November 30, 2011

Using LibraryThing for Genealogy

I love books. Besides reading for pleasure—something I don’t have nearly as much time as I’d like for—I have a growing collection of genealogy books. I’ve got hefty reference volumes, guides to particular states and time periods, books on German and Irish research, citation and standards manuals, family histories, and books on writing and editing. Now I don’t know about you, but my memory isn’t up to maintaining a running inventory of what I do or don’t have. How do I keep track of it all? LibraryThing.

LibraryThing allows each member to create his or her own personal library catalog. Here in one place, easily accessed from any computer or smartphone anywhere, I can see all my books at a glance. It came in especially handy in September in the Exhibit Hall of the FGS Conference, as I pondered whether I had already purchased a couple of books (or had I just thought about buying them before?) All I had to do was pull the website up on my phone and check my catalog.

Using LibraryThing is simple. You’ll need to create an account with a user name and password to get started. Once you’re in, just go to the “Add Books” tab and enter a title, author, or ISBN number. In most cases the book will pop up in the right-hand column, and you just select it. You can search for the book in the Library of Congress,, or LibraryThing’s own Overcat directory. You can also tag the book with descriptive keywords. My tags include citations, family histories, history, maps, methodology, photography, resources, standards, technology, and writing, among others.

Best of all, LibraryThing ( is free for accounts with up to 200 books. If your library exceeds that, you can choose an amount to contribute for a yearly or lifetime unlimited membership. You have the option of making your profile public or keeping it private.

There’s also a social networking aspect to LibraryThing, which I admit I haven’t used to its fullest. But it can be fun to see who has some of the same books as you do, and you might spot a title you want to check out on someone else’s list. You can make connections with other members, read or write book reviews, find recommendations, join groups, participate in forums, and more.

I’ve found that one key to using LibraryThing effectively is keeping it up-to-date. After spending the initial time to enter my books and tag them, I realized I had to make it a habit to do the same with each new purchase. So whenever I get a new book, I lay it beside my computer to remind me to enter it into my catalog. It doesn’t move until it’s in there. Works for me.

Now we’ll see if Santa delivers any new titles to add…

(Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with LibraryThing in any way. I just like using their free service and think others might, too.) 

Related Posts:
Social History Resources for Genealogists
My Favorite Genealogy Calculators 
Free Cemetery Databases

November 26, 2011

Names, Places, and Most Wanted Faces, Part 2: Surname Saturday

Last week I listed the surnames of my ancestors in the “Names, Places, and Most Wanted Faces” meme being circulated by Thomas MacEntee of Destination: Austin Family. This week I’m doing the same for my husband’s ancestors. The guidelines for participating in the meme, which is designed to help researchers and cousins make connections with each other, are:
  1. List your surnames in alphabetical order as follows:  [SURNAME]: State/province (county/subdivision), date range
  2. At the end, list your most wanted ancestor with details
  3. Leave a comment with a link to your post on Destination: Austin Family 
My husband’s ancestors came predominately from the United Kingdom—England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The early ones settled in New England for several generations before venturing westward to Ohio. Drum roll please for:

  • BARNUM:  Connecticut (Litchfield Co.) to 1800, Massachusetts (Berkshire Co.) 1795-1840 & Ohio (Portage Co.) 1835-1910
  • BAXTER:  Northern Ireland (Counties Antrim & Down) 1800-1930 & Ohio (Cuyahoga & Portage Co.) 1908-present
  • BEUM:  Ohio (Knox, Delaware, & Franklin Co.) 1800-1910
  • BISHOP:  Massachusetts (?) to 1840 & Ohio (Portage Co.) 1835-present
  • CARMICHAEL:  Northern Ireland (County Antrim) 1800-1930
  • CRITES:  Pennsylvania (Berks Co.) to 1840 & Ohio (Ashland & Fairfield Co.) 1830-1970
  • DICKEY:  Ireland (Castletown) 1800-1860, Ontario (Brampton) by 1860 & Ohio (Geauga & Portage Co.) 1880-1930
  • EVANS:  Wales (Montgomeryshire) 1700-1900 & Ohio (Franklin & Cuyahoga Co.) 1840-present
  • FLACK:  Northern Ireland (County Antrim) 1800-1930
  • HART:  Connecticut (Hartford Co.) to 1800, Massachusetts (Berkshire Co.) 1790-1850 & Ohio (Portage Co.) 1840-1900
  • IVES:  Connecticut (New Haven Co.) 1700-1810, New York (Onondaga Co.) 1800-1830 & Ohio (Ashland & Geauga Co.) 1825-1900
  • LOCKE:  Connecticut (Merrimack Co.) to 1850
  • LUCAS:  Ohio (Muskingham & Licking Co.) 1790-1890
  • MATTHEWS:  Connecticut (Hartford Co.) 1730-1810
  • PARKER:  Ontario, Canada (Brampton) by 1860 & Ohio (Geauga Co.) to 1930
  • SANBORN:  New Hampshire (Rockingham & Merrimack Co.) 1700-1850 & Ohio (Ashland Co.) 1835-1960
  • SMITH:  New Hampshire (Rockingham & Belknap Co.) 1730-1850 & Ohio (Ashland Co.) 1830-1920
  • TUTTLE:  Ohio (Holmes & Knox Co.) 1800-1930 

