Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Fairfield County, Ohio

Tuesday after NGS2012, I started a grand tour of cemeteries used by my Langel folks up in the Columbus area.  First up on the tour: Mt. Carmel Cemetery, on Basil-Western Road about a quarter mile west of Eversole.  It's pretty well hidden by trees if you're travelling west, so I didn't find it until I turned around and headed back east.  I didn't see a driveway or parking area, so I just pulled off the side of the road, ran over to the cemetery, and snapped a few quick pictures.

The two markers I was hunting here were the ones for David and Eliza (Behney) Langel, my GGG-grandparents, and Eliza and Elnora Langel, two of their daughters.  The stone for Eliza and Elnora presented a new mystery:

The death date for Eliza hasn't been finished!  My best guess is that Eliza was still alive when Elnora died in 1914; Eliza bought one stone for both of them and had this carving done.  The question is why the date wasn't updated when Eliza died.  Did the family (and mortuary) forget?  Seems unlikely.  Was there not enough money?  Perhaps she's not even buried there.  Perhaps she moved far enough away that her new neighbors or family didn't know about the old stone.  Or maybe she got married and is buried with her husband, under her married name?  As usual, one new piece of information creates as many questions as it answers...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Charles Langel, 6th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

It seems fitting that I'm spending Memorial Day looking into the military service of Charles Langel, my great-grandfather.  I found his cemetery marker during my trip to Ohio:

and look at that little marker stuck in the ground.  Here...let me get you a closer look:
Apparently, he served in the military.  I didn't know! has some more information.  He served in the Ohio National Guard for several years, and then joined the 6th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in 1898.  He was the captain of Company E during their stays in Tennessee and Georgia, and when they were to sent to Cuba for about 4 months.  Ancestry has a scanned "war album" of this year of active duty, which has lots of lovely information, but it is incredibly frustrating -- it's a picture book, but the scans of the pictures are all high contrast and, therefore, useless. I wish they would rescan in grayscale so we can see those pictures of camp kitchens and Thanksgiving dinner and the company prank!

Well, I'm off to order a pension file.  I also need to find out why we were sending soldiers to Cuba in 1898...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

NGS 2012 in the Rear View Mirror

I really like the idea of conferences.  I do.  What's not to like?  The chance to meet with others who share (and understand) your passion, listen to dozens of first class speakers on a dozens of interesting topics, check out all the interesting new products in a vendor hall, get special access to local museums or all sounds so good.

But, once I'm there...I'm reminded of all the reasons I don't like conferences.  The lousy and expensive food.  The uncomfortable chairs.  Sitting cheek by jowl in a lecture room and getting antsy from the heat, the lousy chair, and the elbow of the guy sitting next to me who doesn't seem to understand the idea of personal space.  Standing in lines.  But mostly, feeling like you're back in high school and there's an in-crowd and everyone else, and you are, of course, an everyone else.  The in-crowd was having insightful conversations and catching up with friends; everyone else was passively consuming lectures and drifting through the exhibit hall.

Some random specifics:

The FamilySearch blogger dinner.  Very cool -- a chance to meet other bloggers, meet some of the folks at FamilySearch, and hear about what they're up to.  It was a bit surreal to try to have a dinner conversation with someone who was guarding himself because he was "talking to the press" but I enjoyed hearing about how NARA is working on preserving the ocean of digital data being created every day.  Even walking back to the hotel was cool because I chatted with Cheri Daniels of Pastology.  This is what the conference experience is supposed to be like...and it was a very in-crowd, invitation-only thing that came from having a blog.

Any conference session that was being recorded.  Annoying.  If the session was being recorded, someone made an announcement that the audience was supposed to hold all questions until the end.  In a few sessions, this was disregarded, but mostly it was pretty chilling.  One speaker even announced that she was going to just read a few slides at us so the content would get into the recording.  I know that the recordings are useful to those who can't go to the conference, or who can't be in two sessions at once, but I didn't drive 12 hours and spend a fortune to sit quietly and not get to interact with the speakers.

And what's so bad about just holding questions to the end?  In practice, that meant no questions.  The speakers had apparently been told to get out to let the next speaker set up, so they were reluctant to take questions after the official time was up.  And the audience, having figured out that many of the sessions were either crowded or full, was practically running from one room to the next to stand in line for a seat.

The exhibit hall.  Mixed.  The FamilySearch, and 1940 Census booths had very helpful staffers, things to talk about, and were very welcoming. The ladies at the Oklahoma Genealogy Society made me wish I had relatives down there so I could do some research at their library. On the other hand, I had the misfortune to try to visit the booth of a software product I use while Dick Eastman was standing in the aisle; the guy working the booth was so desperate to be cool with Dick that I, apparently, didn't exist.  At a couple of other booths I visited, the staffers didn't even have the Dick Eastman excuse but still couldn't seem to figure out how to talk to me except to answer direct questions as briefly as possible.

The evening at the Cincinnati History Museum.  Awesome.  An amazing building.  Private access to the museum.  Good food and an interesting talk.  A real highlight of the week for me.  I hear the Slavery museum was really good, too, but I was so tired that night I collapsed in bed about 7pm.

Thomas Jones and Elizabeth Shown Mills. I made a point of going to one talk by each of them; I'd have gone to more, but people were getting turned away and I thought it would be selfish.  Mixed.  Both are excellent speakers, with very interesting things to present, but I went away a bit unsatisfied.  Partly because these were being recorded, so there was very little give and take with the audience.  Partly because they were presenting big ideas in little bites (ESM had clearly designed her talks to be a series on the FAN club, so going to just one was only giving you part of the story; this would have been awesome if there had been any realistic way to attend all of them.)  Partly because I'll never have the patience to work that hard to solve a genealogy problem <grin.>

Am I glad I went?  Yes.  Do I think I got more bang for my buck from the research half of my trip?  Yes.  Will I go again?  Maybe.  Should I be looking into the week-long genealogy institutes and guided research trips for the depth and personal touch I appear to want?  Definitely!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

NGS Census Fun

Indexing the 1940 census is even more fun in a group and with in-person tech support! I just finished indexing two batches of the census at the 1940 Census booth in the NGS 2012 conference exhibit hall, and it was really nice to be able to ask the person sitting next to me "is that an L or an F?". It was also nice to be able to raise my hand and ask an expert how to handle unusual situations...and even though I've indexed several batches, I still encounter things not included in the instructions. If you're at the conference, I suggest you take a shift at the booth even if you don't want the shirt.

I hope they announce at the end of the conference how many batches they think got indexed here...they've got a dozen computers and I have yet to pass the booth without seeing a line of indexers-to-be.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Census Status Orange!

Kansas is orange!  FamilySearch has posted the index for the 1940 census for Kansas!

Like I have time to spend on the census while getting ready for the NGS conference next week...