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Linkpendium: The Best Genealogy Link Site That You’re Not Using

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Even in these days of Google, Bing, and search engine optimization, there’s still a place for a really good curated link site. Not only can they pull together the best-of-the-best, but they can also highlight the gems that otherwise would have remained hidden. For genealogy, my “go to” link site is Linkpendium.

Linkpendium has more than 10 million links to locality and surname site. It is the brainchild of Karen Isaacson and Brian (Wolf) Leverich, the founders of RootsWeb. (So, they’ve been doing this online genealogy thing for quite awhile!)

Linkpendium home page

Linkpendium home page

Locality Section

The site is arranged very logically. I recently started a project that took my research to Washington County, Pennsylvania. I clicked “Pennsylvania genealogy,” and then scrolled down and clicked “Washington County.” (I’ll also want to explore the page with the 882 “Statewide resources” for  Pennsylvania.) Here is a very small portion of what I found:


A very small section of the Washington County, Pennsylvania page on Linkpendium.


It has the usual suspects, such as databases on Ancestry and FamilySearch. But it also has those wonderful hidden resources that we’re always hoping to find. Things like “Telephone Directory of Bellaire, Bridgeport, Martins Ferry, St. Clairsville, Ohio, 1934” and “Livingston’s Law Register, 1851.” Sure, I might have found those in a Google search…  had I known they existed or thought to look for such a thing.

Surname Section

Be sure to go through the surname pages on Linkpendium. Not only do they have links to websites and blogs about specific surnames, but also links to sources you should be checking out anyway, like the RootsWeb mailing lists and WorldCat. It makes for a very convenient way to cover all of those bases.

Here’s part of the DeBolt page:

Part of the DeBolt page on Linkpendium.

Part of the DeBolt page on Linkpendium.

linkpendium-searchThe Genealogy Search Engine

As if having more than 10 million links wasn’t enough, Linkpendium also has a genealogy search engine that covers 2.6 million web pages. (Those aren’t just any ol’ web pages. Those are web pages that have genealogical information.) On the Linkpendium home page, click the link on the left side of the page that says “Try our new state-by-state search engines.” On other Linkpendium pages, look on the right side of the page.

You can search the entire United States or narrow it to just one state. Search by full names or just the surname.

  • Smith will find pages with Smith
  • John Smith will find pages with John OR Smith
  • “John Smith” (with the quotes) will find pages with John NEAR Smith (handy for pages that have something in between, like a middle name)
  • John -Smith finds pages with John, but NOT Smith

I have noticed that if you’re looking for two surnames on the same page, it’s best to do two searches: once with the quotes and once without.

Results for Debolt in Illinois

Results for Debolt in Illinois

Links sometimes die. The link above for the Labette County, Kansas history is no longer working. But I can see a saved version of the page by clicking on “cached.” Though the links on that page no longer work, I can see that there are several Debolts in History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901. I can go look for that book on Google Books and WorldCat.


A curated list of more than 10 million genealogy links should get our attention! Linkpendium provides genealogists with a convenient way to find sources applicable to their research. Even if you don’t use the link section of Linkpendium, run some searches in the search engine. You never know what you might turn up!

How Genealogy Is Like Decorating Easter Eggs

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When I was growing up, decorating eggs was my favorite part of Easter. Mom would get out a glass bowl and fill it with cold water. With a little bit of vegetable oil, the food coloring would float on top. (Science!) Add a few drops of red, blue, yellow, and green, and we had our own floating tie-dye pattern.

My sisters and I would take turns dipping the eggs. This wasn’t done willy-nilly. No, we had to examine the swirls on top of the water, maybe blow on it to mix up the colors a little bit more. We’d look at it from different angles, trying to figure out the very best place to submerge the egg.

Every now and then, an egg would turn out exactly how we envisioned it. But more often than not, we’d be surprised at how it ended up. Sometimes we would be pleasantly surprised… and sometimes not. Occasionally, there would be an egg that just wouldn’t turn out at all.

So it is with our genealogy.

We look at our ancestors and we start to dig into their lives, looking through the swirls of records they left behind. We often have ideas about what we’re going to find. We envision them living in a certain place, associating with certain people, engaging in certain activities.

Sometimes we’re right. Sometimes an ancestor will be exactly as we envisioned. But more often than not, we find something surprising. It can be a good surprise or bad surprise. And, occasionally, there are those ancestors that we can’t seem to “decorate” at all.

The afternoons spent coloring Easter eggs with my sisters are some of my favorite childhood memories. We’d laugh, we’d help each other, we’d bicker. Even though the eggs rarely turned out exactly as we envisioned, we enjoyed each other’s company and it was a lot of fun getting there.

