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Happy Anniversary, Woodmere!
July 14, 2018 By: Gail Hershenzon
Today marks the 149th anniversary of the opening of Woodmere.  It was a gala event-the mayor, dignitaries, clergymen, businessmen, and common folk gathered at Woodmere after an early rain in the day.  There were speeches, and prayers, and more speeches, and like a proud papa, John Bagley and a host of others opened the gates of Woodmere to the public.  People came in carriages and some trodded through the mud.  It was truly a rural cemetery back then with that part of Springwells Township which would not see being incorporated into the city of Detroit until 1906.  Times have changed and so has the cemetery.  Many headstones have disappeared or have fallen and have been covered over with inches of soil, with many visitors unaware of what lies beneath their feet.  People have committed suicide at Woodmere.  Graves have been robbed at Woodmere.  Mausoleums and headstones have been vandalized at Woodmere.  And yet it has survived for all these years, laying to rest the dearly beloved, only to have their stories and their secrets go with them.
But still it remains a thing of beauty and if you visit on a crisp fall day, you will see the plethora of trees trade in their green leaves for golden ones.  You will see the ducks scrambling for a morsel of food in Woodmere Lake.  You will still see the older folk carrying on the traditions of early ancestors who thought decorating the graves was something one should do.  So happy birthday! Woodmere.  May you see another 149 years.   

Times Have Changed
June 20, 2018 By: Gail Hershenzon
While browsing the newspaper archives, I came across the above advertisement.  It seems everyone had their hands in the cemetery business not that long ago.  This ad appeared in the Detroit Free Press on June 17, 1981.  And I will say the prices were certainly much cheaper than today.  But it also shows how so many stores have gone away and I think Montgomery Ward was one of the first.  That is the place we always shopped when I was a kid and for some reason, it was nicknamed Monkey Wards.  I am sure that the cemeteries may have had something to do with getting out of the headstone/monument business since that would cut into their profits.  But who knew that they had sold items such as this--and we think Wal-Mart was one of the first to carry everything under the sun.
RootsTech-View From Home
February 28, 2018 By: Gail Hershenzon
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Watch RootsTech from home (starts today!), learn how to find answers in elusive records, and use Google Photos to create a best-of album in Memories.
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Body Rolls Down Bank
February 24, 2018 By: Gail Hershenzon
From the Detroit Free Press, April 12, 1908:  "Train Lurches at Wrong Time--Women Faint Away  Wheeling, W. Va., April 11-At Sandstone, a small station on the Chesapeake & Ohio railroad, two score frineds and relatives mourning at the coffin of John Cox were horrified to see the body leave the casket and roll down a fifty-foot embankment.  Services had been held on the station platform, and the pallbearers were placing the casket in a baggage car for removal to Green Sulphur for interment, when the train suddenly lurched and the box fell to the tracks.  The fall caused it to burst and the body rolled out and down the embankment.  Several women, not realizing what had happened, and belieiving the dead had come to life, fainted.  Another box was telegraphed for, but the interment was delayed several hours.
More on Salt Lake City
February 21, 2018 By: Gail Hershenzon
I talked with another staff member to confirm if the microfilm is actually burned after it has been put online and she thought not.  She felt a backup would be needed in case the Internet sailed off into space and was never heard from again.  Also, the agreement that they made when filming the records may prohibit the microfilm be destroyed.  You decided who is right.
As much as I love the idea of staying in the comfort of my own home to do research, traveling to a local history center or back to Salt Lake City is still needed.  Some film that has been digitalized may only be available on FHC computers.  Again, I like the idea of getting away and concentrating only on genealogy.  I found my final set of great-great-grandparents and another fourth-great grandmother.  But when I came home and looked online, in that short time, LDS had put more records online and there were some more elusive relatives......which means going back to Salt Lake City since the records are only available on microfilm. 
