Online Research Checklist  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , ,

I asked for your help but nobody commented. So I had to come up with my own checklist. Here is what I am going to do when researching online:

1) First thing I need to do is figure out all the spelling variations. And the best method I came up with is to go to MyHeritage and use the MegaDex search tool that lists out all the possible spelling options for last names. Here's an easy one:

Here's a more detailed one:

I am obviously not going through all these alternate spellings, but at least I know where to look if I hit a dead end.

2) Paid Subscriptions. These are sites I have annual subscriptions and I will check them first for premium content. Obviously there are a lot of things I can look for in each one that don't overlap:

3) Free sites:
  • - They really have an outstanding research engine that goes through almost 1400 sites simultaneously. It's not always accurate but it will take you in directions you don't always expect.
  • - A lot of this content is now available on but I still like the simplicity of the site.
  • - I can still find some amazing nuggets here. I've been using the pilot site with great results lately and I can't wait for them to start digitizing everything.
4) Google:
  • General Google search - I'm still waiting for my "Google Your Family Tree" - Where is it?!?
  • Any other Google tools i will about from the book. Where is it?!?
5) Other resources:
That's all I have for now. Anyone agree/disagree? Any better ideas? I am open to suggestions.

SNC is Number 1 - WOW!!!  

Posted by Abba-Dad in ,

If you remember a few weeks ago I mentioned the amazing story of Straight No Chaser an a-capella group of 10 guys from Indiana University who were discovered by the president of Atlantic Records after seeing them on YouTube. Well, their album is number 1 for all music on Amazon and iTunes:

They sang at the White House, at a Green Bay Packers game and a bunch of TV shows. And they were on the Today Show this morning:

Their album is really terrific and if you don't have it yet - go out and buy it. You can also order it online and follow the band on their website:


A Rookie Mistake and an Amazing Story  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , , , , ,

I am embarrassed to say that I made one of the dumbest mistakes in my research so far. I guess I can blame my inexperience but that's really no excuse. What did I do? I didn't try enough spelling variations for Selena Bishop. I have seen her named spelled Selena, Selina, Celina, Alina and Salena. But only when I looked at the photo I took of the 1932 Atlanta City Directory did I decide to actually run some searches on Salena Brannon (her married name). And guess what I found? Her death certificate. Doh! So I ordered the death certificate through VitalChek and it should be here soon. I really hope it has her parents' names on it. That would crack open my biggest brick wall to date.

I really need to devise a research checklist and get organized. Does anyone have a good list? I know everyone has different tactics but I would love to hear some suggestions.

And now for a feel good story for the holiday season. Has anyone heard of Cliff Young? Well if you have or haven't, go read about this amazing athlete, who at the age of 61 ran his first ultra-marathon (543.7-mile (875-kilometer) endurance race from Sydney to Melbourne) and won! Here's the full story.

Saturday Night Fun  

Posted by Abba-Dad in ,

Randy Seaver has some fun things to do on a Saturday night. This week he asks us to answer these questions:

1) What day of the week were you born? Tell us how you found out.

2) What has happened in recorded history on your birth date (day and month)? Tell us how you found out, and list five events.

Here are my answers:

1) For some reason I have always known I was born on a Thursday. But I went to time and and created a calendar of 1970 to find the exact date. And I was right. Thursday it was.

2) It was a lot harder to find a good resource for this list of historical events. Eventually I went to Wikipedia's list of historical anniversaries. Here are the top 5 events/births/deaths (other than my birth):

This should make it pretty easy to figure out my birthday, right?

Who are you people?!?  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , , , , ,

This is my submission to the 9th edition of Smile for the Camera: Who are you? I really want to know!

Well this should be easy. I have boxes of photographs that I haven't even started scanning, where many of the subjects are complete unknowns. I have a hunch or two and some clues to get me started, but getting to the actual person is going to take a whole lot of digging. The hardest part about this challenge was trying to narrow down the photo selection. Let's get started shall we?

First up are two photos from a box I believe belonged to my wife's grandmother, Emily Anne. It's full of photographs of her and her family as well as many photos of and by her mother, Pattie Stone Tuggle who was a photographer herself (there are many photos stamped on the back with "Pattie T. Wiley"). These photos may be of Pattie's wedding and of her with two of her children:

The woman in both photos is obviously the same and since they were in the same photo binder I am going to conclude this as a fact. The binder also had the studio name (for the second photo): Leonard & Co. 57 1/2 Whitehall St. Atlanta, GA. I seem to remember that while going through the Atlanta City Directories I saw several entries for Whitehall St. so if I go through those again I may find out who this family is.