Just like genealogy. Our ancestors are rarely exactly who we envision, but we feel more connected in the process. And we have a lot of fun getting there.


52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 13 Recap

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52ancestors-2015-13Week 13! Thirteen isn’t usually seen as a lucky number, but I think there’s a lot to be said for Week 13. It marks the 1/4 mark in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge!

Eileen Souza of Old Bones Genealogy wrote about her black sheep relative William T. Meisberger, who gave a lesson on why you should look at out-of-town newspapers. Caroll Budny of Trace Your Genealogy wrote about “Frisky! Alex Rusenko and Nervous Nellie.” You’ll want to see what was written on Alex’s border crossing record. Elizabeth Handler of From Maine to Kentucky wrote about how differences between spouses might account for the many divorces of her grandfather Charles Pyle.

The optional theme in Week 13 was “Different.” You could say that I followed the theme by doing something different. I didn’t write about anyone in my family tree. I might “catch up” next week…  or I might not. Remember — this is supposed to be a “low stress” challenge :)

Your Turn

Who did you write about last week? Also, while you’re waiting for the Easter Bunny to show up, take a look at the great writing from Week 12.


Upcoming Themes:

  • Week 14 (Apr 2 – 8) – Favorite Photo
  • Week 15 (Apr 9 – 15) – How Do You Spell That?
  • Week 16 (Apr 16 – 22) – Live Long
  • Week 17 (Apr 23 – 29) – Prosper

The April themes post has ideas for ways you might think about the optional weekly themes.

Relaunching Amy Johnson Crow Professional Genealogy Services

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I am happy to announce the relaunch of my website Amy Johnson Crow, Professional Genealogy Services at www.AmyJohnsonCrow.com.

If you’re in need of genealogical research, a speaker for your next event, or someone to tackle to job of writing your family’s history, I’m here to help.

What This Means for No Story Too Small

No Story Too Small is NOT going away. Neither is the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. I’ll be blogging over here like I’ve been doing. This is simply a relaunch of my website and a refocus on providing quality genealogical services to those who need them.

I will occasionally announce my upcoming events and other projects here. Don’t worry, though. This blog isn’t going to turn into a “sales-y” site.

If you have any questions or if you are in need of any of my genealogy services, please feel free to contact me.



Caring for Baby, 1916 Style

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our-babies-booklet-1916Fear is a great motivator for new parents. That’s probably what the Illinois State Board of Health was counting on in 1916 when they published “Our Babies: How To Keep Them Well and Happy – A Booklet for Mothers.” It’s filled with tips that were sure to scare most parents (not to mention scaring readers a century later!)

On Fresh Air:


On the Regularity of Feeding:


And if you ‘re not sure how much to feed your baby, they’ve included this handy chart:


On Registering Your Child’s Birth:

As a genealogist, I applaud Illinois’ push to get parents to record their child’s birth. But, good grief, talk about scare tactics! (Click the image to enlarge it. You’ll want to read every over-the-top caption.)


“The Young Man: I have no birth certificate. The lack of it has been the greatest handicap of my whole life.”

Wow. The only thing that would have made it better would be a panel showing genealogists a hundred years later spitting on his parents’ graves, cursing them for not registering his birth.

You can read “Our Babies: How to Keep Them Well and Happy” and all of its spine-chilling tips on Internet Archive.

52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 12 Recap

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52ancestors-2015-12March Madness is in full swing. If your bracket is like mine, let’s just say that there’s always next year. (I’ve long held a theory that genealogists like March Madness because the brackets look like ancestor charts.)

Hollie Ann Henke at Relativity wrote about Hugh Clark, her 4th-great-grandfather and fellow music lover. Andrea Kelleher of How Did I Get Here? My Amazing Genealogy Journey told about her 3rd-great-grandfather Jacob Kerr and how she’s sorting out the wheres and whens of his life. (I love the use of Google Earth!) Colleen Greene of Colleen & Jeff’s Roots shared the reason why she’s beginning the search for her biological mother. (Colleen — we all wish you well as you start that journey.)

The optional theme this week was “Same.” I featured the only other Amy in my database: Amy Skinner, daughter of my 4th-great-grandparents Robert and Elizabeth (Spencer) Skinner. The post is almost more about her minister and how he provided insight into Amy’s life.

Your Turn

Who did you write about this past week? Leave a comment with a link to your post and the name and a bit about the ancestor. (Cousin bait!) Also, take a look at the posts from Week 11. Reading some of those might help you forget about how poorly your bracket is doing.


Upcoming Themes:

  • Week 13 (Mar 26 – Apr 1) – Different
  • Week 14 (Apr 2 – 8) – Favorite Photo
  • Week 15 (Apr 9 – 15) – How Do You Spell That?
  • Week 16 (Apr 16 – 22) – Live Long
  • Week 17 (Apr 23 – 29) – Prosper

The April themes post has ideas for approaching the optional weekly themes.

