Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Family Tree Maker: Relationship Calculator

You may already know about this one but for those who don't, this is a handy little tool in FTM that allows you to see the relationship between two people, which is especially useful if you have reason to want to know the relationship between two distantly related people in your tree and it's too complicated to work out yourself.

I recently I had reason to use this tool when I discovered that a half sister of one of my ancestors married the half brother of another one of my ancestors. Yeah, try working that one out. Instead, I let FTM do the thinking for me.

While in the "People" view, select "Tools" and then "Relationship Calculator", shown left.

If you've already selected one of the two individuals you want to include, they should already show up when the Relationship Calculator opens. Probably, the other individual will be the home person. It doesn't really matter because you can change both individuals once in the calculator.

Just click the icon immediately the right of the individual's name, the one that looks like a folder with lines on it. Then select the names you want include and then their relationship should show below the names with the "path" of their relationship displayed to the right. If your situation is like mine, where there is more than one relationship between two people, you can choose which one to view in the drop down box where it displays the relationship. You can also click on the button at the bottom of the window which says "View Relationship Chart" - I found this visual path display easier to follow. All of this is shown in the screen shot to the right. You can print the chart but unfortunately you can't save it (and trust me, I've tried recreating it in the "Publish" section with the Relationship Chart - no luck).

In this case, there was no blood relation between husband and wife but the relationship calculator is also very useful for cousin marriages and working out their degree of relation. In these cases, you will see a name or names listed under the section "Nearest common relative(s)" and around the bottom right there will be numbers for Civil Degree and Canon Degree which are the degrees of relation as defined by Civil Law and Canon Law.

By the way, the hardest thing about doing these FTM tutorials is making sure I haven't inadvertently displayed information about living people in my tree when taking the screen shots!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Antiques: Slot Machine

Mills Novelty Co. Skyscraper
1c slot machine, 1932.
One of my favorite things about family history is all the antique heirlooms that get passed down generations. I think my favorite of my family's is my grandmother's old slot machine. It was labelled Mills Novelty Co. so after a bit of online research, I discovered this model was made in 1932 and known as "Skyscraper", appropriately named after it's design. I could only find 5 cent versions of this online but ours is definitely a penny machine.

It came into our family when my great grandfather found it dumped by the side of a road, all the money having been stolen out of it. He took it home, fixed it up, and it's been in our family ever since. As a child, I spent many hours entertained by putting penny after penny in and pulling the handle. My grandmother kept a container of pennies just for us grandkids to use with the slot machine and I can remember begging her for more pennies when the cupful she'd first give me would run out. It's a miracle I didn't grow up to develop a gambling addiction! But I suppose it's different when you can open the machine and get all your money back.

Detail of the brand name.
It doesn't look in great condition but I think it just needs to be cleaned; it probably hasn't been used since I was a kid. It still works, though apparently sometimes it breaks and fortunately my uncle knows how to fix it.

Of the 5c versions of it I found on the internet, sometimes the black paint is blue instead. One of them sold for $1,200 in 2007, another is currently being sold for $2,100, and an ebay auction recently sold one for $1,278. Other auctions have starting bids around $400 but are estimated up to $5,200.

Does anyone know why I can't seem to find another 1c version of this model? Were they rarer? Older? Any additional information would be welcome!

What antique treasures have you inherited?

Thanks to my mom for the pictures!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Think Outside the Household

1850 US Census showing patriarch listed separately
from family household.
This is another one of those "how could I have missed this?" moments. Sometimes, I get so caught up in trying to find a family on a census that I forget to look for an individual on his or her own. Recently, I was reminded of this when I assumed a male ancestor died before the 1850 US Census was taken on June 1 because I had already found his wife and children living together but he was not listed among the household.

Land ownership map showing the
two properties of my ancestors.
In fact, he was still alive and recorded on the census, he was just listed separately. Why? Because, as I should have remembered, I had a land ownership map which proved he had owned two separate properties - one large, main one where I think the family was living and another, smaller lot not far away. My guess is that my ancestor was tending to the secondary property when the census taker came around. And sure enough, I found him listed on the very same census page, just two house away from his family! He was only listed by his initials, which is probably another reason why I overlooked him or why he wasn't showing up in any auto hints. I am unsure whether he was actually permanently living there or just there temporarily to tend to the secondary property but I lean towards the latter being the case.

This is also a reminder of why land ownership maps can be very important! Without it, I may have still been scratching my head as to why my ancestor was listed separately. I might have assumed he had a second property but without confirmation, the facts would have remained muddled.

1850 US Census showing son apprenticing in another
Also be sure to look for missing children with other households - a neighbor or relative may have taken in a child if the family didn't have enough living space (or financially couldn't support all their children) or if the child was actually helping out around the property of an older neighbor or relative or may have been apprenticing with the head of the household. I also thought a child of the same family may have died before 1850 but then I found him apprenticing as a blacksmith with another family.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Writing Your Family History

If you're thinking about writing your family history - or you've already started but need a nudge to pick it up again, check out The Family History Writing Challenge. This can help jump start your writing and offer support. It starts February 1st and runs for the month. Try not to get overwhelmed though - remember that you only have to take this as far as you want to.

For me, it will hopefully motivate me to update all my family histories. Since I already have most of them written up, I usually update them whenever I find new records or new information on an individual or branch. But lately, I got behind on my updates, so much so that I now can't remember what needs to be updated. This means I basically have to go through my whole tree and compare every branch to every corresponding family history and see what, if anything, needs to be added to the family history. It will probably be very time consuming, which is why I've been putting it off. So hopefully the challenge will motivate me to get this done.