27 April 2013

Who's in that Picture?

Most all genealogists can relate to this scenario.  About twenty-five years ago, I got in touch with one of my maternal grandfather's first cousins.  Florence was her name.  She was in her early 80s at this time.  By today's standards, she amazingly lived in the same house all of her life.  Also, her Holland-born grandfather, Henry Koreman, (my great great grandfather) also lived in the same house until his death in 1923 at 120 Morton Avenue.  This was in the South End of Albany in the vicinity of the area known as the "Beehive", centered around Morton Avenue and Catherine Street.  

Florence and her sister, Elisabeth, pulled out two very old family photo albums from the attic.  The albums were their grandfather's.  Considering their age, the albums were in excellent condition, practically brand new.  They contained upwards of 80 to 100 photos.  The photos were a mix of Tin-types, Carte-de-Visites, Cabinet cards, and Card mounts.  As I poured through this genealogical "Holy Grail" find, my heart rate increased dramatically and I believe my mouth was watering.  Unfortunately, my hopes all soon started to fade.  

Florence and Elizabeth could not name anyone who was in any of the photos.  Now what?  These girls and my grandfather were the oldest of that still living generation at the time.  Who could identify these people?  I took the albums home and photographed each photo with an excellent camera and zoom lens stationed on a tripod with black and white film.  Scanners make this process much easier today!  

As time went by, I was able to identify perhaps 20% of the individuals by comparing the photos with with pictures of relatives in my possession.  I also brought these copies to all of the older cousins,  No one could recognize anyone in these photos..  I was told that the last person who could have identified most of the people in the albums was my great grandfather's sister, Mary Koreman, who also lived in the same house on Morton Avenue.  Mary passed away in 1962.  Six years before I was born.

I soon realized that even today we (my family) are guilty of not writing the individual's name on the back of the photo.  As we look at present day photos of our immediate family, we obviously know these people.  But in 50 years or even 100 years, where will these pictures be and who will have them?  Since this "heartbreak" happened to me, I have made an attempt to write on the back of the photo who the individual/s are and have mentioned this to others about preserving the identity of their relatives for future generations.

An excellent example of a Tin type photo of an unknown relative.

Could this Carte-de-Visite photograph be of the same man in the above picture?  The photo was taken in Rondout, NY.

This mystery photo was acquired from a different cousin in the same family.  This image was approximately 3" by 3" and was on clear glass.  The above image was not visible until something dark was placed behind the glass.  The image without a dark background looked like a negative.  I am not 100% sure but I believe this may be a Ambotype from the 1850s.  Could the man from all three photos be the same person?

As I acquire copies/scans of old photos, when known, I always write on the the reverse who the individual/s are with a pencil.  This way I am preserving for future generations who these people are.

25 April 2013

May Cultural Events

As the warmer weather approaches here in the Capital District, here is a short list of some cultural events occurring during the month of May.  Details are listed below.  For more information please contact the venue/host, as event details can change anytime.

2013 Greek Festival

  • $3 Admission fee, Children under 12 Free
    • Includes free raffle ticket and commemorative booklet
    • Save a $1 buy discount tickets through Price Chopper Tickets to Go!
  • Rain or Shine – Indoor accommodations and large heated tent
Festival Features
  •  Continuous LIVE Greek Music & Greek dancers in traditional costumes
  •  Authentic Greek Restaurant featuring Gourmet Dining
  •  Greek Pastry Shop featuring homemade pastries
  •  Food Shops under the TENT
  •  Souvenir and Jewelry Shops
  •  Amusement Rides for young children – discount ticket with Advantage card
  •  Church Tours
  •  Free Parking and shuttle service

Check out their website at http://stsophia.net/events/2013-greek-festival/


May 31- June 2, 2013

The Capital District’s PolishFest is a celebration of Polish heritage – the food, music, art, language, customs and the culture of the Polish people. The annual Festival is held on the grounds of Blessed Virgin Mary of Czestochowa Church conveniently located at 250 Old Maxwell Rd., Latham, NY just off I-87.

