Friday, February 20, 2015

Bran Muffins - Gramma's Webster's Spelling Recipe Book - Family Recipe Friday

Bran is the hard outer layers of any cereal grain -- rice, corn, wheat, oats, barley, millet -- and is the byproduct of milling grains to refine them .  When I buy bran at the store I don't believe it indicates which kind I'm buying, or maybe I always buy wheat bran and never noticed.  Bran is usually added to breads, muffins, and other baked goods.  It's healthy because it's high in dietary fiber and essential acids.  I believe the bran required for this recipe is raw bran, not a prepared, boxed bran cereal.
Bran Muffin Recipes

Bran  Muffins
1 cup bran.
1 cup Sour Milk
1   "   flour.
1 teaspoon soda.
3/4    "    Salt.
1/4 cup Sugar.
1 tablespoon Molasses
2       "      Shortening
1 egg.
Soak bran in
Sour milk while
getting other
ingredients ready.
Sift together flour,
Salt, Soda, Cream
Shortening.  Add
Sugar.  Add
beaten Egg.  Add
Molasses.  Add
flour +
milk alternately.

Gramma didn't include baking instructions but muffins usually bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.  These would probably be delicious with the addition of dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, or blueberries.

I think every cook and baker has a personal preference about how recipes are written.  (Or maybe it's just me?)  When I put this on a recipe card it will look like this:

Soak:                1 c. bran
in:                    1 c. sour milk while preparing ingredients below

Sift together:   1 c. flour
                        1 tsp. soda
                        3/4 tsp. salt

Cream:             2 tblsp. shortening
Add:                 1/4 c. sugar
                        1 egg, beaten
                        1 tblsp. molasses

Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk/bran mixture to the shortening mixture.

Pour into greased or paper-lined muffin tins.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Test for doneness with a toothpick.  (If it comes out clean, the muffins are done.)



Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Jefferson County, Ohio, Court Indexes Online - Tuesday's Tip

Do you have Jefferson County, Ohio, ancestors?  If so, there's help available for you.

That wonderful organization, the Jefferson County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, has been busy indexing.  Many files and records were saved when they were removed from the Jefferson County Courthouse and placed in the custory of the Jefferson County OGS.  Some records have been scanned and published on FamilySearch.  Recently indexes to two collections were published on the Jefferson County OGS website.

At FamilySearch you can browse Jefferson County Court Records, 1797-1974.  But better, first use Jefferson County OGS's Probate/Estate Index to help you determine whether your ancestor has a file and where it's located.  How much easier it is to know the location than to browse.

Use their Master Will Index to look for your ancestor's will.  Not all wills are included in this index because some are in the probate files and some in the Common Pleas files.  The wills are housed at the Jefferson County OGS office in Wintersville, Ohio.  You can contact them at P. O. Box 2367, 100 Fernwood Road, Wintersville, Ohio,43953; at; or by phone at 740-346-2820.  They have limited hours so check the website before you visit.  If you can't visit, I believe they will make copies for you.

I'm especially excited about the index to the probate and estate files.  I haven't been working on my Jefferson County ancestors lately but when I get back to them this will be one of the best helps I know when I'm looking for probate records.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Genealogy Research Aids - Genealogy Do-Over Week 5

I once asked my father which tools we should buy to be prepared for the repairs we might have to make on an (but new to us) house -- aside from the basic hammer, screwdrivers, and pliers.  He responded that it depended on the job we wanted to do.  He suggested that we buy the tools as we needed them for whatever job we had to do.  Otherwise, he said, we might buy tools that we'd never use.  That advice has served us well through the years.

My genealogy toolbox, like our physical toolbox, began with some essentials.
  • FamilySearch - for a variety of records with new content added often
  • Heritage Quest (available through many libraries at no cost) - for census records
  • Ancestry - for their variety of records with new content added frequently
  • Linkpendium - surname lists and state- and county-specific links by category

I've added to my toolbox over the years.  When I have a question about an ancestor, her geographic location, his employment, or anything else, I search for a source to help answer my question. 
  • Libraries' websites may offer obituary files, postcard files, city directories, newspapers, etc.  Libraries also have books, which continue to be useful!
  • Genealogy societies have their own websites which offer location-specific information.
  • Transcription forms for census and other records help me carefully evaluate what I find.
  • Map resources help me learn where an ancestor lived, see who his neighbors were, and how far he lived from town, a church, the school, etc.
  • Rootsweb county websites offer location-specific information.  Rootsweb offers a host of other helpful resources, too, including a variety of email lists specific to location, surname, occupation, etc.
  • Money changes value. I've found several websites that translate from one time to another.
  • And so many more.

