Your Family Photographs. Scanning Them. Made Easier.

My late grandmother. 1940s.

Over the Easter holiday, I had a chance to digitize some family photographs using my portable scanner. Known as “Flip Pal,” this battery-operated, portable scanner has been all over the place! I have used it countless times at various family members' houses in Ohio, out West and even at a remote village in South America!

The Flip Pal mobile scanner

HERE'S WHY I USE IT

  1. It's portable
  2. It's light-weight and small (2.5 lbs and dimensions: 12.5 × 9.25 × 2.25 in)
  3. Its scanning features are incredible!
    • Scan Originals
    • Flip and Scan
    • Large Originals
  4. It's battery-operated (4 AA batteries) and utilizes an SD card
  5. It's ideal for 4 x 6 photos or smaller

One unmistakable benefit of this device over conventional flatbed scanners is that you can flip the scanner over, allowing you to scan precious-and perhaps fragile-photographs directly from a photo album. In other words, you don't need to take a photograph out of an album in order to scan it like you likely would need to do if you were using a conventional flatbed scanner.

The versatility of scanning a photograph directly from a photo album with the “Flip and Scan” option, scanning loose photographs with the “Scan Originals” option, or scanning using the “Large Originals” option make for an exceptionally innovative, convenient and easy-to-use device. Take it wherever you need it! In my opinion, it is worth the amount I paid for it. As of this writing, the Flip Pal scanner costs around $180. One other handy tip to consider is that it's best to use rechargeable AA batteries. Even if you can get through a good stack of photographs before it's necessary to change the batteries, it's best to use rechargeable batteries. In the long run, you'll save money.

For more information about the Flip Pal scanner, follow this link:
https://flip-pal.com/product/scanner/.

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“MY MIRACLE AT TEN”: A LETTER, A LIFE ON THE LINE, A LESSON.

During a recent vacation to Arizona, my family and I had an opportunity to pay our respects to my late grandmother, Talma Scorza.  +RIP+  It is hard to believe that it has almost been 10 years since she passed away!  We sure do miss her dearly!

Talma Scorza (1925-2009)

 

A WONDERFUL DEVELOPMENT!

After our Arizona visit, a family member presented to me one of the few handwritten letters that we have from my grandmother.  Consequently, the letter composed about 25 years ago, which I transcribed below, is truly precious.  Moreover, it is a message of hope! Not infrequently, we uncover horrible things (whatever they may be) when we dig deeper in our quest to learn more about our ancestors and relatives. Unfortunately, this is a part of the human condition. The story, which you are about to read is no exception. Thankfully, though, in this case, hope had the final say!

Below is a transcript of the letter in my late grandmother's own words. The letter's religious and hopeful message reflects her deeply-held beliefs. 

 

One of God's Many Daily Miracles

by Grandma Talma Scorza

[Holmes County, Florida]

     

Early one summer morning when I was ten years old, my cousins, siblings and I were playing outside while Mother and Aunt Cora prepared breakfast. Aunt Cora being a young widow with five children, our family shared with them what God had allowed us to enjoy- Our “play” outside included jumping from the “hay loft” (attic of storage area that covered the wagon and farm tools) to the hard ground – height of 8 or 10 feet. In a 10 year old mind seemed more like 12 ft. Wow, did our bodies take a “jarring,” pounding, shaking as our feet hit the ground, also probably our brains. By the time we went in for breakfast of “hoe-cakes,” “griddle cakes,” known as pancakes today, I had developed a terrific headache. I was concerned with getting my portion (selfish, I know, but with nine hungry children), I became too sick to eat and left the table. I never made it to where I was going before passing out.

My family found me a few moments later, and my brother was sent running to get neighbor, Mrs. Paul, to come and pray with them, while someone else went for [the] country doctor (Dr. Smith). The following week is blank for me, so I only know what was reported to me by family. As my fever soared to 107, I was given quinine (bitter medicine) as [the] doctor ordered. (In my mind's eye, I can still see all those little empty bottles). They also used mustard plasters on my chest and back and any other home remedies suggested. All the while a 24 hour a day vigil was held at my beside, with prayers being offered on my behalf. 