And now for the Most Wanted Ancestor:
  • The father of Fitch BISHOP. Fitch was born in August 1811, probably in Massachusetts. He married Sarah Ann BARNUM in 1835 in Sheffield, Berkshire Co., Mass. By 1840 they had settled in Portage Co., Ohio and started a family that would remain there for five generations. But who were Fitch’s parents? It’s possible that his given name was originally a family surname, so I have been looking for a BISHOP-FITCH marriage. One census record gave his birthplace as New York. Assuming Fitch was not dropped out of the sky by aliens, his parents must be waiting to be found somewhere.

If you’re researching any of the family lines listed above, I’d love to hear from you. It’s always great to make new connections and meet potential cousins. Please leave a comment below or email me at sbishop(at)aSenseofFamily(dot)com.

Related Posts:

November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to You and You and You...

Today I’m thankful for my family, my friends old and new, and the many blessings of health and home that I enjoy. I’m thankful too for the enthusiasm, camaraderie, and generosity I’ve found in the genealogical community, in person and online. And I’m thankful for you, my dear readers—for all your encouragement and continuing interest in the stories of my family history. I hope each of you has a Thanksgiving Day stuffed with blessings and the happiest of holiday seasons ahead!

November 19, 2011

Names, Places, and Most Wanted Faces 1: Surname Saturday

Thomas MacEntee has invited bloggers to post their “Names, Places, and Most Wanted Faces” for other researchers to see, and I’m happy to participate. You can read about how the meme started on Thomas’ blog, Destination: Austin Family. In a nutshell, here are the guidelines:

1. List your surnames in alphabetical order as follows:
    [SURNAME]: State/province (county/subdivision), date range
2. At the end, list your most wanted ancestor with details.
3. Leave a comment with a link to your post on Destination: Austin Family here.

Today I’m listing the names for my ancestors, with a similar post to follow on my husband’s ancestors. Drum roll please for: 
  • ADAMS:  Virginia (Prince William Co.) to 1840
  • BALLENGER:  Virginia (Fairfax & Fauquier Co.) to 1840 & Ohio (Athens, Delaware, & Franklin Co.) 1835-present
  • CLARK:  Ohio  (Delaware Co.) 1830-1970
  • COMFORT:  Pennsylvania  (Lehigh Co.) to 1900
  • DARST:  Virginia  (Shenandoah Co.) to 1820 & Ohio (Gallia Co.) 1800-1900
  • EBERHARD:  Pennsylvania (Lehigh Co.) to 1910 & Ohio (Logan & Delaware Co.) 1900-present
  • EDWARDS:  Ohio (Delaware Co.) 1850-1950
  • EISENHARD:  Pennsylvania  (Lehigh Co.) to 1900
  • FOX:  Pennsylvania & Virginia  (Shenandoah Co.) 1750-1800
  • HERREL:  Germany (Baden) to 1900 & Ohio (Hamilton & Franklin Co.) 1880-present
  • KING:  North Carolina (Surry Co.) 1720-1830 & Ohio (Gallia & Montgomery Co.) 1810-1970
  • ROUSH:  Germany (Darmstadt, Rhineland-Pfalz) to 1750, Pennsylvania 1730-1770, Virginia (Shenandoah Co.) 1740-1820, & Ohio (Gallia Co.) 1795-1900
  • SCHIEBEL:  Ohio  (Franklin Co.) 1880-1960
  • SEELY:  Indiana (Rush Co.) 1840-1870 & Ohio (Franklin Co.) 1860-1940
  • STEELE: West Virginia  (Mason Co.) 1825-1880 & Ohio (Meigs & Franklin Co.) 1850-present

 And now for my Most Wanted Ancestor:
  • The father of Charles BALLENGER. Charles was born about 1815, possibly in Fairfax County, Virginia. He married Elizabeth Jane ADAMS and moved to Athens County, Ohio by 1840, then to Delaware County, where he died on 19 October 1891. Charles served as administrator for the estate of James BALLENGER (c. 1816-1855) in Athens County, and was also a neighbor of William BALLENGER (born c.1818). Do these three share a common father or grandfather? The search continues.

If you’re researching any of the family lines listed above, I’d love to hear from you. It’s always great to make new connections and meet potential cousins. You can leave a comment below or email me at sbishop(at)aSenseofFamily(dot)com.

Related Posts:
Surname Saturday: Ballenger Family
Roush Family Ancestry: Surname Saturday
Names, Places, and Most Wanted Faces, Part 2: Surname Saturday

November 11, 2011

Thank You to a Special WWII Veteran

Today is a day set aside to honor all the men and women who have served our country over the years, and to let them know how much their service is appreciated. I’d like to extend a special thanks to my father-in-law, Robert Bishop, who served aboard the battleship USS New Jersey during World War II.