Under the header of this blog are clickable links to pages (in either red or green, depending on whether you've clicked on them before):

Genealogy Research Aids      Ohio Resources      Pennsylvania Resources              

Many of my most-used online resources are listed there.  I have others bookmarked in my browser and a few in emails.

I'm not averse to acquiring physical tools that we might or probably will use when they're on sale new at a store, we see them at an auction, or someone is giving tools away.  Likewise, when someone recommends a site that I think may be helpful to me in the future, I copy the url for possible use.  After I've found it to be useful, I add the link to the appropriate page, above.  I know I'll be adding more resources in other categories.

My goal is to clean up and organize the resources that aren't on the pages above -- the ones that are scattered hither and yon as bookmarks, as emails, and jotted on paper.  (Either I'm slow or time is going faster than it used to because things take me so long to do.)

As a family historian/genealogist I never know what I'll want to learn next about an ancestor or where I'll find the information.  Having resources at my fingertips is such a blessing; even more so that new and helpful information continues to become available online.  I'm grateful to other bloggers who share research aids and websites they've found. 

Click on Genealogy Do-Over Week 5 or Genealogy Do-Over at bagtheweb to learn more and read what others have to say on the topic.  Thanks to Thomas MacEntee for initiating and hosting the Genealogy Do-Over.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My Father's Favorite Entertainer

To Durante, With Love, by Jim Bishop, 1974 My mother was a newspaper clipper.  If she liked a story, article, or poem, she clipped it.  If my father liked an article or cartoon, she clipped it.  When one of her children was mentioned in an article, she clipped it.  I found this article at right among my mother's papers, clipped because my father loved Jimmy Durante.

My father, Lee Doyle, grew up in rural Stoneboro, Pennsylvania, in the late teens and twenties.  His connection with the outside world was probably limited to interaction with other people, the newspaper, and a radio -- but the radio didn't arrive until sometime between October, 1927, when Dad was 14, and 1930.  Having a radio with access to music, news, and stories must have been exciting for him and the others in his family. 

Perhaps Dad became acquainted with Jimmy Durante while listening to the radio or maybe he saw one or more of his early films at a theater.  In the absence of Dad's childhood stories to tell me, I'll never know for sure  However it happened, Durante became one of my father's favorite entertainers.

I remember our family watching the Jimmy Durante show on the television set (as it was called then) when I was a child.  I remember his big nose and the nickname Schnozzola.  He had such a good sense of humor and never hesitated to highlight and laugh about his nose.  At the end of each program he walked off the stage saying, "Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are."  No one seemed to know for sure who Mrs. Calabash was.

As a youth Durante learned to play the piano.  In the mid-1920s he became a Vaudeville star, later a radio personality, a Broadway performer, and both a motion picture and television star.  "Inka Dinka Doo" became Durante's theme song but you may also remember "As Time Goes By" and "Make Someone Happy" in "Sleepless in Seattle."  You can read more about Jimmy Durante at his page on Wikipedia and elsewhere on the internet.

Today is Jimmy Durante's birthday.  He was born in 1893, 20 years before my father, whose birthday is February 27, 1913.  I thought it was a good day to share this article and to remember both Jimmy Durante and my father, Lee Doyle.  Thanks to my mom for being a clipper, thereby providing this connection to her, my father, and a happy childhood memory.

As I was previewing videos to share they reminded me how much fun some of the the old 1950s and 1960s variety shows were.  Perhaps you remember "The Ed Sullivan Show," "The Perry Como Show," and some of the others?  In the video below Durante, nearly 72, sings several songs and dances in one.  The video is about 8 minutes long but his first song is over in just a few minutes.  I hope you enjoy at least one.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Reevaluating My Research Log - Genealogy Do-Over / Do-Better

I've been reevaluating the format of my research log.  This is the one I currently use, created before I knew much about family history research and before so many sources were available online.  This is my Froman research log.

With one research log per surname, I've been using them to record letters I've written requesting documents that are not available online.  They've served that purpose well but with online research my logs have fallen short of the need.  (And I've fallen short in using them to record all the online searches I've done including what I've found, and especially what I've not found.)