The Festival features a vast array of favorite traditional Polish foods, including pierogi (stuffed dumplings), golabki (cabbage rolls), kielbasa (sausage), Bigos (hunter stew), Borscht (beet soup) and a huge assortment of gourmet Polish desserts lovingly prepared by our parishioners. Music and traditional Polish dances entertain festival-goers throughout the day.
Check out their website at http://www.polishfest-ny.org/index.html
$3 admission per day

20 April 2013

Van Rensselaer Family Plot in East Greenbush

Earlier today with warmer weather upon us, I decided to take a walk/hike to the original burial plot of the van Rensselaer family.  It is located in East Greenbush.  But it will not be found easily.  The only way to get there is to drive to Hayes Road (off Route 9J south to Castleton) & the railroad tracks.  At the tracks, you need to walk along the tracks for approximately 1 mile north and the small family plot will be found on the west side of the railroad tracks.

The plot is just off the tracks about 100' feet in and is surrounded by a wrought iron fence and gate.  I do not know if it is on private property or on property owned by the railroad.  There are many stones located within the fence.  Many are very hard to read.  I believe that many of these individuals have been re-interned at the family plot in Albany Rural Cemetery.

Some of the burials here include Killian van Rensselaer (died 1845), Gerrit van Rensselaer, Harriet S. van Rensselaer, Cornelius van Rensselaer, and Maria Genet wife of Cornelius.  Without undertaking any research I am assuming that Maria Genet is a relative of Citizen Genet (1763-1834) who was a prominent Greenbush resident who also lived in the vicinity of Hayes Road.

Citizen Genet home, Prospect Hill on Hayes Road in East Greenbush.  Could it be that this family burial plot was located on Genet's land?

Killian van Rensselaer grave stone.

Harriet S. van Rensselaer grave stone.

Maria Genet wife of Cornelius van Rensselaer.

A great summer project would be to find out who owns the property and contact them to ask if it is OK to clean up and restore this old family plot before it disappears.

07 April 2013

Upcoming ethnic/cultural events in the Capital District

To promote upcoming cultural & ethnic events in the Capital District, as I hear about them I will create advanced notice postings for them to help support their mission and their affair.

The German-American Club of Albany located at 32 Cherry Street off Fuller Road near Central Avenue will be hosting a Schnitzelfest next Saturday, April 13, 2013.  Details for the event are listed below from their webpage at http://www.germanamericanclubofalbany.com


On Saturday April 13, 2013, get your German on at the German-American Club with our Schnitzelfest. This month we feature live music from Paul Slusar. Doors open at 5:00 PM. Dinner served at 6:00 PM. Dinner choices are Pork or Chicken Schnitzel with Oven Roasted Potatoes and Red Cabbage. Cost $20/person. Salad and dessert included. Walk-ins are welcome for music and dancing at $6 per person. For reservations, please call 518.439.5932. All of our events are open to the public!

02 April 2013

Backing up your data!

Computers are obviously here to stay.  There are a thousand applications for them.  But we will focus on one.  They are great for the amateur and professional genealogist for entering and saving their hard found family data.  But after we enter our info in the computer via a genealogy software such as Family Tree Maker or The Master Genealogist what do you do next?

We always hear of the importance of backing up your data.  Well, I know first hand how important this is.  I was having numerous computer problems until recently.  After numerous so-called "fixes" my computer was not "fixed" and operating properly until the system was wiped clean and all software reloaded.  Yes, it was a pain but very necessary.  Had I not had "backups" of my data on CDs, DVDs, and thumb drives I might have lost 25 + years worth of genealogical information.  That would have been a true personal disaster and I could not have blamed anyone except myself.

Now to take this issue a step further.  OK, we are regularly backing up our data on the hard drive and also by any other method mentioned earlier.  Where are you storing the newly created backups? Throw in a major disaster such as fire, flood, hurricane, or even burglary at your home; now you may have lost your computer and ALSO your backups if they are located in the same area as the computer.

It is my belief that we should have multiple backups, one at your present location, and how about another one at work, and maybe an additional one at a family member's home?  You put a lot of time and effort into your research.  It only takes a few seconds to burn/copy your data.  Why not make another copy?  Simply, be absolutely sure that you do not loose your data.