How the Minister Gave Answers: Amy Skinner (52 Ancestors #12)

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It’s easy to focus solely on our relatives. After all, they’re the ones we’re trying to learn more about. However, sometimes we need to take a look at the others they associated with to get a better idea of their lives.

Amy Skinner was a daughter of my 4th-great-grandparents Robert and Elizabeth (Spencer) Skinner. She married William Yost in Perry County, Ohio on 18 January 1838.1)William Yost and Amy Skinner marriage, Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013, FamilySearch.org; digitized image of Perry County, Ohio marriage volume 1, page 246. Amy died in Perry County on 29 December 18862)Perry County, Ohio Death Records, Volume 1 (Junction City, OH: Perry County Chapter, OGS, 1986), p. 423. Note: her FindAGrave memorial lists the year as 1888; I’m inclined to believe the death record. and is buried in the Lutheran Reformed Cemetery in Thornville.3)Amy Skinner Yost, memorial 127790110, FindAGrave.com.

Her burial in the Lutheran Reformed Cemetery caught my eye. The Skinners were from a long line of Baptists. Amy’s parents, Robert and Elizabeth, are both buried in the Hopewell Baptist Church Cemetery. Amy’s brother William married Matilda Debolt, the daughter of Baptist minister George Debolt. So where does this tie to the Lutheran Church come in?

I re-examined her marriage record. Amy and William were married by Charles Hinkel, Minister of the Gospel. Time to do a little digging on Charles.

William Yost and Amy Skinner marriage record, Perry County, Ohio marriage volume 1, page 246.

William Yost and Amy Skinner marriage record, Perry County, Ohio marriage volume 1, page 246.

History of Perry County, Ohio by Clement L. Martzolff states, “This church [the Lutheran Church at Somerset] and most of the other Lutheran Churches in the county was served by Rev. Chas. Hinkle who is buried in the old cemetery.”4)Clement L. Martzolff, History of Perry County, Ohio (by the author, 1902), p. 100. Available on Internet Archive. So Amy’s connection to the Lutheran Church goes back at least to her marriage to William Yost.

This split with her parents’ religion didn’t seem to alienate her from the family, at least not officially. Amy was mentioned in her father’s will with the bequest that the daughters “share and share alike.”5)FamilySearch.org, Ohio Probate Records, 1789-1996, Robert Skinner will, Perry County probate case 559; Perry County Probate Court, New Lexington, Ohio. We’ll likely never know if there was tension in the family because she married a Lutheran. But taking a look at the minister who married Amy and William gives a little bit of insight into Amy’s life.

References   [ + ]

1. William Yost and Amy Skinner marriage, Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013, FamilySearch.org; digitized image of Perry County, Ohio marriage volume 1, page 246.
2. Perry County, Ohio Death Records, Volume 1 (Junction City, OH: Perry County Chapter, OGS, 1986), p. 423. Note: her FindAGrave memorial lists the year as 1888; I’m inclined to believe the death record.
3. Amy Skinner Yost, memorial 127790110, FindAGrave.com.
4. Clement L. Martzolff, History of Perry County, Ohio (by the author, 1902), p. 100. Available on Internet Archive.
5. FamilySearch.org, Ohio Probate Records, 1789-1996, Robert Skinner will, Perry County probate case 559; Perry County Probate Court, New Lexington, Ohio.

10 Ways Your Genealogy Society Might Be Driving Away Visitors

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There’s a secret about attendance at genealogy society meetings. It isn’t enough to get people in the door. You have to get them to come back.

Thumbs downI’ve been to a lot of genealogy society meetings over the years. I mean A LOT of meetings. Large societies, small societies, societies in the country and societies in the city. None of them have reported an overabundance of attendees at their regular meetings.

I’ll be honest. There have been times when I’ve sat in these meetings and thought, “You know, it’s no wonder only a handful of people come here regularly. Who would want to come back?”

Attendance is a recurring issue with some churches. Thom S. Rainer noticed this and did a Twitter survey about why people didn’t make return visits to a church. The top 10 list of responses sounded very familiar to me — and very applicable to genealogical societies. I have seen each of them happen in genealogy societies. I’ve adapted Dr. Rainer’s language and added my own commentary.

1. Having a stand up and greet one another time

Rainer reported that this response surprised him. It surprised me, too, until I thought about it. Think about a time when you’ve been introduced to a new group of people, such as being the new kid in class. Suddenly, all eyes are on you and you’re put on the spot. Who enjoys being in that position? My takeaway: Make people feel welcome without making them feel singled out.