I would not have thought about evaluating my research log except that it was one of the topics in the Genealogy Do-Over.  I've been looking at the ways others have created and organized their research logs. Here are some things I've found.

Earlier this year Diane Haddad of Family Tree Magazine wrote a post at Genealogy Insider about her research log.  Hers includes columns to record this information:  Status, Research Task, Repository/Site, Name, Place, Notes, Prep Work Needed, and Findings.  She keeps hers as a spreadsheet on Google Drive, which makes it available wherever she can connect to the internet.

The FamilySearch Wiki on Research Logs suggests recording this information in a log:  Ancestor's name and years; Researcher's name; Date of search; Place of research; Purpose (objective); Call number; Source Description; Scope of Your Search; Document Number; and Results.

In his post for Genealogy Do-Over Week 4, Thomas MacEntee indicated that he recorded the following information when tracking searches:  date of search; website; specific database; criteria of search (what he typed in the search box); results (with url); plus notes on the search and results including analysis or thoughts.

After reading about others' research logs and seeing the information they track, I think I'd like my research log to include
  • Date of search or request
  • Objective/Purpose of the search/Research Goal (the question I'm trying to answer, what I hope to find)
  • Where I searched or who I asked:  repository, courthouse, library, website including addresses and contact info for all
  • Specifics about search criteria (name, dates, and any other information used in the search)
  • Results (what I found or didn't find) and date if different from search date
  • Source (where I found the information with enough detail to let me return to the source easily)
  • Copy?  Do I now have a copy, either hard or computer image?
  • Next Possible Steps -- a to-do list, of sorts, based on what I found/didn't find (which I will also record in a separate To-Do list) 

My research logs are in tables in WordPerfect since I don't like spreadsheets.  I like having them there but I wonder if they may be less cumbersome to use if they are in a place like Evernote.  Colleen Greene wrote a post about her research log on Evernote which generated plenty of discussion in the comments section.  I will investigate further before completely changing my log to Evernote or any other online cloud storage system.  Evernote is currently free and available wherever I have access to a computer, but I know it may not always be so.  One can never depend on technology staying the same or continuing to be available for free in the future.

As an aside, I'd like to note that while I don't always use my research log for online searches I continue to save the results of searches plus all pertinent details (such as direct link, collection name, page and image numbers, and any other details I can find) by sending myself emails with the information.  It's very cumbersome.  Hence my need to become more serious about using a research log for all searches.

So, that's what I've been up to with my Genealogy Do-Over / Do-Better this past week.  I'm excited to create a new research log and begin using it.  Thanks to Thomas MacEntee for creating the Genealogy Do-Over.  Participating is showing me some of my shortcoming as a family history researcher.

Read more about the Genealogy Do-Over here at GeneaBloggers and here at bagtheweb.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Salid Dressing, Peach or Apple Pudding - Family Recipe Friday

The recipe for Salid [sic] Dressing calls for Eagle Brand Milk, generally known as Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk.  I wondered if that could help me date this recipe book.  It can't.  The company's website tells me that Eagle Brand Milk was first introduced in 1856 -- and my grandmother wasn't born until 1893.  Eagle Milk had been around almost 40 years by the time she was born. 

This recipe also calls for a raw egg, an ingredient most of us would shun these days for fear of salmonella.  The ingredients suggest to me that this is a mayonnaise type dressing that would be great for cole slaw (if only the egg were cooked).  Maybe salmonella was less of a problem a hundred years ago, before egg factories.

Salid Dressing.
1 can Eagle Brand
1 egg.
1 teaspoon Must-
1/2 cup Vinegar.
Beat egg well
add Mustard &
salt.  Mix well &
then add Eagle
Brand Milk &
then the Vinegar.

Peach or Apple Pudding
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg.
1/2 cup Suagr.
1/2 cup Sweet Milk.
1 cup flour
Fill a buttered dish
with sliced apples or
peaches & pour over
the top a batter
made of the above ingredients.

This is another page from my grandmother Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen's Webster's Spelling Tablet, probably a tablet with pages for taking spelling tests, unused and left by one of her daughters.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Never a Name Collector - Genealogy Do-Over / Do-Better

I've never been a "name collector," never one to search online trees to find an ancestor's name and then add all the information to my own tree.  I'm too possessive of my ancestors.  I think of them all as individual people and I want to claim the ones that really are in my family -- and I don't want to claim someone else's just because the names and dates seem to fit.

