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Archive for May, 2012

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My Photo “Studio”

So a couple of weeks ago, all this arrived on my doorstep.

I want to photograph quilts, people, dogs, still life, etc. and to do that I need a lighting setup. I don’t have an official studio and I can’t imagine that I ever will. And I’m ok with that. It’s not like I’m a professional or anything.

My living room doesn’t have any actual living going on in it, unless you count that the old recliner is one of the dog’s favorite retreats. I do have a new decorating plan in mind for this room, but not while Joey is still around. He’s too hard on new furniture. We lived many years in this house without any furniture in there and when we finally were able to redecorate the family room, the old furniture got moved into the living room. Now I’m thinking it would be nice to have Salvation Army come get the old stuff so that there would be more room for the “photography studio.” That idea wouldn’t sit well with my better half, so I’ll just have to make do.

I asked my friend Jeff to come over and help me place the lights. He loaned me his light meter and showed me how to use it. We put foam board on the floor to help reflect light back up onto the quilt when we discovered through test shots that without it the bottom of the quilt had some shadow. Jeff set up some “blinders” on either side of the lens to help eliminate flare. He said a lens hood would accomplish the same thing and I have one of those on order, need one anyway. These stands were borrowed and I don’t want to buy any more unless I really need them.

It can all be packed away when not in use. And visitors will be none the wiser.

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Just wanted to show off a finally-completed project that I’m calling the Gratitude quilt. Gratitude to God for a friend’s recovery from cancer.

My quilt photography needs some improvement, because the wavy border looks rather lumpy around the edges in this photo. I promise you, all the waves are consistent and symmetrical. I used Electric Quilt to design it:

It’s the third quilt I’ve made from a pattern in Alex Anderson’s Start Quilting. I just love, love, love Irish Chain quilts and this pattern uses a single Irish Chain block paired with a Nine Patch.

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I haven’t talked about my obsession with family history on this blog much yet, if at all, but it’s only because I’ve yet to get organized enough to post stuff. I started my journey in 1989, when we had a relatively new first personal computer and didn’t know quite what to do with it. At the time, there was a magazine called “Family Computing” and in one issue there was a review of a genealogy program sold by the Mormon church (LDS) to anyone who wanted it for $35 (Personal Ancestral File). I couldn’t resist and purchased it right away. There’s just something about database management that appeals to me and that’s exactly what this program was (and still is). Of course, back in the ’80’s the program was only available in DOS and when the world went to a GUI interface, I abandoned PAF and moved to Family Treemaker. It took the Mormons longer to translate PAF into a graphical format but I was ready for something more advanced, anyway. I abandoned FTM a long time ago too and moved to the program I still use today, The Master Genealogist.

But the reason I’m posting today is because just this morning, I found something I’ve been searching for for 23 years: the German birthplace of my 2nd-great-grandparents, Simon and Maria Gertrude (Gertie) WEBER. If you are a veteran at this you know that German vital records were kept at the local level and you have to know the town your ancestor was born in before you can search for records. Obviously, this is a problem when the name of that town is the information you need.

Back when Simon and Gertie came to Southwest Wisconsin (Grant County) in the early 1850’s, they didn’t contribute much to the local documentation. Most all the records I could find just said they were from Prussia. That’s like saying I’m from the U.S. I found Simon’s citizenship papers and nothing but Prussia, Prussia, Prussia. Same with census records. Same with church records if birthplace was even recorded. Same with his obituary. They left their oldest child behind with his grandparents and he came over when he was about 13, according to family legend. I followed Joseph throughout his life and again, his records only said Germany, Germany, Germany. Every document gave a different birthdate or age, like he didn’t even know when he was born. I can’t find any citizenship papers for him, even though every census that asked the question stated he’d been naturalized. (And I know the rules in the U.S. were such that minor children and wives were automatically naturalized when the husband/father was, but Simon waited until the 1880’s when Joseph was over 21. My presumption is that Joseph would have had to start the process himself. Indeed, the census records state that he was naturalized about 1875. But that could have been a big fat lie.)

I had a little bit of a breakthrough in the 1920 census for Joseph. It stated that his parents were from Rhineland. Yippee! That narrowed it down considerably, but again it’s like saying I’m from California. Joseph died in 1940, after social security was created but he was too old to apply. An SS-5 application form would have been a goldmine, I’m sure. Joseph had one son who had no children, so there the line died.

Back to this morning. I saw something on a blog post that prompted me to go to www.familysearch.org and look for another German ancestor. I didn’t find anything on that person, but I plugged in Simon’s name and VOILÁ, there he was. It was just so easy, it was crazy. I have searched the LDS records for Simon in all the years they’ve been online and he never came up. So somewhere along the way, this is new data.

This record gave me Simon’s parents’ names too, so I now know my 3rd-great-grandparents. I was able to get the same information on Gertie, so that’s another generation on her side, too.

My advice? NEVER GIVE UP

Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to live long enough to find this place. My goal when I started this journey was to find the birthplaces of my immigrant ancestors. I have accomplished that on my Dad’s HOFF and SCHMIEDER lines, and I got to visit those villages in 2003. I got to see the churches my ancestors probably worshipped in when they were young. Another cousin found the birthplace of our BACHMANN ancestor and that just leaves GRIMM. GRIMM was married to BACHMANN, so my assumption is that GRIMM had to have lived in the same general area, but so far we haven’t found where exactly. And no, neither GRIMM nor BACHMANN are in the records at familysearch. At least, not yet. NEVER GIVE UP!

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