2. Unfriendly members

Who wants to come back to a place where people ignore you or are rude to you?

3. Unsafe/unaccessible area

Rainer reported this as “unsafe or unclean children’s area,” which was a turn-off for attracting families with young children. For genealogy societies, we should evaluate if the meeting places are easily accessible and safe. Are there lots of stairs? Is the parking lot well-lit?  Accessibility could also be looked at in terms of meeting days and times. Is Monday at 3:00pm the most accessible time for people to attend?

4. No place to get information

Don’t assume that people know things like upcoming meetings, special events, or member benefits. Have a clearly-marked area where people can get this information.

5. Bad website

Don’t even get me started on this one. People might not even make it to your meeting if your society has a bad website. All of the basic info should be there, including the address and time of your meetings. I wish I had a dollar for every website that said something like “We meet the 2nd Tuesday of the month at the firehouse.” Uh, which firehouse? What time?

6. Poor signage

You know that the meeting room is up on the 2nd floor at the end of the hall, but new people might not. Make it as easy and painless as possible to find you.

7. Insider language

Don’t lose people with jargon. Rainer’s favorite example was: “The WMU will meet in the CLC in the room where the GAs usually meet.” I’ve heard similar examples at genealogy society meetings. “March 31 is the deadline for SAs for the CPF.” Huh?

8. Boring or bad meetings

Because who wants to come back if the meeting is boring? Do you really need to have an hour-long business meeting every time or do you do it because you’ve always done it that way?

9. Members telling guests that they were in their seat

Hard to believe this happens, but it does.

10. Dirty facilities

I’ve been to meeting spaces where the carpet stains appeared to be a few decades old. It doesn’t make for a welcoming experience.

We don’t like to think of things like clean rooms or unclear signs as keeping people from returning. We certainly don’t like to think of our members as being a source of frustration for new people. However, all of it has an impact.

It’s cliché to say that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. But you know what? It’s true. Take a good look around at your society. What first impression is it making?

Walking away

Are your first-time visitors walking away and not coming back?

52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 11 Recap

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52ancestors-2015-11There was a lot of green in this week’s posts. That’s not surprising, considering the optional theme was “Luck of the Irish.”

Some of the many posts that stood out to me this week include: Cheryl Biermann Hartley of My Search for the Past wrote about the lucky McGaughey family Bible. Patricia Rohn of Shaking the Tree wrote about her great-grand uncle Amandus Logue who worked on construction of the Panama Canal. (Cool name and a cool photo!) Melissa Wiseheart of A Wise Heart’s Journey wrote about Zerilda Eleanora Rakestraw Springer, who she calls “almost a ghost.”

Another post that I’d like to highlight is by Roberta Estes of DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy. Roberta said that doing the 52 Ancestors challenge got her to thinking about how her research has progressed over the years… and how she has 11 things she’d do differently.

My contribution this week was James Orr, one of my many ancestors with rather fuzzy Irish origins. No Famine immigrants for me — my Irish were already in North America by 1800, which makes it a bit challenging. (As if Irish research weren’t already challenging enough!) Ironically, within just a few hours of posting that, Ann Lamb left a comment with clues on where I might be able to find him. Thank you, Ann! It goes to show that writing about your ancestors really can help your research.


Upcoming Themes:

  • Week 12 (Mar 19 – 25) – Same
  • Week 13 (Mar 26 – Apr 1) – Different
  • April themes

James Orr: Possible Irish Connection (52 Ancestors #11)

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coat-of-arms-of-irelandConsidering my estimated 45% Irish DNA,1)AncestryDNA Ethnicity Estimate, 18 March 2015. you’d think that writing a post for “Luck of the Irish” would be a piece of cake (or a piece of Irish soda bread). Not the case. And, yes, I realize it’s just an estimate and that “Irish” DNA might not be specifically from the Emerald Isle. But good grief, 45%?! You’d think I have one line that just screams, “Hey! We’re Irish!!”

My challenge with identifying an Irish ancestor is that so many of them who supposedly came from there did so in the mid- to late-1700s. That’s not exactly an ideal time for finding records on either side of the pond. So there are lots of family histories and county histories saying “His father was from Ireland” with nothing to back it up.

Such is the case with James Orr, my 5th-great-grandfather. Correspondents and SAR applicants give his birth as “Ireland.” Sometimes they’re specific (sorta) and list it as “Northern Ireland.”

What I do know is that he married Mary Dale, probably in Maryland. They eventually moved to Fayette County, Pennsylvania, where James died circa 1815.2)Will Abstracts 1785-1815 Fayette County, Pennsylvania.

References   [ + ]

1. AncestryDNA Ethnicity Estimate, 18 March 2015.
2. Will Abstracts 1785-1815 Fayette County, Pennsylvania.