So, for me without answered prayer, I wouldn't be here (63 years later) writing this article for a wonderful grandson, Stephen. Everyday and every hour is always a miracle for me. Even though many relatives and neighbors had been there during the week of vigil, it was Mrs. Paul (my Sunday School teacher) sitting at the foot of the bed when I woke up after being in a coma for a week. It was a special moment to see her and ask for a big doll which I didn't even own. It was the middle of [the] night so I drifted back to sleep quickly, but awakened [the] next morning as if only one night had passed. I'm very thankful for answered prayer and the many blessings God has allowed me to enjoy over the years. As a result of “my miracle at ten,” I now enjoy the miracle of a wonderful Christian family, including my husband, two children (four by marriage), seven grandchildren (nine by marriage), and four great-grandchildren.  So let's all “Praise God from whom all Blessings Flow.” – Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Can You Find Your Prussian Village?

Damme church
Village church in Damme (Brandenburg, Germany) – Courtesy of Wikimedia.org

 

There is nothing more rewarding than to be able to answer the perennial questions that many of us ask ourselves: Where did our ancestors come from?  Who are we?  For many of us with Prussian roots, the spark for entertaining such questions often begins with looking at records.

Many years ago, I had seen “Prussia” listed as the country of origin for some of my ancestors on the U.S. Federal Census.  From that moment on, I wanted to learn more about my Prussian roots, especially about my SECOND Great-Grandfather, Christian Wendt (see Fig. 1 below).1  Who was this man?  What were my Wendt Family ancestors like?  What was the homeland in Prussia like?

Christian Wendt.jpg
Fig. 1   My Prussian SECOND Great-Grandfather, Christian Wendt

Christian Wendt first appeared on the 1850 U.S. Census with his parents, Martin and Maria Wendt, and his sisters.  It was definitely exciting to learn a little more about him and his family while they resided in Niagara County, New York.2  However, I wanted to know when they arrived to the United States and where they came from in Prussia (now Germany).  On the 1900 U.S. Census, it indicated that they had emigrated to the U.S. in 1846.3  This detail was a good starting point, but I was just at the beginning of my personal Prussian search.  I needed more answers and proof.

A breakthrough occurred after spending what seemed like an eternity of searching for my Wendt ancestors on a passenger arrival list.  I found the record on the popular Ancestry database under “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957” (see Fig. 2 below). 

wendt-Passenger List
Fig. 2    New York Passenger List –  15 June 1846

The passenger list indicated the following information, which I knew corresponded nicely with this immigrant Wendt Family.  I had found out that:

  • Christian Wendt and his family had arrived in New York on the 15th of June 1846
  • Their port of departure was Hamburg
  • The ship that they traveled on was the Howard

This passenger arrival record was like a dream come true!  I was now able to trace my Wendt Family to their point of departure in Hamburg.  Since the record did not indicate any other geographical details, including the name of the Prussian village, my search was far from over.

The next step was to look for emigration records.  I did not have to search far!  It just so happened that I had found the village information and more that I was looking for on Ancestry as well under the “Brandenburg, Prussia Emigration Records” (see Fig. 3 below).5  

Christian Friedrich Wilhelm Wendt_1846 Passenger Information_Damme Prenzlau
Fig. 3   Transcript of Hamburg Emigration Record for Christian Wendt on Ancestry 

This emigration information marked a turning point in my Prussian family research.  I had learned not only the name of the village of Damme, but about the Kreis (county) of Prenzlau as well.  This information proved to be crucial in order to pinpoint exactly where the village was on a gazetteer (a kind of geographical dictionary). 

My search did not end there.  I wanted to verify whether everything on the transcript was factually correct.  I was determined to look for a copy of the record.  I did not have to wait long.  During a time in which the LDS microfilm service was still in effect, I had the opportunity to borrow and view a copy of the record at my local Family History Center.  I took two digital images of the immigration cards on microfiche containing information about my Wendt ancestors (see Fig. 4 and Fig. 5).6  On the first image, there is information concerning the parents, Martin and Maria (in this case, she is listed as Marie-Dorothee), the number of their children and their place of origin.  Also, it lists Martin’s age, his occupation and their travel destination to North America in 1846.  On the second image, there is a list of the names of the children, including Christian, and their dates of birth.

