Tag Archives: Personal writing

The Book: Progess Report – August 2, 2014

World War II letter book coverThis week was my first full week back to work at my day job. Wow! My vacation is truly over.  Late summer and early fall are my busy season. I will be madly working on state mandated testing until the end of October.  Despite my schedule change, I still managed to work on the book and transcribe this week’s letters.

Last week after I decided to start using the Palamino font, I went back through the manuscript and changed both the font type and the size. The book has now increased in length and measures over 300 hundred pages. I am almost done assembling chapter 8 (November 1942). Chapter 9 will include all the letters from December 1942. I intend to write a chapter of biographies of the people who are mentioned in the 1942 letters only. The last steps will be assembling a bibliography of sources (these sources will mainly be the ones I use to write the biographies) and an index. I haven’t played too much with word’s indexing function and I am not sure how well it will work, especially since people’s names are not always complete. So I may be building an index of names from scratch.

The next thing I worked on this week was finding an appropriate symbol to separate each letter. Up until this point, I used 5 centered asterisks after each letter. Very boring! And it looked amateurish. I was thinking of finding a symbol that looked like an anchor since my grandfather was in the Navy; I wasn’t really happy with any of the choices I found. In typography, this device is known as a hedera. In old latin texts, it was used to separate paragraphs in long documents (between the chapter breaks). The device was typically shaped like a leaf from the hedera plant. I found that by playing with symbols in word, using the Wing dings font, there are some pretty great graphics that work very nicely.


My hedera symbol

Another idea I played around with was making a simple family tree graphic. Since the letters mention family members often, I thought it would be an easy way for readers to quickly find and see the relationships. I have completed one chart for the Yegerlehner family and intend to make two more: one for the Fosters and another for the Schiele family.

Yegerlehner Tree

Yegerlehner family tree

My last brainstorm for the week involved the use of poetry. Often chapters in books have quotes at the beginning. Roscoe and Gladys didn’t particularly have any favorite poets BUT they did enjoy opera. Operas are mentioned often in the letters so I thought this was a good way to incorporate that love into the book. So now I am gleaning one of the family’s favorite operas to find meaningful quotes. And when I say the family, I mean my generation as well. My dad took me to my first opera when I was six and it was this opera. Until this week, I had not realized that it was my grandmother’s favorite opera as well. I won’t name the opera as I want to leave some of the book a secret.

So my question for the week to my readers is…should I leave in the crossed-out errors in the letters? It looks neater if the strike-outs are removed but I think it takes away some of the personality and authenticity of the letters. What do you think?

© Deborah Sweeney, 2014.
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2014/08/02/the-book-progress-report-august-2-2014/

The Book: Progress Report – July 27, 2014

World War II letter book coverI haven’t done a book update in a month, mostly because I haven’t done a thing on either book. I’ve been out of town with my children, exploring the northeastern part of the country. I was able to spend some time with my dad in New York, and then I traveled to New England to catch up with some old friends and see lots of historical venues. All in all, we were gone exactly three weeks. I spent last week catching up on everything else, including my ProGen homework for the month. I wrote an 18 page evidence analysis report for my Revolutionary War ancestor Nathaniel Hobart. Yesterday, I was finally able to sit down and start working on one of the books.

While I was out of town, some documents that I had ordered for my research on the David Jegerlehner descendant book arrived: the death certificate for George Yegerlehner and a stack of obituaries from the Allen County Public library. It appears that George died in Oak Park, Illinois while visiting (or living with) his daughter Hazel. Wilbur O. Igelman, Hazel’s husband, was the informant on the death certificate. The Igelmans were enumerated in Oak Park in 1940, and they were apparently still living there in 1949. So mystery solved as to why George died in Oak Park!

The first volume of Roscoe and Gladys’ letters now exceeds 200 pages. I am working on assembling Chapter 7, the letters from November 1942. Chapter 8 will contain December’s letters. Then the hard work of writing short biographies of select individuals shall begin. I began looking at some blog articles about type font last night. Since I am planning on self-publishing the letters, there is a lot to consider. I have been using Calibri font while assembling the letters, but most books use a serif font (vs. a sans serif font). This WordPress blog uses a sans serif font. The publishing industry has been debating font merits for readability and legibility for a very long time. Personally, I think it just depends on what your personal aesthetic is. Two of the standard recommended choices for self-publishing are Garamond and Palatino. Below are samples of these two types plus the Calibri I use for general word processing. What do you think works best?


