


October 24, 2014

How Time Flies: Four Years and Counting

A certain milestone crept up on me this week while I wasn’t looking. Hard as it is for me to believe, it’s been four years since I published my first post here at A Sense of Family.

I remember how thrilled I was to get my first comments and followers. The idea that people out in cyberspace were actually reading what I wrote? Amazing! It still amazes me when I stop to think about it.

From the beginning, I found generous support from Thomas MacEntee’s community of Geneabloggers, from which treasured friendships have sprung. I learned about the ins and outs of genealogy blogging from Dear Myrtle, Randy Seaver, Tonia Kendrick, Caroline Pointer, and many others. Gradually I developed my voice, and before I knew it, I had a whole year under my belt. Turn around and it was two, then three years.

A big thanks to all those who dedicate their time to writing blogs about genealogy, family history, cemeteries, genealogy education, and family history writing. Your posts continually inspire and inform me. I really admire the talent found in our niche of the web.

Even though I haven’t been blogging as frequently lately, it’s no secret that I enjoy writing about my ancestors. This year I’ve been inspired by Amy Johnson Crow’s series, "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks," on No Story Too Small. I’m not going to make it anywhere close to 52, but I still count myself ahead—because let’s face it, any family story preserved is a victory.

I also like sharing news, resources, and tips that I think might interest you. It’s gratifying to be able to pass along some of the things I learn and discover, as well as events I’m excited about. I hope these things energize you to make discoveries of your own.

Whether you’ve read A Sense of Family a few times, a few months, or the whole four years, thanks for joining me on this journey. I’m grateful to each and every one of my readers—without you, I’d just be some crazy lady talking to myself about dead people all the time. Hope you’ll come along for act five.


October 22, 2014

Happy Campers at Boy Scouts Camp Ro-Fre-Lo, 1929: Wordless Wednesday

My grandfather, Freddy Herrel, is the fellow in the center of this troop of Boy Scouts (with his hands on his buddy’s shoulders). It looks like they’re having fun, doesn’t it? I love the wide-brimmed hats.

Fred dated the photo 1929 and labeled it “BSOA Camp Ro-Fre-Lo” in his scrapbook. He was 15 years old. It looks like the cabins are closed up for the winter, so the troop may have been there to help with the opening or closing. My guess is it was taken in November, March, or early April, because the trees are bare.

A Google search for Camp Ro-Fre-Lo didn’t give me any results, and I couldn’t identify it on this list of America’s Oldest Boy Scout Camps. Freddy lived in the German Village community of Columbus, Ohio, and his troopmates probably hailed from the same area. So I imagine the camp was in Ohio, Kentucky, or western Pennsylvania. The name he gave may be short for a longer one. Does anyone know where this camp might have been?


September 30, 2014

One Lovely Blog Award

September just flew by, didn’t it? I haven’t had a lot of opportunities for blogging, but I can’t let the month slip away without saying a big thank you to three special people. Each of them were kind enough to nominate me for the One Lovely Blog Award that’s making the rounds these days.

The first nomination came from Cheri Hudson Passey, who writes Carolina Girl Genealogy. Cheri shares about researching her Southern roots. I was amazed to learn she has eleven children. (And I thought I was busy…)

I also received nominations from Fran Ellsworth, author of Branching Out Through the Years, and Linda Stufflebean, who blogs at Empty Branches on the Family Tree. Fran has six children, 25 grandchildren, and three blogs. Wow. Linda was a special education teacher, which means she’s touched countless lives. She’s a relatively new genealogy blogger, and doing a great job with it.

Thank you, ladies! It means a lot to me to have such dedicated and enthusiastic readers.

The terms of the award are:
1. Thank the person(s) who nominated you.
2. Share seven things about yourself.
3. Name 15 bloggers you admire (or as many as you can think of).
4. Contact those bloggers to let them know you’ve tagged them for the One Lovely Blog Award.

So…here’s seven things about me:
  • I have three children—two girls and a boy
  • My favorite TV shows are Castle, Parks & Rec, Mad Men, and Downton Abbey
  • I was editor of my college newspaper
  • I enjoy snow skiing, but don’t get as many chances as I’d like (Ohio isn’t exactly known for its high elevations)
  • I made my first hand-drawn lineage chart at age 14
  • Reading is one of my favorite pastimes. I recently finished (and recommend) Fannie Flagg’s The All-Girls’ Filling Station's Last Reunion
  • In any situation, I know exactly the right response to “O-H…”

Many of the bloggers I follow have already been tapped for the award, so I’ll try to avoid repetition if possible. Here are my nominations, in alphabetical order:

Carolina Family Roots: Charlie Purvis
Family History Fun: Susan Donaldson
Family Matters: Kathy Reed
Genealogy Circle: Cindy Freed
Jenealogy: Jennifer Alford
Karen’s Chatt: Karen Miller Bennett
Random Relatives: Diana Richie
Yvonne’s Genealogy Blog: Yvonne Demoskoff

This really goes out to everyone who makes the time and effort to write stories about their ancestors, tell us about resources and tips for doing family history research, and keep us informed about technology and genealogy news. Keep up the good work, all you lovely bloggers!


