On Saturday, January 29, 2011 I conducted a beginning genealogy class at the Round Lake Area Library in Round Lake, IL. I had 18 people show up. They were all eager to start hunting for their ancestors. I think it went well and everyone seemed interested and asked questions through out the class. I love the questions because it reminds me of things I may have forgotten to mention. Many of the attendees told me they are looking forward to the next class February 26, 2011 on Beyond the Basics. I like to see so many people interested in their ancestors. I always ask why they want to do it. Most say they just want to know where they came from. Some say they want to be related to someone famous or royalty. I started because our family was small and I wanted more relatives. Not only has it connected me to the past and to history, but also with family I never knew I had. You never know where genealogy will lead you. I have found interesting tidbits about ancestors in wills, land records, obituaries, and newspaper articles. It has given me a peak into their lives beyond just dates. It brings them alive for me.
I kept emphasizing in my class on Saturday that this is not an easy process and that it takes time, patience, and persistence. It’s not as easy as Ancestry.com makes it look on their commercials. You may be very, very, lucky and find your family tree done by someone else, but that is rare. If you are lucky and find one done for you, check it out and make sure the dates are correct and it has documentation. Anyone can put anything on the Internet to Ancestry or Familysearch. You are going to have to do the leg work and go to libraries, archives, court houses, cemeteries, and churches just to name a few. I like the program Who Do You Think You Are, and someone in the class mentioned that he watched it and that made him want to start searching his ancestry. But once again they make it look easy. They don’t show you all the work that was done behind the scenes. The person walks into a library, the researcher opens a book and says, “Here is your ancestor.” It shows the researcher going to Ancestry.com and picking the person’s ancestor out of a census record. In reality they may have sifted threw hundreds of people with the same name to find the person’s ancestor. I think for some beginners the perception is that this will be done in a couple of months because of the program and the advertisement from Ancestry. Ancestry and all the other websites are good tools to use, but they are not end all. You need to actually get off the computer and search other places for ancestors.
Another thing I have found beginners have a hard time with is starting with themselves and working backwards. They want to skip over themselves, their parents, and go right to the grandparents or great grandparents. They come to the class looking for grandpa. When I ask them if they have their own records, and the records of their parents, the answer is usually, “no”. After explaining they have to start with themselves, they will still say, but I don’t know where grandpa lived so how do I find him on the census. So if they took anything away from Saturday’s Class I hope it is that this will not be easy, you will not find it all on the Internet, work backwards, and do not skip yourself.
My first car was a 1962 black Rambler Classic with red interior. It’s pictured in the 1967 snow storm in my blog “I walked 20 miles in two feet of snow.” Not a great picture since half the car is covered with snow. I looked for another picture, but could not find one. I bought it in used in 1966. My grandfather co-signed a loan for me to get it. That was the only car he would co-sign for at the time. I don’t remember the total price but I do remember my payments were $33.00 a month for 30 months. Doesn’t sound like much by today’s standards but I cleared about $40.00 a week back then. So it took almost one pay check a month to pay for it. It had a push button transmission. You pushed the drive button or the reverse button. No gear shift. Sometimes the buttons would fall in when you pushed them. This seemed to always happen when I was running late. I had to take the panel off with a screw driver and put the button back in place and then put the panel back on. I believe it was a six cylinder. I don’t remember much about the engine or what other mechanical workings. I don’t remember how many miles it got to a gallon of gas. It seemed like it did pretty good on gas.
In July of 1967 my mother, brother and I drove it to California. We had the car checked out by a mechanic before we left, but we still had some problems. It wanted to overheat in the mountains and crossing desert. The brakes went out in Long Beach, and we had to buy new tires in Arizona. Going to California we went through Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and to San Francisco, California We drove down the coast to Long Beach to stay with relatives. We came home through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and back to Villa Park, IL. The little Rambler with all its trouble got us there and home. There were places we went though where we did not see another soul for miles and miles. The express ways were spotty. There would be express way for a while and then it would stop and we would be back on a two lane highway again. We went though some mountain passes with hairpin curves, through the salt flats, and the Mohave desert. The car was not air-conditioned and the temperature in the desert was 120 degrees the day we drove though it. It never left us stranded anywhere.
It was a good little starter car for me. I had it about two years when I wanted something more flashy. My parents bought it from me, and I bought a 1965 Chevy Impala Convertible. My parents had the car for a few years after that.