The next one is a complete unknown. It is also from Emily Anne's box and was in a glass frame, so it has some importance. It looks like a photo of a photo. I guess that by analyzing the pose and attire I can narrow down the range of years this was taken in, but I currently don't posses such knowledge. Handsome guy, whoever he is:

And here's the last one. This one is from my side of the family. It's one of the photos my mother brought with her on their most recent visit. According to my grandmother (who gave her the photo) this is possibly either one of her brothers or on of her uncles from Russia (location could be any one of several in East Europe). The large man in the center of the photo is the mystery. The way everyone is posed around him suggests he is the VIP in the photo. The woman on the bottom-right who is kneeling is holding his left hand tightly. And what's up with all those little flower bouquets on the floor? Is he wearing some sort of uniform? He's obviously not a golfer, but his facial tan line suggests he spends a lot of time outside and wears some sort of protective head gear. I would love to find out who this is:

Any ideas?

Ode to Emily Anne  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , , ,

While rummaging through the box of photos and documents I got from my brother-in-law at the end of our first family-history road-trip, I came across a stack of yellow pages with poems on them. I sorted them out and saw that they were dedicated to my wife's grandmother, Emily Anne Wiley, from her second husband, Wallace Brannon. These are beautiful poems and he signed them all as "---El Don Juan." I believe they are all original because I have not been able to find them anywhere else.

Some of them look like they were probably a draft version and several where actually mailed and received (there are some duplicates). You can see the way they were folded as the creases are still visible. The ones that were folded appear to be on a different kind of paper. This paper has a watermark that looks like the official seal of the United States. One of them has Emily Anne's handwritten date on the bottom, stating it was "Rec'd June 29th 1936 E.A.B." That would probably suggest that Wallace was courting her or in their first years of marriage. I don't have a lot of information on Emily Anne's second marriage yet, but Wallace was a career Air Force Officer and I believe E.A.B. stands for Edwards Air Base. I need to research this some more.

So after this long intro let me get to the point. I am going to publish these poems here from time to time (when I have time that is). I will add a new category called Poems so that you can easily find them if you want to read them all.

Here's the first one titled "Ode to Emily Anne":

When shades of night are falling;
When the peace of twilight descends,
My heart cries aloud for you, dearest,
And here is the message it sends:

"I love you, my little dear,
You bring joy to my heart;
There must be no substitute
When we are forced apart."

I want to be always near you,
Have you for my very own,
And I hope you will someday
Know what love I have known.

It's hard to say with words
The things you feel so acutely,
And it's hard to define the love
That descends upon you so mutely.

If we must try to be serious,
And see with the eyes of truth,
Then let's accept this sweet love
And let our hearts be soothed.

I want to steal away your heart,
And leave mine in return.
I wish you to know of the love
That in my heart does burn.
---El Don Juan

If anyone has knowledge of these poems' origins, I would really appreciate you letting me know the correct source. But for now I will assume they are the original works of Wallace H. Brannon.

Free PowerPoint Templates  

Posted by Abba-Dad in ,

I know some of the people reading this blog give lectures and presentations. Other's might just be casual users of PowerPoint. I found a terrific free bundle of PowerPoint templates from TechSmith, the makers of the outstanding Camtasia Studio, Snagit and others.

You should just head over there while they're still in a generous mood and download these free templates. Here's the link. And here are some examples:


Spores Theme:

Birch Trees:


Avraham Kilchevsky / Abraham Kielczewski  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , , , ,

I've been working with Jose Gutstein who maintains the excellent site in the past few weeks to try to find some of my ancestors in the region. I really have very little information to go on as far as my father's paternal side is concerned. Almost no documentation and very few photographs.

One of the things I have uncovered so far is a name of my grandfather's aunt, Leah Kielczewski, born about 1877 as well as the full name of my 2nd-great-grandmother, Zywa Golda Kielczewski (nee Krug). All I knew about her previously was that her name was Golda.

Another interesting thing to notice is the spelling change from Kielczewski to Kilchevsky. According to "Jewish Family Names and Their Origins: An Etymological Dictionary" (By Heinrich Walter Guggenheimer, Eva H. Guggenheimer, Published by KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 1992, ISBN 0881252972, 9780881252972, 882 pages) the name comes from one of the villages Kielczew (Siedlce, Kalisz):

By the way, I highly kind of (see UPDATE below) recommend this book for anyone doing Jewish Genealogy. You can view it on Google Books here.

UPDATE: One of the comments I got about my recommendation lead me to use Alexander Beider's books rather than Guggenheimer's. The only problem is that when I go to Google Books, only 2 of 9 books have a snippet view available and all others are not available. The nearest library holding these books is at UGA which is 65 miles away. So for now I'll just have to make do with what I can.

Jose added a beautiful page to his site with some information about my grandfather. Please go check it out here.

Thanks Jose!

Survived by his...  

Posted by Abba-Dad in , ,

One of my recently found potential cousins sent me this hilarious video of Alan King. Since it has some genealogical significance I decided to post it here for everyone's enjoyment.