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Missouri Summer ~1995

Missouri Summer ~ Gracie & Livy

It’s National Watermelon Day!!

How will you celebrate?

Boxes Full of Memories

For the last few years, as Scott and I have traveled to family history conferences around the country with Family Photoloom, we’ve talked to hundreds, maybe thousands, of people about their family history pictures. We’ve learned that one of the biggest challenges folks face is getting their photos and documents digitized. Some don’t know the first thing about how to scan photos, but most simply lack the time or resources. Many note that they are looking for someone they can trust to do the job professionally, but are reluctant to mail their priceless memories across the country, or, heaven forbid, halfway around the world.

iPreserve NWEnter iPreserve. We were first introduced to iPreserve when we met McKay Murdock, the manager of the St. George iPreserve, at the St. George Family History Expo last March. As he explained to us, iPreserve is a national chain of independently owned franchises, dedicated to digitizing family history.

iPreserve is a localized service, so there is no need to mail anything anywhere.  They come to you.  They sit down with you, explain your digitizing options for whatever media you have, and take the time to find out exactly what you want done. Then they convert everything onto DVD or CD, either in your home or in their labs.  They have the most awesome equipment for doing the best possible job, too.

It took Scott about a minute (and me a minute more) to decide that iPreserve was the answer we’d been looking for.  Within the month, we had made the decision to expand the scope of Photoloom LLC – and signed the papers to purchase the first iPreserve franchise in the Pacific Northwest (which we ingeniously named…get ready….iPreserve NW).

We are really excited about this new adventure!   iPreserve dovetails perfectly with Family Photoloom, and provides a solid, viable solution to an important, but often overwhelming problem facing family historians – or anyone really – who has media that predates the digital world. (Isn’t that just about everyone?)

We’ve always been in the business of preserving memories. Now we have a practical way to address that process from start to finish. We knew going into this venture that it would be rewarding, and though our iPreserve franchise has only been up and running for a short while, it’s already clear that even we underestimated both the need and the rewards of such a service.

It seems like the moment I broach the subject with someone, a misty look will inevitably cross their face, and then they’ll say something like, “I’ve got this box of slides that used to belong to my Dad…” or “I have all these old movies in a box in the basement…”

Just yesterday, I had that experience myself.  I watched an 8mm movie of my seven-year old self from Christmas 1970.  I’ve never seen it before – I guess it got tucked away right after being developed, and it didn’t see light of day again until Scott converted it. It has the best footage of my cat, Shelia, on it.  And a moment where my Mom is really, truly happy.  That probably doesn’t mean much to you, but it means a lot to me.

And that’s the thing – these memories, they are precious reminders of a life well-lived. All people want to do is see them again, and save them for their families. We do that for them – both iPreserve NW and Family Photoloom – and it’s great.  I couldn’t ask for more.

If you live in the Portland area and would like to contact us about converting your media, please contact us at (503) 628-2228, or visit our iPreserveNW Facebook page and leave us a message.   Or check out the iPreserve website to find a location near you.

Jump into Summer

Family History Today - Four of my daughters and one of my favorite nieces jump into summer at the Astoria Column on the Oregon Coast!

Last night, while my friend Cheryl and I were sitting in my driveway watching the kids blow up things, we got to talking.

“I once had a friend who said that one of the guys in KISS was her cousin,” Cheryl told me.

“Yeah,” I said, “I had a friend who said she was related to Jesse James.” (Aren’t we all?)

Cheryl went on, “The same girl told me that she had a cousin in Bachman Turner Overdrive when they went through town. In fact, I think she may have had a cousin in every band that played in the 70’s.”

We both laughed. Everyone knows someone who has a “cousin.”

Family history is full of legends and lies. And there are plenty of articles with great advice on how to slog through them in pursuit of your family facts – Cyndi’s List has a whole section dedicated to collecting oral history.  But today is about taking the road less traveled.   Today is about embracing the legends and loving the lies.*

Lucy & Wayne Hancock

Lucy & Wayne Hancock (note the Bible Wayne is holding)

Take my Grandfather Hancock.  (This is, by the way, the first time in my life that I have ever referred to him as my Grandfather.  Anywho…)  He left my grandma, thirty-one and pregnant, high and dry with seven children at the height of the Depression. That’s a fact. My dad, the youngest, never met his biological father. That’s a fact too. But it is at the line where fact meets legend that Grandpa Hancock gets interesting. Wayne Hancock, so the story goes, was a traveling preacher, and would be gone from his family for months at a time. When I was thirteen, I overheard my Dad and a few of his siblings speculating at a family reunion that their father probably had another family “up river” somewhere. Maybe even two! Scandalous – yes. Intriguing – absolutely!