As an older adult (senior citizen), I despise the snow and cold weather. As a child I loved the snow. I’m not sure exactly when my opinion of it changed. Maybe it the big snow storm of 1967. If your old enough and lived in the Chicago area in January of 1967 you may have your own memories of the big snow storm. I was working in Northlake, Illinois at GTE Automatic Electric at that time. I remember it was around 2 or 3 p.m. When someone said that there was a big semi stuck in the dock because of the snow. I was wondering how I was going to get home. If a big semi was stuck, how was my little car going to get out. A little later the company announced it was closing. This was an unusual move for AE. They had all kinds of rules and you better follow them and they rarely closed if ever. I went to my car and took one look and knew I wasn’t going anywhere. I had no snow shovel and the snow was already to my bumper. A lady I worked with lived nearby, and before I left she told me if I couldn’t get home to come to her house. I started walking down Railroad Avenue and I had a choice to walk all the way down to North Avenue and back up Westward Ho Drive to her house or go down a hill in two feet of snow to her backyard. I chose the latter. I had a dress on (women were not allowed to wear slacks to work back then) and my boots were knee-high. The snow was over the top of my boots. I got to her house and was very thankful that she had invited me. Several other people showed up too and that night was like a big slumber party. I had only been working there since August, and I really got to know my coworkers.
My Mother was stuck at her job in Elmhurst, Illinois for a while. I can’t remember how she got home because I usually picked her up on my way home from work. School let out early that day because of the snow. When my brother got home, no one was home so he went to the next door neighbors. My Father drove a truck for Burney Brothers Bakery that was located in Northlake also. He was in Chicago stuck in traffic. His truck then broke down. He called the plant but they could not get to him. He sat in the truck until the wee hours of the morning and then decided to walk or freeze to death in the truck. He started walking and walked to Northlake (around 20 miles) . He would stop at various places for food, coffee and to warm up. The snow storm was on Thursday January 26th, my father made it to Northlake around noon on Saturday January 28th. There were no cell phones back then so the only way he had of communicating with my mother was a pay phone. I was still at my coworkers house on Saturday. When my dad called home, my mom told him I was still in Northlake. He called me and told me to meet him on North Avenue. He was not going to attempt to drive down a side street. I walked to North Avenue and met my dad. We drove to our home in Villa Park about 6 miles. It was slow going but we finally got home. My mother and brother made some attempt at shoveling out but there was still a lot to do. Then my dad, mother, brother and I shoveled our driveway and side-walk. On Sunday January 29th we went back to get my car. We still had to shovel out my car. My aunt and uncle went with us and all of us shoveled. I could not get to work on Monday and on Tuesday North Avenue was still only one lane going each direction. I was late for work and my boss told me about it. When I told him it was because of the snow he said I should have planned better and left earlier, and the young people where I work think they have it bad now. I didn’t walk twenty miles in two feet of snow, but my father did.
My Car in the parking lot of Automatic Electric on January 29, 1967 (three days after storm)
Below are links to information about the snow storm. One has a video of a news report from 1967.
Lasting Effects of Snowstorm 1967
Winter of the Deep Snow
The Infamous Chicago Blizzard of 1967
I’ve noticed that quite often two or more ancestors are born on the same day generations apart.
January Birthdays (I’ve listed their ages in parenthesis and left the names of living people out).
January 1 — George Manfroid II (119)
January 4 — My son (36) and Mabel Manfroid (101)
January 5 — Arthur Manfroid (110)
January 19 — Theodore Manfroid (107)
January 20 — My granddaughter (13) and Anna Reinhardt (156)
January 26 — Hugo Kaiser (112)
January 28 — Augusta Desens (152)
January 30 == Bernard Van Lennip (130)
I had to start a new blog because hackers got into my Gmail account, Facebook page, and my blog. I was unable to get into any of them and eventually they were deleted by Gmail, Facebook, and Bloggers.com. I am starting over so please be patient as I will add items to this page as soon as I can.
I haven’t done much blogging in the past few months because I’ve had some health problems and have not felt like blogging. I am feeling better and will be starting again.
I am glad the holidays are over, and I can get back to my genealogy again. I have four classes coming up at the Round Lake Area Library in Round Lake, Illinois.
January 29, 2011
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Start Right: How to begin tracing your ancestors.
February 26, 2011
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Genealogy: Beyond the Basics
March 26, 2011
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
April 23, 2011
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Genealogy: Myths and Legends