Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Air Medal

Awarded for "any person who, while serving in any capacity in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard of the United States subsequent to Sept. 8, 1939, distinguishes, or has distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in an aerial flight."

It features an eagle swooping down to attack with lightening bolts clutched in its talons.

Why the lesson in military awards? 

Because today is Veterans Day. We must never forget to honor their sacrifices.

Because there was a job that needed doing.

And because my father flew 65 missions during World War II and was awarded this medal 13 times.

Thanks Dad. Job well done.

Ernie W Wilkowski

Photo credits:
 Air Force Personnel Center website
Author's personal collection

Friday, February 20, 2015

Vaccinations in a Different Time

When I married, my mother gave me a file folder of all my "important papers." I skimmed the contents, filed the folder and forgot it. But when the vaccination debate hit the news I remembered those funny little yellow cards she had given me.

My shot records. Now I knew I was never given the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) shot. It was introduced just in time for my kids to be protected. But I was curious about the other diseases I was immune to.

My mother was VERY pro-vaccine. She used to ask me if I had gotten her grandchildren their shots. And then she would tell me the stories about the unvaccinated children she had known and how selfish their parents were. You can be sure she marched us all to the doctor the minute the polio vaccine was available.

I've always wondered if she had just seen too much unpreventable disease while she was growing up or if her fear was passed on to her from her mother. Grandma's mother, Hannah Nelson died of typhus in 1888 when Grandma was only two years old. 

I discovered I had been protected against typhoid, typhus, smallpox, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and the flu. I got the full series of the Salk vaccine and then 6 years later, my sisters and I lined up for "Operation Swallow", a community-wide effort to distribute the polio vaccine in Hawaii in 1962. I'm not sure how I missed the shot for the plague. I guess there wasn't much of it in Montana back then.

Thanks Mom. 

And now for a Public Service Announcement. Once is not enough. Check with your doctor, get your boosters and stay healthy.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fond du Lac County, WI Roots?

I was wandering around the internet today when I stumbled onto an amazing find. I'm disappointed that none of my people are listed but this is just too good.

In June, 1912, Franklin Swett, secretary of the Old Settlers club, compiled Old Settlers and Home-Comers of Fond du Lac County for Fond Du Lac's homecoming week.  He profiled dozens of citizens of the county over the age of 90. And had them sit for photographs!

The Fond du Lac Daily Commonwealth (18 Jun 1912) called the booklet a "valuable gallery of well known citizens." The writer was probably trying to encourage potential purchasers but we genealogists know just how valuable it really is. Did I mention photographs?

The author included short profiles of his subject. Most have dates and places of birth and when the person arrived in Fond du Lac. Others include short military histories or occupations. But it's the photos that make this gold.

You can view the booklet in the State of Wisconsin collection at the University of Wisconsin's digital collections website.

Here's an index of those profiled. 

Gold, pure gold.

Be sure to let me know if you can stake a claim.

Monday, January 19, 2015

School days

Senior year in high school is a special time with special memories. One particular day is still with me after 51 years.

It was a school day pretty much like any other when the senior class carpooled to the University of Hawaii. I knew the nuns thought it was pretty important since I don 't remember taking another field trip the entire time I attended Sacred Heart Academy in Honolulu.

It was special, all right. The University was hosting a  Civil Rights Week symposium and it was 1964. The featured speaker was the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., named Time Magazine's "Man of the Year" a few months before.

I can't tell you anything about his speech. I remember the man; his commanding presence, his simple message. I knew I was a part of history and I knew he had changed my life.

It was a special day.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore,

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Last year I decided that I needed to revisit the research I've done on my husband's family. I just know (hope) I've missed something. But I had to have some way to see what I had.

I didn't want a regular research log format. I wanted a chronology/research log/these are the documents I found log. I really wanted this form to function as an overview of what I have; kind of a one stop shop. My brain likes everything in one place.

Shannon Thomas has published some nifty Evernote templates and I started playing with them. Thank you Shannon for permission to modify and post the new form.

A note of caution. This is not a form to print and take with you. It takes 6 pages to print this person in landscape mode. I think it's better to add Evernote to your phone or tablet and use it as a reminder. Because of this, I decided not to include source citations on this page. I build them in Legacy Family Tree and Evidentia and then add the citation to the image's metadata. 

I start by adding all the documents I have about the person. In August's case, it's not much.

I think August Bidde is the first husband of the second wife of Ernst Trogg. Ernst may or may not be my husband's great-grandfather. Confused? Me too. That's why I need a form.

  • The ID # is the MRIN-RIN assigned by Legacy Family Tree. I added the link to Ancestry to make it easier to jump to his page. So far I haven't found him on FamilySearch.
  • The bold red font serves as a nudge to let me know I have work to do. 
  • I have no conclusion. This person is a mystery and will probably always be one.
  • The alternate spellings section reminds me of all the different ways people have managed to mangle a name.

This next section is pretty much all I know about August. He immigrated in 1874 (maybe), married, fathered two children and died. August wasn't here long enough to leave much of a paper trail. But I still hope.

As you can see, every scrap of information I have goes on the sheet. Once I start a sheet for each of his children, I'll link them in the children's section.

My file ID is the name I assigned to a document in my filing system. It's easy to link to the Evernote copy. The "?" means I'm not sure the document is really about my guy. If I prove it I'll change to "!". The "other things to look for" section can be expanded as I think of new sources. 

Finally, I set up a master index note for each line I'm searching. The index is the first note in the notebook and lets me jump right to research plan. I also added the links to Ancestry and Family Search to the link, but that's probably overkill.