Garamond (a serif font)

Palatino Linotype

Palatino Linotype (a serif font)


Calibri (sans serif)

Link to article: Picking Fonts for Your Self Published Book

© Deborah Sweeney, 2014.
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2014/07/27/the-book-progress-report-july-24-2014/

The Book: Progress Report – June 21, 2014

Book CoverI know I haven’t written about my book progress for the last two weeks. Two major events precluded my writing a post about my progress.

During the first week, I was chaperoning my Girl Scout troop to Disneyland. The girls had saved their cookie money from several seasons, and were able to make the trip with minimal expense from the families. So even though you might think twice about buying cookies, they really do mean a lot for the girls. We were gone five days (2 for driving, 3 in the parks). The girls enjoyed two Youth Education programs – one on Animation and another on Leadership. Our presenters were both excellent educators. If you ever get the chance to participate in the Youth Education programs, it is worth it (plus you get to go in the Fast Track line for several rides while taking the class).

Disneyland 2014

The second major event occurred this week, and was less fun than the previous week’s distraction – the DDoS attack of Ancestry and many of its subsidiary companies. After spending last weekend recovering from the excesses of Disneyland, I sat down ready to work on Monday morning but was unable to access my data file or any records. I worked on a couple other small projects but was feeling dejected. My father had recently shared one of my WWII letter blog posts on his Facebook page. One of his friends was excited about the future possibility of turning the letters into a book. This has been one of my long term goals, and I had already started cutting and pasting the letter transcriptions together. So instead of working on the David Jegerlehner book, I found myself working most of this week on preparing the letters for book publication. Perhaps they might even be ready this fall or early next year.

World War II letter book coverThe first volume will only contain the letters from 1942. There are over 300 letters from that year alone. With the annotations and short biographies I plan to write about some of the individuals in the letters, I think this will make a good sized book (200-300 pages). Three more volumes will likely follow. There are over 600 letters for 1943, so this year will be split in half. The remaining letters from 1944-1945 will be the last volume. I already have a table of contents and a cover designed for this book. Currently I have organized 70 pages of letters (May-August) with the remaining months of the year still to go (September-December). Over the last two days, I have written first drafts of an Introduction and the first chapter explaining who Roscoe and Gladys were.

As for the Descendants of David Jegerlehner book, I received three awesome envelopes in the mail this week: two from the National Archives and one from the Indiana Department of Health. From the National Archives, I received the Civil War Pension files for David’s son John Yagerlehner and his son-in-law Thomas H. McCormick. The Indiana Department of Health envelope contained the death certificate for Rosina (Yegerlehner) Wolfe, one of my great grandfather’s sisters. They were unable to find a death record for Rosina’s brother Charles who supposedly died in Indianapolis in 1922.

The book progress updates will be going on hiatus for the next month. I have numerous other commitments that will take me away from my computer and my research, including a little vacation time. Because although Disneyland was fun, it wasn’t truly a vacation while chaperoning eleven 13-15 old teenage girls. That’s hard work!

© Deborah Sweeney, 2014.
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2014/06/21/the-book-progr…t-june-21-2014/

The Book: Progress Report – June 6, 2014

Book CoverThis week the manuscript has expanded to 45 pages. There are currently 21,917 words and 142 footnotes. I am not sure I have ever written anything this long before. I am not counting the 89 page book that I wrote in 1998, although I probably should. The 1998 book was my first genealogy history book. Titled The Descendants of Jacob Troxell, 1797-1885, the book was a very basic genealogical report of Jacob’s descendants. I catalogued known descendants through the seventh generation with 857 individuals! Perhaps I should rephrase my initial statement. I have written a longer document. However, it was written early in my career as a genealogist, and although I used a modified register system, my sourcing was very limited. I used about thirteen different sources in my bibliography, and did not footnote or reference each fact. I have certainly learned a lot in the last 14 years. One thing I did know back then was how important it is to share your work. I donated two copies of my book to libraries in Indiana. You can even find my book listed on World Cat.