Robert Bishop, Musician 3rd Class, U.S. Navy

Nineteen-year-old Bob was drafted into the U.S. Naval Reserves for a two-year enlistment in December 1943. He was sent to boot camp for six snowy, bitter cold weeks in Great Lakes, Illinois. At the end, he was offered a choice between staying in the Reserves or joining the regular Navy for a six-year tour of duty as a musician. He chose the latter, and was sent to the Navy's school of music in Washington, D.C. His band shipped out a few weeks later, traveling on a jam-packed train to San Francisco, then boarding a troop ship bound for Pearl Harbor. The passage was so rough that he felt lucky to keep a Hershey bar down by the end of the week.

From Pearl Harbor, a tanker took them to Ulithi, a naval staging area in the western Pacific. Boarding the USS New Jersey, he found a hanging canvas bunk that would be his home for the next several months. Besides performing for official functions and occasional entertainment, the musicians had regular and combat duty assignments. Bob was usually stationed inside one of the turrets when the ship was idle. During battles, he helped load the 42mm anti-aircraft guns on the starboard side. The battleship gunners did their best to shoot Japanese planes out of the air before the bombs could hit the aircraft carriers and other nearby vessels. Bob saw action at the battles of Luzon, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Formosa, among others.

The New Jersey had to go into port for necessary repairs just before the war ended. Bob was enjoying some well-deserved R & R at the naval convalescent hospital in Sun Valley, Idaho, when the news came in. He received an honorable discharge on October 11, 1945, and returned home to his parents and sweetheart in Garrettsville, Ohio. He didn’t see his old battleship again until 65 years later, touring her where she rests in the Camden, New Jersey harbor and adding his signature to her veterans' wall.

Thank you, Dad. Hope you have a relaxing Veteran’s Day.

Related Posts:
In Honor of Veteran’s Day

November 1, 2011

A Big Game for the Big Day

Fall means football season in cities across America, and in Central Ohio, football means the Ohio State Buckeyes. And in that realm, there is no greater rivalry than the OSU-Michigan game, which traditionally ends the season each November. So what happens when you throw a wedding into the mix?

The story of my grandparents' wedding begins the year before, in the fall of 1934. With the country in the throes of the Great Depression, times were tough on the south side of Columbus. Wilma Steele’s family lived in a rented house in German Village, where her father worked in a glass factory. She had recently graduated from South High School and was working as a bookkeeper for White Castle, the first chain restaurant in the nation. Years later, she would recall:

Wilma Steele, 1935
 “Your grandfather and I met in the fall of 1934. My best friend, Jerry Jenkins, arranged a blind date for me. We met her friend Neil Palsgrove and Fred Herrel at Walgreen’s on State St., next to the Ohio Theater when the boys ushered. I thought he was cute and he thought the same about me.

“We would go to my Christian Endeavor meeting at South Church of Christ, and then sometimes go square dancing at Georgesville. I would meet him after he ushered and we would go to the midnight show and then to Clyde’s Diner… I had four brothers at that time and one sister. I would get so mad because my parents let them stay up late and we would have no privacy.”

Fred Herrel also lived in German Village, where his family made wood cabinets for commercial refrigerators. He was a couple of years older than Wilma, and had also graduated from South High, although they never dated in school. He, too, was living in a house full of brothers—three of them—and working two jobs didn’t leave him much spare time.

By fall 1935, Wilma turned 19 and Freddy was 21. They had been dating for a year, and were old enough in the eyes of the law to do what they wanted. And they wanted to get married. But weddings require money and parental approval, both of which were in short supply. So on November 23, 1935, Wilma and Fred eloped to Circleville, about 25 miles away. That day happened to be the day of the OSU-Michigan game, which was being played in Ann Arbor and broadcast on Columbus area radio stations. They didn’t pick the day with the game in mind, but the two events would be forever linked for them.

Wilma remembered, “We got married at the parsonage of the Methodist church in Circleville. That day was one of the most exciting Saturdays of my life. The minister was listening to the OSU football game and shut it off only long enough for us to say ‘I DO!’”

The newlyweds had a whole city to rejoice with. The Buckeyes beat the Wolverines 38-0, thereby tying Minnesota for the 1935 Big Ten conference title.

Fred & Wilma Herrel on their wedding day

Foregoing a honeymoon, the new Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Herrel quietly returned to their jobs and their own families. They kept their marriage a secret for six months, until they could get things in order for a life together. “We bought furniture and rented an apartment at 1486 Hunter Ave., and then announced our marriage in March 1936,” Wilma recalled. “Our dream for the future was to get a home of our own.”

Wilma and Fred went on to celebrate 66 anniversaries and follow the Buckeyes through 66 more matchups against Michigan. They were devoted fans the rest of their lives, and rarely missed a game on radio or TV. But none was more exciting than the one on their big day in November 1935.

Go Bucks!
Personal history and quotations: Grandmother’s Book (New York: Dellwood Books, 1984), filled out by Wilma Steele Herrel and presented to the author, Christmas 1989.
Ohio State football history:1935 Ohio State Buckeyes Football Team,” Wikipedia ( accessed 31 October 2011).

Related Posts:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...