Hamburg Emigration - Wendt
 Fig. 4   Hamburg Emigration Record for the Wendt Family

Hamburg Emigration - Wendt (2).jpeg
Fig. 5   Hamburg Emigration Record for the Wendt Family (Cont'd)

It was a privilege to view a copy of the emigration record.  A thorough review of the emigration record was proof enough that the information had been transcribed correctly.  In my case, I was very fortunate to have been able to trace, online, my Wendt ancestors to their Prussian village of origin.  In reality, though, one's Prussian village of origin is not as easy to find as some might think.  Fortunately, there are other techniques that can be employed.  In the next segment (How Can You Find Your Prussian Village? – Part 2), I will demonstrate how it is possible to find a Prussian village using other records.  

Notes:

1. Christian Wendt photograph, ca. 1900; digital image 2015, privately held by Stephen Wendt, Cleveland, Ohio, 2015.

2. Ancestry, “1850 United States Federal Census,” database, Ancestry  (https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=8054&h=7656618&tid=&pid=&usePUB=true : accessed 1 July 2012), entry for Christian Wendt (b. 1834), Wheatfield, Niagara County, New York, p. 169B, fam. 361; citing “affiliate film number” M432_560.                                                                                               *The Wendt surname was incorrectly transcribed as “West” on  the Ancestry database.

3. Ancestry, “1900 United States Federal Census,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7602/4119884_00243/76645495?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/4137462/person/120011088967/facts/citation/540049711391/edit/record : accessed 1 July 2012), entry for Christian Wendt (b. 1834), Park, Deuel County, Nebraska, dist. 98, p. 2, fam. 33; citing “affiliate film number” T623.

4. “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1857, Roll 62: 1820-1957,” database, Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll indiv=1&dbid=7488&h=1023032323&tid=&pid=&usePUB=true&_phsrc=XPV679&_phstart=successSource : accessed 31 July 2012), entry for C. Wendt age 12, arrived New York, New York, 15 June 1846 aboard the Howard.                                                                                            

5. Potsdam. Auswanderungskartei [Emigration documents], year 1846, Wendt Family; Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv, Potsdam, Germany; FHL International Fiche 6109219, 6109220

6. Potsdam. Auswanderungskartei [Emigration documents], year 1846, Wendt Family.

 

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What is your family story?

Hugo_cropped
Hugo Wendt, my great-grandfather. Circa  1912.

The Value of Family Stories

At some point in our lives, many of us have experienced a loved one share the same family stories over and over again.  Perhaps we did not fully appreciate them back then, but we cherish them now.  For other folks, perhaps not much oral family history was passed down.  At any rate, each of our respective family stories is a kind of gateway to our ancestral past.  It is not uncommon, later on, for such family stories to spark an interest in genealogy—that of discovering where we came from and who we are.

Genealogy and Oral Family History

One way genealogy enthusiasts and professionals start their family history journey is by pursuing their loved ones’ earlier stories and transforming them into a timeless treasure. Perhaps certain stories were snippets of a rich or of a more complicated family past.  One story, for example, which was passed down in my family for a couple of generations, was that the marriage of my great-grandfather (depicted above) failed because he was injured in a train accident.  With no other information to go on other than that he suffered a horrible head injury in a train accident, the inescapable conclusion had been the following theme: that there was a causal relationship between the earlier train accident and the family break-up.

Validate Through Research

Oftentimes, we are able to ascertain the veracity of an oral family story by performing research.  Perhaps a particular story was entirely factual-or in part-or demonstrably false (or somewhere in between).  In my great-grandfather’ case, our family did not have many of the details.  My family’s forgotten past made it next to impossible to determine ‘where’ I came from relative to this family line.  Interestingly enough, in depth research indicated a likely causal link–at least to some extent.  However, over 20 years had elapsed between the train accident and the family break-up. In between both tragic events, my great-grandfather had been very accomplished in his professional life, which none of my contemporary family members had even known about.  A majority of the missing information was unearthed by performing historical newspaper searches.  Consequently, this tragic family history story has been expanded to include outstanding moments along the way!

Your Family Tradition

The key to starting or continuing genealogy research is to focus on what we know and take it from there.   There are many tools at our disposal in the pursuit of answers.  Whether it is evaluating an oral family history, attempting to take a family line back a generation, searching for DNA details or determining whether we are related to a famous person in history—whatever the reason may be, many of us are curious about where we came from and who we are.  Far from being a dull undertaking, genealogical research helps us to answer burning questions about our family past.  It is this passion for unlocking their family history which constitutes why many genealogy enthusiasts and professionals do genealogy in the first place.

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