September 26, 2014

German Genealogist Baerbel Johnson Coming to Columbus

Baerbel Johnson, International Reference Desk Consultant at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, is an expert at finding German genealogical records and online resources. That’s why I’m excited she’ll be the featured speaker at the Ohio Chapter Palatines to America fall seminar.

The seminar, Understanding Ancestors’ Occupations and New German Digital Libraries, will be held Saturday, October 11, 2014, at Der Dutchman Restaurant in Plain City, Ohio.

Baerbel will be giving four presentations. Here’s the schedule for the day:

9:00 am:      Registration & morning refreshments (including homemade 
                            doughnuts from Der Dutchman’s bakery)
9:30 am:      “How the Internet Can Help Your German Research”
11:00 am:    “Our German Ancestors and Their Occupations”
12:00 pm:    Lunch—Der Dutchman’s broasted chicken and roast beef buffet
1:15 pm:      “German Digital Libraries—A Digital Goldmine”
2:30 pm:      “German Research: Connecting People with Places”

Attendees will have time to browse various book and information tables between sessions, and enter a drawing for a number of door prizes.

Born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and raised in neighboring Offenbach, Baerbel emigrated to the U.S. in 1974, settling in Provo, Utah. Motivated by the difficulties of researching her own genealogy, she took classes and earned a degree in 1982 from Brigham Young University in Sociology and Family and Local History Studies. After raising her family and then working as a professional researcher, Baerbel accepted a position as Reference Consultant on the International floor of the Family History Library. She also teaches at the Family History Library and at various family history conferences. As such, she is knowledgeable about the newest research resources in Germany. Her motto to other researchers is “Never, never give up.”

Registration for the full day, including the hot buffet lunch, is only $59 (or $49 for Pal Am members). A special student rate of $20 is also available. You can register online at, or print off the registration form and mail it in. 

This seminar offers a great opportunity to learn more about your German ancestors and the resources for finding them. I know I’ll be there, so if you come, be sure to introduce yourself to me. Der Dutchman Restaurant is located at 445 Jefferson Avenue, U.S. Route 42, Plain City, Ohio 43064. For more information, visit the Ohio Chapter Palatines to America website.


September 4, 2014

The One Where I Feel Incredibly Honored

Last week I received some exciting news from the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE). ISFHWE encourages “excellence in writing and editorial standards in genealogical publishing,” and to promote that goal they host an annual Excellence-in-Writing Competition. I submitted entries in the “Columns” and “Published Articles” categories for this year’s contest. After I sent them in, I tried to put the whole thing out of my mind for awhile. That is, until this message from Tina Sansone, the competition coordinator, showed up in my inbox:

Dear Shelley,
Congratulations! You have won the following in the ISFHWE “Excellence in Writing” competition:
1st Place Columns: Shelley K. Bishop, “The Legacy of Mary Comfort Eberhard”
2nd Place Articles: Shelley K. Bishop, “Turning Forests into Farms: The George Clark Family of Licking and Delaware Counties, Ohio”

Woohoo! I’m thrilled, to say the least, and so honored to have won awards in two categories. A hearty congratulations to all the other award winners. As I look over the names on the ISFHWE announcement, I’m humbled to be in such great company.

Like many genealogists, I write primarily to share and preserve what I’ve learned from researching my ancestors. At the same time, I try to find universal themes within my family’s story that might strike a chord with a wider audience. But it’s hard to know if I’ve succeeded in doing that or not until something like this happens. When it does, it’s oh-so-rewarding.

"The Legacy of Mary Comfort Eberhard” first appeared here, as a post on A Sense of Family, on February 6, 2013. It grew out of my desire to share some of my grandmother’s stories about her mother, coupled with fascinating information I found in an old dairy company newsletter. Telling the stories of our female ancestors, who generally show up in fewer official records than men, can present special challenges. Digging into home sources such as letters, baby books, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and keepsakes—some of which may be held by other relatives—can lead to neat discoveries about their lives.

“Turning Forests into Farms: The George Clark Family of Licking and Delaware Counties, Ohio” was originally published in the Winter 2013 issue of the Ohio Genealogical Society Quarterly (Vol. 53, No. 4). It traces one branch of my family tree through four generations, beginning with their 1811 arrival in the Ohio frontier. Weaving information from early land office registers, deeds, vital records, agricultural censuses, newspapers, cemeteries, and other records together with social history sources like county histories, published memoirs, and maps, I show how the family’s growth echoed—and was tragically affected by—the times they lived in.

ISFHWE will be publishing all the articles they awarded prizes to in future issues of Columns, their quarterly newsletter. You can become a member and read them all for just $20. I know I’m looking forward to some excellent reading in the coming months.

Thank you to ISFHWE and its judges for this recognition. Thanks also to the Ohio Genealogical Society for publishing my work, and to all my blog readers. It’s a pleasure to be writing for you. Now, what story should I work on next?...


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