I know some folks think (one of my daughters, in particular, thinks) I'm too careful because it takes me a while to be sure.  It's not enough to have a name or a group of family names and ages in a location that seems right.  I want to find enough information that I don't have any doubts about whether the people in question are my ancestors.

I suppose this explains why I've been able to uncover direct-line ancestors to only the seventh generation on only two lines, and much less on most of my lines.  I patiently -- and possibly inefficiently -- search for and wade through potential ancestors and sources, collecting likely information until I have enough to feel confident of a relationship (or lack of a relationship).

When I find a person or family that seems to fit, I transcribe the information, note its source, and save the link, if found online, or if found at any other location such as a courthouse, library, in book, I record all information that will let me find the source again.  (Okay, to be honest, I didn't always note whether a census record came from HeritageQuest, FamilySearch, or Ancestry, but I do now.)  I add the information to a file with everything else I've found about the individual or family.  When I finally have enough documentation to conclude that the person is really related to me, I then add the person/people to RootsMagic.

Perhaps I'm missing an opportunity by not using online trees as suggestions or possibilities about ancestors and then just following up with my own research.  I hesitate because I know myself well enough to know it might seem too much like winning the lottery then finding that the money is fake.  (I don't play the lottery, either.)

On the other hand, I've saved myself the work of meandering down the wrong path only to have to begin research all over again in addition to trying to figure out which ancestors are mine and which aren't and what information is accurate and what isn't.  I think I would feel sorrowful to have to remove names from my family tree, imagining those people as someone's lost ancestors and wondering if their descendants would ever find them and care about them.  (Maybe it's nonsense but they are/were real people.)

Sometimes I have a vague desire that family history research went faster and I could claim thousands of ancestors already found, but I know careful research will help me better than speed with inaccuracy.

This post was prompted by Thomas MacEntee's post, Genealogy Do-Over – Week 5. . ., in which he mentioned being a name collector who didn't always cite his sources.

You can read more about the Genealogy Do-Over at Genealogy Do-Over at


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dad's Ads - Sepia Saturday

When I was a child my father's side business was repairing watches and clocks.   A few months ago I was searching the newspapers most local to Mineral Ridge, Ohio, and was pleased and surprised to see that he had advertized during the time his children were young.  There are probably more ads I haven't found yet.

I know my dad hoped the business would grow to become full-time employment but it never generated enough income to enable him to give us his regular employment.  As a part-time, second job he spent many hours working on clocks and watches that people brought to our home for repair.

In this ad from 1948 is interesting because of the phone number.  Within a decade Ohio Bell changed the numbering system and our number became OLympic 2-7979.

The Mineral Ridge Volunteer Fire Department held an annual festival that was the highlight of every summer.  The school's lawn was given over to rides, booths, games, and food.  The Ridge was canvassed for supporters who paid a sum to have their names included as sponsors of the Festival.  The ad below could almost be a directory of businesses in the Ridge in 1954. 

Until I was 10 or 12 my father had a sign on the side of our front porch and one at the top of our street, indicating the way toward our house.

The last ad is one he placed during the Christmas season one year after he'd made several grandmother and granddaughter clocks.  Looking at it now I find it strange that he included directions to our home but did not include a phone number -- which means that people could show up at any time on our front doorstep, asking to see the clocks.  (Of course, people appeared on our doorstep unannounced when they brought watches for repair.)

Dad was probably in his mid- to late-50s when he took up woodworking and began building clocks.  They were not only time-consuming but required much care and attention to detail.  He preferred making the grandmother clocks, probably because they were more substantial.  His favorite wood was cherry but he also used walnut.  He was an excellent craftsmen and they were beautiful.

The grandmother clocks stood about 6 feet tall.  The granddaughters were a foot or more shorter.  I once asked him if he would make a small clock for my husband and me.  We envisioned a clock that was small enough to lift and carry in two hands.  He envisioned a granddaughter clock and promptly told us they weren't worth his time to build.  When we explained further he agreed to make us a clock.  Of course we still have it -- and I need to take some photos of it.

I don't know how many grandmother/granddaughter clocks he made but he sold all but two of them.  He kept one for my mother and him to enjoy and gave one to my brother (I think).

This post is a contribution to Sepia Saturday #263.  After you've decided on your purchase here head over there to see what others are offering for sale.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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