What I Use 2

Two years ago I listed the technology tools that aid in my genealogy hobby. I’ve decided to update the list.

Much hasn’t change. What has changed is that I’m no longer using Microsoft Windows. Family Tree Maker is available on the Mac, so that is my software of choice. I’ve also stopped using a video camera and am using a digital camera and an iPhone for HD video.

Here is my list:

* Hardware: MacBook Pro 15 in. running OSX Mountain Lion and Mac Pro running OS X Lion
* External storage: Portable hard drive
* Online Storage and Backup: Carbonite, Flickr, DropBox, Google Docs
* All-In-One Printer: Canon Pixma MP990
* Scanners: Canon CanoScan 8800F, Canon CanoScan LiDE 500F
* Cameras: Canon Digital Rebel XTi, iPhone, Canon PowerShot SX230
* GPS: Garmin Nuvi 200
* Web Browser: Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome
* Blogging Software: WordPress, tumblr
* Web Development Software: Dreamweaver
* FTP Client: FileZilla
* RSS Aggregator: Google Reader
* Graphics: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator
* Screen Capture: Grab
* Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram
* Other Communication: Facetime, Skype
* URL Shortener: bit.ly
* Office suite: Microsoft Office, Google Docs
* E-mail: Yahoo Mail, Gmail
* Calendar: Google Calendar syncing to iCal and iPhone
* PDF generator: Adobe Acrobat
* Genealogy Database: Family Tree Maker, The Next Generation, Ancestry.com, FamViewer

Wondering about Martha Lane

We have a weekly event at work called Reminiscing Thursday. Our seniors are invited to bring something from their past to share. There isn’t an agenda, and we have no idea where the discussions will lead. Since I am the ringleader, the pressure is on for me to bring something interesting each week. Even though I have a lot to choose from, I’m usually searching around the night before for that perfect item.

This week was more of the same, I was searching through a couple of boxes and came across a school register for my wife’s grandmother. It’s called the Welch’s System of Classification, Gradation and Close Supervision. Zella (McConnell) LeVan attended a one room school house in Kalamo Twp., Eaton Co., MI. This register shows the group of students as they proceed from one year to the next “to each succeeding teacher”. It contains class curriculum, as well as grades and teachers notes for each student.

Zella grew up to be a teacher. She taught in Charlotte, MI. I’m not exactly sure how she obtained this book. In 1913, Zella was in the 5th grade at Hinkley School. That school year is on the first page of the register, and it ends with the year 1920.  It may have been her love of teaching that prompted someone to give the register to her.


That year, Hinckley School had 19 total students in grades 1 through 8. Five of Zella’s  classmates were her cousins from nearby farms. Her teacher that year was Martha A. Lane. An interesting side note is that in each succeeding school year in the book, there was a different teacher.

Hinckley School with Martha Lane and her class – 1913/1914

As I was finding this register in the box, I also came across a formal portrait of Martha Lane. On the back of the picture holder Zella wrote , “Martha Lane. Our Hinckley teacher when I was 9 years old, in the 5th grade. Obviously she was a favorite teacher and a special person in Zella’s life. She may have even inspired her to become a teacher.

Martha Lane – c.1913

I wondered about Martha Lane. What had become of her? Where did she go after that one year at the Hinckley School? Was someone that mentored Grandma as she began her own teaching career?

I looked her up on Ancestry.com. Luck would have it, I found her. And, there was another picture. And there was something unexpected – a death date of April 7, 1919. According to Ancestry, Martha was born on January 27, 1894. This would have made her only 19 when she began teaching school that year at Hinckley. She also married a man named Victor Schinkez.

So, what had happened? How did she die? There is a great repository of Michigan death records called Seeking Michigan. I searched and up came her death certificate. She had died of tuberculosis at the age of 25. Martha is buried in Maple Hill Cemetery in Charlotte, MI.

I wish Grandma was still alive to ask more about Martha Lane.

Zella would have been only 15 when Martha passed away.

Today’s Tidbit | WWII Ration Book

This is my grandma’s War Ration Book No 3.

Four different series of war ration books were issued. “Book No. 3″ series books were issued in October of 1943. Each ration stamp has a  drawing of an airplane, gun, tank, aircraft carrier, ear of wheat, or fruit, etc. and a serial number. My book is missing a couple of pages and only contains stamps with the airplane, aircraft carrier, tank and artillery. Rationing ended in 1946.

Much more on rationing during WWII can be found here.

Asa Benjamin and the Revolutionary War

On May 4th, 1775, my 4th great grandfather enlisted in the Revolutionary War. Asa Benjamin joined at Worthington, MA. He served eight months as a private and was discharged on December 23, 1775. He re-enlisted and was discharged six times from first enlistment to his final discharge in 1781.

Asa was born in Preston, New London, CT in 1754. He descended from the Benjamin family that came to America with John Winthrop and the Great Puritan Migration in 1632.

It was during one of his re-enlistments that Benjamin transferred to Valley Forge, PA on March 19, 1778 and served in the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard protecting George Washington. The Guard was an elite group of soldiers who were chosen to protect against a surprise raid on Washington’s headquarters.

On March 11, 1776, General Washington issued the following orders:

“Head-Quarters, Cambridge March 11, 1776

The General is desirous of selecting a particular number of men as a guard for himself and baggage.  The Colonel or Commanding Officer of each of the established regiments, the artillery and riflemen excepted, will furnish him with four, that the number of wanted may be chosen out of them.  His Excellency depends upon the Colonels for good men, such as they can recommend for their sobriety, honesty and good behavior.  He wishes them to be from five feet eight inches to five feet ten inches, handsomely and well made, and as there is nothing in his eyes more desirable than cleanliness in a soldier, he desires that particular attention be made in the choice of such men as are clean and spruce.  They are to be at headquarters tomorrow precisely at 12 o’clock at noon, when the number wanted will be fixed upon.  The General neither wants them with uniforms nor arms, nor does he desire any man to be sent to him that is not perfectly willing or desirous of being in this Guard. – They should be drilled men.”

Commander in Chief Guard Flag

After serving for a few months in the Guard, Benjamin returned home to work on his farm. He soon re-enlisted and eventually earned the rank of lieutenant.

An historian talked to Asa’s great grandson, Reuben, who recalled having seen the old uniform that his ancestor had worn. “It was moth-eaten and worn and was hung in the barn. It was finally torn up as rags for some use around the farm. It may have been used in wiping off the spindles of the carriage when grease anew.”

Asa Benjamin and his family moved to Pierpont, Ashtabula Co., OH in 1811. He died on December 28, 1825 and is buried in the family plot in Pierpont’s  Hall Rd. (Sam Brown) Cemetery.

Benjamin Family Plot

Asa Benjamin Headstone