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How Google Books was a game-changer…

26 Dec

I know that “game-changer” is dramatic, but, well, Google Books really was a game-changer. At least in one instance. Here, let me show you…

Early on in my research of William Ziesel, I was watching some video from the FamilySearch “learn” section.

(FamilySearch.org –> Learn –> Research Courses –> type in a word and see if there is a course about it)

I can’t recall the video, but at some point the presenter talked about Google Books. Google has been scanning books into their library for a few years now. Here’s an overview of Google Books.

Screen shot 2012-12-26 at 10.06.22 AM

I went to Google Books and just typed in “William Ziesel”…and found that he had published a book back in the early 1900’s about gum disease (exciting, I know, but he was a dentist).

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It does look to be a stunning page-turner, and Google Books will let me read it entirely on-line, but I decided that since I was in the middle of research I didn’t have time. Oddly enough, I still haven’t read it…

There were actually numerous copies of that book on Google Books, but then I found this, and here is where Google Books was a game-changer:

Screen shot 2012-12-26 at 10.12.24 AM

Check that out. The proceedings of a court case where my g-g-grandmother was going against my g-g-grandfather! What are the chances that of all of the court cases in the world, my ancestors’ case would be described, published, and then scanned by Google Books!? So I scanned the article and found this!

Screen shot 2012-12-26 at 10.18.33 AM

From this I find a marriage date (which may be wrong by the way), and also that they had three children by the time they were divorced. I know, from other records, that they had a child who passed away early in life, but this record clues me in to the fact that I’m probably not missing any other living children. I also saw a divorce date, which I didn’t have.

But here was the real kicker:

Screen shot 2012-12-26 at 10.30.43 AM

Here it mentions that William married again (which we kind of knew about) and that he and his second wife had a daughter (which we did not know about at all!). We also learn that the second marriage was in a state of disrepair, which eventually opened the door for discovering a third wife…

Since this case was decided in 1921, we know that this mystery daughter was born before 1921 and (presumably) after the divorce in 1914 (which, thankfully, was the case).

And this was the start of my research that turned up Eleanor Ziesel (1916-2008). And I’ll discuss her a little later…

What is “Discovering William”? (and why would you care?)

24 Dec

In a nutshell, this blog is about what William taught me about family history and genealogy…

Better said, some weeks ago (after a multi-year break) two things happened that rekindled my interest in genealogy. First, my younger brother brought up some genealogical information he had discovered. Though we haven’t thoroughly documented this information, if it is correct, it is info we’ve been searching for over the course of decades. That got me thinking…

Secondly, I was sitting there in bed one morning, and for some reason I was thinking about a related family (genealogically speaking) and, out of curiosity, decided to see what info I could dig up on them. The head of the family was William Ziesel, and you can find that story here.

As I’ve dug back into genealogy, I’ve learned some things about the research and effort required, and this blog is where I’m going to share it.

Disclaimer #1: I’m not an expert. I’m a sharer.

Disclaimer #2: This isn’t a blog dedicated to William Ziesel and his family research, though I’ll be using him (at least at the start) to illustrate some things.

Ok…here’s an update from the “About” page I just realized was there..

Don’t let the title of this blog fool you…this isn’t a blog about William Ziesel. Well, it is, but it isn’t. Here’s a better explanation:

My efforts to dig up a little info on my great-great-grandfather have proven to be good training. And, as I discover things, I’m passing them along. I’m certainly no professional genealogist, and I’m not even an expert in anything. But I’m learning and having some success. Maybe that will be the most helpful thing. If you are like me, maybe you just need an ordinary person like you to walk you through various steps of research.

I was talking to a friend about family history some weeks ago and he made a solid observation. It is easy to find information on why one should do genealogy. There’s plenty of motivational information around. What he wanted was someone to sit down with him, right at the computer, and walk him through how to do research.

Now, to be sure, I love the professional genealogists. Are you kidding me? I couldn’t do any of my research without their efforts. They’re great! I just don’t happen to be one.

So, that’s what this blog is. This is how I’m finding information, doing research, storing data, organizing data, etc. You can just watch me do it, step by step. If it is helpful, great. If not…

PS…I guess it kind of is a blog about William. I mean, if you’re in my family and are looking for info on William, there’s going to be a boatload here, along with other family lines. So…