My biggest discovery this week is that I tracked down where great Uncle George died. Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis is one of the largest cemeteries in the country. This year marks their 150th anniversary. They have a part time genealogist/historian on staff to handle requests. For a reasonably modest fee, one can order burial records for individuals buried at the cemetery. They also have a great online burial locator. Over the years, I have used it quite a lot. But until this year, I had never ordered an actual burial record. For those of you who followed along with the saga of William B. Schwartz, I decided that I needed to give this service a try. I knew William and his wife Mary Victoria were buried there so I started with them. The cemetery sent me a copy of William’s burial certificate which included his death location and cause of death. (He died from the rupture of an aortic aneurism). They don’t have this information for all their burials, only those prior to 1917. I ordered William’s death certificate from the state of Indiana at the same time. The burial certificate is more legible than the death certificate. I would not have been able to decipher much from the death certificate so I am glad I ordered both. After ordering William’s burial certificate, I decided to give Uncle George’s a try. I was crossing my fingers that Uncle George’s burial certificate would give the location of his death. The gamble paid off. He died in Oak Park, Illinois. I even found him on the Illinois State Archives Death Index (once I knew where to look). I am not exactly sure what he was doing in Oak Park, but I suspect he was probably visiting relatives when he died.

This week, I continued to add burial notes and footnotes to the manuscript. Hopefully, I will be done soon! I attempted to write a brief biography of one of the male descendants from the fifth generation who never married. His obituary is one that arrived in the mail this week. I found his high school yearbook, gleaned some great information and a photograph as well.

Yagerlehner, Glenn - Caldron (Central High School), 1929, p. 13 (detail)

Central High School (Fort Wayne), Class of 1929


© Deborah Sweeney, 2014.
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2014/06/06/the-book-progress-report-june-6-2014/

The Book: Progress Report – May 30, 2014

I feel like I did a lot of work this week, and I didn’t get to work on things as much as I wanted to.

I read a great article from Vita Brevis (one of the blogs of AmericanAncestors.org and the New England Historical and Genealogical Society). Author Penny Stratton wrote about preparing your genealogical project for publication. Her two bits of advice this week were on the importance of writing a table of contents and coming up with a title. I already came up with a working title last week but had not written a table of contents. I also noticed this week that my father has a title of contents for his book which he uses as a checklist to track his progress. So I got to work and came up with a basic working table of contents for my book. I may have to change the subtitle of my book at some point since I do not intend to write about ALL of David’s descendants in this book. Perhaps I should just add a Volume 1 to the title….

Table of Contents

The manuscript has now increased to 38 pages. I haven’t really begun writing any of the individual biographies yet. It is hard when I keep feeling like I can still find more information. It seems so final to write a person’s biography. At some point, I will just have to do it. Instead, this week, I began adding burial information to each individual’s biographical section, as well as writing the footnotes for those facts. I am a little tired of writing Find A Grave, database and images…. but it needs to be done. The gaps in my research are more apparent this way. Overall, I do know where most of the descendants are buried, but I am missing a few. So more research to add to my to-do list…. I have not quite finished this task but will hopefully be done next week.

I received the four obituaries that I ordered last week and ordered another set. I discovered that one of the female descendants had a marriage I was not aware of. She is also one of the descendants with missing burial information. Another obituary gave me a death location. Even though this person lived most of his life in Fort Wayne, and was buried there, he actually died at the home of one of his children in New Jersey. Who knew?!? Well, now I do. One of my death certificate requests came up as a bust. One of my great grandfather’s brothers lived most of his adult life in Indianapolis. He was also buried there but apparently he did not die in the state of Indiana. The Department of Health cannot find a record of his death. This just proves how important off-line research is. Not everything is available on-line, and if you want to really to discover the details of ancestors’ lives, libraries and archives are still our most valuable asset for research. So now, I have to figure out where Uncle George actually died.

I also need to write up a generic questionnaire to give to various family members to help them tell stories about their parents or grandparents: for everything from, where did your parents get married, did they have an obituary, where did they go to school, and what did they do for a living. Most people freeze when you just ask them…so just tell me about this person. Having actual questions can help narrow down and focus the memories.

© Deborah Sweeney, 2014.
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2014/05/30/the-book-progress-report-may-30-2014/

A New Project

I have to admit it; I haven’t been too focused on the blog lately. I am still committed to posting all my grandparents’ World War II letters though. I have transcribed and published around 500 which has taken me 18 months at this point. I am probably at the halfway point. So another 18 months to go at least. As much as I have enjoyed researching William B. Schwartz’s life, I am ready to move onto to other things. Who would have thought it would have taken from January to May to tell his story? I certainly didn’t when I started. I am not sure if I am going to continue the daily newspaper clipping post. I need to consider what research I will reserve for my Board of Certification portfolio. Anything submitted for the portfolio has to be previously unpublished and unedited (or reviewed).

My newest focus is going to be….to write my first real, fully researched and sourced family genealogy book. I have been researching my grandparents’ families for twenty years now and it is time to write down what I have learned. I don’t want my research to be lost or destroyed when I am gone. Small blog posts are a great way to share pieces of research but they do not form a cohesive whole.