Then there’s his genealogy. Family reports suggest that Wayne was anywhere from eight to fifty percent Blackfoot, but exhaustive research has yet to unearth even one Native American in his line. Oh, and that claimed relation to Declaration signer John? Also unsubstantiated as of today. (Though I admit that I’m still holding out hope on that one.) And finally, even his name is still up for debate: half the family will put their hand on the Bible and swear his middle name was Tecumseh, named for the 19th century Shawnee leader. Cool, huh? But no record supports this, and census records indicate that his middle name began with an “F” and not a “T.” Those who cling to the myth simply dismiss the disparity, blaming Spencerian scrawl.

My point is, yes, I recognize that 98% this is richly embellished family folklore.  But somewhere, under most family stories is a kernel of truth; it just takes the time and dedication to peel away the outer layers of malarkey.  And if even no truth is found when you get to the center, the story still bears recording somewhere (albeit far from the Fact File).  Because whether they are about royalty or riches, rock stars or rogues, these stories are little threads woven into our family fabric.  These stories, and what we think about them, say something not only about their subjects, but about who we really are.  They tell a truth of a different kind.

*Note:  Unfortunately, some family stories are simply hurtful.  Stop them.  This post isn’t in any way about perpetuating painful gossip.

15-Minutes Family History: Consider one family legend.  What are the details of the story?  Do you remember where you first heard it?  Does the family disagree on the “facts”?  What do you think?  Record these things in a journal or other appropriate place; just be sure to note the nature of the entry!

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

SALT LAKE CITY—Recipients of the 2010 FamilySearch Software Awards were announced at the FamilySearch Developers Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. The 14 recipients were recognized for their outstanding and innovative work in advancing products and technologies that integrate with FamilySearch’s emerging suite of products and services.

The annual FamilySearch Software Awards has been established to encourage and recognize software development that benefits the growing demands and needs of family history consumers. “The awards formally recognize the software achievements of those developers and companies that are making important contributions to the family history and genealogy industry,” said Gordon Clarke, FamilySearch developer services product manager.

The Best New Product awards were given to applicants in different platform categories. Products with specific features deemed important to the growth of the industry received the Best New Feature award. Community Player awards recognized individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the software developer community.

The following recipients were announced and awards presented at the FamilySearch Developers Conference:

Best New Product Awards

  • The MagiKey for the “Best New Windows” product
  • Arcalife for the “Best New Web site”
  • MobileTree for “Best New Mobile” product
  • FamilyInsight for “Best New Macintosh” product

Best New Feature Awards

  • OurFamilogy for “Best Research” feature
  • SharingTime for “Best Collaboration” feature
  • Genetree for “Best DNA” feature
  • Ancestral Hunt for the “Best Geo-Mapping” feature
  • FamilyPursuit for the “Best Groups” feature
  • Family Photoloom for the “Best Media” feature
  • Family ChArtist for “Best Print” feature
  • AppleTree for the “Best Celebrity Tree” feature

Community Player Awards:

  • Gaylon Finlay, Incline Software, “Bug Hunter” award
  • Michael Booth and Bruce Buzbee, Roots Magic, “Trailblazer” award

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons can access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

We first began offering LIFETIME Premium  Membership six months ago as a “Show Only” special at family history events.  Folks especially like the idea of paying a one-time membership fee for a lifetime of great, unlimited Family Photoloom service.  Now it’s become so popular that we’ve decided to start offering it to everyone – online!

Lifetime Premium Members receive:

  • No Yearly Membership Fee
  • Unlimited Image Uploading
  • Unlimited Guests
  • “No Ads” option / larger image-viewing field
  • 5 Gigabytes of Storage
  • Personalized URL (i.e., http://www.familyphotoloom.com/smith) [upon request]

Both yearly and Lifetime Premium Membership are available on our website, and it takes just seconds to join.   We now accept payments through Paypal (you don’t need a Paypal account), so you can rest assured that your personal information is safe and secure. Click here to get started.

MyHeritage posted their list of top 100 Genealogy blogs recently, and I’m so excited that Above the Trees is first on their list.  (Granted, it is an alphabetical list, but I’ll take what I can get!)

    “Recently at MyHeritage.com we’ve been scanning the web, evaluating content, and identifying some of the best genealogy sites on the internet right now. We put a focus on finding hidden gems in the community, so there’s a good chance that some of these are sites you won’t have seen before. It’s a testament to the vibrancy of the online genealogy community that even this selection of 100 sites had to leave out a lot of quality content. Nevertheless, these are the 100 we came up with, presented in alphabetical order. We hope you enjoy reading them.”
    ~ MyHeritage website

Let me be the first to admit that this list is neither exhaustive nor objective:  there are great sites – even industry leaders – that are not included.  But as mentioned in the preceding quote, this list focuses on the hidden gems of the genealogy world, and I am honored that Above the Trees is included as one of those gems.  I encourage you to drop by their website and check out the other ninety-nine blogs on the list – if you do, I am sure you will uncover hidden treasures of your own.