For the last month, I have been working on the outline of my book. I am tracing the descendants of my Swiss ancestor, David Jegerlehner. David was Roscoe’s great grandfather. So far I have 200 descendants in my outline, and I still haven’t finished with the fifth generation. For this book, I am going to stop with the fifth generation. Most of this generation is gone, or nearly gone, so I have very few people to worry about contacting for privacy issues.

Today I decided to play around with a working cover for the book…what do you think?

Book Cover

©Deborah Sweeney, 2014.
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2014/05/17/a-new-project/

Book of Me – Prompt 3: Physical Attributes

book of meThis is week 3 of a 15 month writing project. This week’s assignment is to write about your physical attributes. This writing challenge is provided by Julie Goucher from the blog Angler’s Rest.

This week’s instructions are:
Describe your physical self
Your size – clothes size
Eye color
Draw your hands
Finger Prints

Ballet recital, early 1980s

Ballet recital, early 1980s at Worcester State College (Deborah is second on the left)

As a child, Deborah was always thin. Although she loved to dance, she was never considered athletic and was probably a bit on the clumsy side. Her genetic makeup predetermined her greater than average height but this did not become truly apparent until junior high (and probably contributed to the death of her dancing career). During her teen years, she grew taller than her mother and three of her four grandparents. She finally stopped growing just shy of 5’10”. Beanpole was a common nickname during this time in her life. In college, one of her roommates affectionately called her Olive Oil, after Popeye’s girlfriend because of her height and relative thinness. Throughout her life, Deborah despised clothes shopping. Standard sizes were not made for tall people. Many a tear was shed throughout the years over high waders and bare wrist bones. Even as a child, she preferred dresses and skirts because pants were never made long enough. Learning to sew was another strategy she used to compensate for gangling limbs. The advent of tall sizes at the end of the 20th century and early 21st century did alleviate some of Deborah’s shopping nightmares, but only a little.

Deborah, early 1990s

Deborah, early 1990s (Aran Islands, Ireland)

Deborah did not have many scars or birthmarks. She never really broke a bone (toes don’t count) or severely cut herself. When she was in elementary school (before the chicken pox vaccine), she had the disease during one summer vacation. Several of the scabs were quite itchy. There was one in the middle of her brow that she scratched quite often. As a result, a small uneven scar was formed. Most people would not notice until it was pointed out. There were some minor scars on her fingers from the unsafe handling of sharp objects, or her possible clumsiness. During her first week in the kitchen at Kabeyun, she sliced the top knuckle of the right pointer finger trying to open a 20 lb bag of carrots. Another scar was created on her right pinkie from trying to open a pop top can of cat food. She maintained a healthy fear of such evil devices (pop top cans) for most of her adult life. On the other hand’s thumb was a scar made when a chunk was removed with a pair of scissors. The most noticeable scar was the one at the base of her neck, in the dip of the collarbone.  In her mid-twenties, it was discovered that her thyroid had a cancerous tumor. The doctors attempted to take only the affected lobe but later had to go back in and remove the rest of the organ. This was perhaps the most dramatic and meaningful scar.

Deborah - c1982

Deborah – c1982

Having nearly 100% northern European ancestry, Deborah was fair skinned. She was never one to get a tan, and frequently ended up with sunburns unintentionally. She was sprinkled liberally with freckles as a result.  Her eyes were hazel, predominately brown with flecks of green.  When she was younger, her hair was lighter but it eventually morphed into a brown with golden highlights. Since she loved red hair, she often dyed her hair red in her late teens and twenties. Typically, she preferred longer hair although there were sporadic periods when she kept it short. When she was married, her hair was almost long enough to sit upon.

Deborah in 5th or 6th grade

Deborah in 5th or 6th grade

In first grade, it was discovered that she couldn’t read the board from the back of the room. In those days, children were frequently seated in alphabetical order. With a surname starting with the letter Y, she often found herself sitting in the back of the room. Glasses became a part of her wardrobe. As a teenager, she stopped wearing glasses as the problem seemed to have corrected itself temporarily. However, in her 20s, the difficulty of seeing distances returned, especially street signs on the highway. When she became a teacher, she had a hard time seeing the board again! So the glasses returned. Eventually, they became a permanent requirement on her driver’s license.

Handprints, 2013

Handprints, 2013

©2013 copyright owned and written by Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found at: https://genealogylady.net/2013/09/14/book-of-me-pro…cal-attributes/