After spring break, that is usually when the Salt Lake City library starts getting jammed.  When I went, there were many people there, but there was never ever having to wait in line to use the copiers.  I also had the attention of the librarians at the information desks whose time is never idle but yet always gave me the time I needed for them to help me translate those old German manuscripts.   I also met a couple who were from California and we exchanged tips in researching.  It truly is worth the trip in going and staying at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel right next to the library makes your visit easy.  No need to rent a car unless you plan on taking in some sight-seeing while there.  And there is a Cheesecake Factory within walking distance!  So pick a date, and go.  It is worth the trip.
Salt Lake City Research
February 12, 2018 By: Gail Hershenzon
This is my tenth trip to Salt Lake City to do a week's worth of research at the Mormon library.  They are quickly adding more and more records on their website for researchers to be able to stay home and search the same records that sometimes would take hours to find by combing the microfilm.  So why keep coming?  One thing, you get away from the duties of home--no laundry staring you in the face or errands to run.  Coming here commits you to hours of research without feeling guilty about not doing something else.  Also, you have the assistance of a plethora of staff who cheerfully interpret records or lead you to a new place to look for that evasive relative.  If you don't want to use a thumb drive to record your findings, copies are either 5 or 10 cents.  In talking with one of the staff, not all records will be able to be accessed online from home.  Some of the copyright agreements do not allow all records to be put online.  Some you can have access but only by going to your local family history center.   
 So what happens to the film after they digitalize them?  They burn them according to a staff member.  There is going to be a day when their gigantic vault will no longer be necessary or the five-floor library will not be a destination place.  Genealogy has a new face now.  There was a time when the discovery of a much looked for record would bring such satisfaction when succeeding in finding it.  Now, in a matter of a secord and a click of the mouse, that record pops up.  There is something to be said for taking the longer route in discovering who you are.  One doesn't have to be a professional researcher any more to be able to find the records that only a professional would have the knowledge to look. 

The Death of a Dear, Dear Cousin
December 6, 2017 By: Gail Hershenzon
Norma was 92 years old when she passed away last Saturday.  A few years after I got into researching my past, I attended a Dearborn Genealogical Society meeting.  As is the custom, I was asked to give the surnames of those I was researching.  There, in the back row, was Norma and it turned out, our common ancestor was our great-great grandfather.  Her great grandfather was the oldest son of that great-great grandfather and my great grandfather was the youngest son, a span of about 20 years in age.  Norma was one of the kindest people you could meet.  She was great in recalling stories of the relatives who had left this earth long before I was born.  Even though she and I were about 27 years apart, she treated me like I was her equal and simply enjoyed the time we spent together.  There was a time when two other distant cousins joined us in monthly Sunday get-togethers and it was such a joy hearing someone tell a family story only to be corrected by one of the others.  I'm missing you, Norma, but I cannot thank you enough for the family information you shared over the years and simply your kindness in welcoming me into the family that I would never had known if it had not been for you.  You have been welcomed into the open arms of the Savior you love so much. 
Spooky Places Around Detroit
October 20, 2017 By: Gail Hershenzon
If you want to read about some spooky places around Detroit, check out Hour Magazine's October 2017 issue:
Family Search Indexing This Weekend!
October 17, 2017 By: Gail Hershenzon
Help do your part by giving back to the genealogy world this weekend:
Only 5 Days Left to Join the Cause!
During 72 hours from October 20 to 22, help index records to help families worldwide find their ancestors and make new family connections. During this event, you will type information from historical records using a web-based program to make them searchable online.
Imagine someone finding a long-lost ancestor because of the work you do during this year’s event!
Join the cause
Rick Danes, You Rock!
October 14, 2017 By: Gail Hershenzon
Today at Woodmere Cemetery, Rick Danes and his fellow Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War accompanied by Robinson's Battery, 1st Michigan Light Artillery, Battery C, dedicated a headstone for Private Henry Palmer, Batteries C and I, 1st Michigan Light Artillery.  They do an authentic Civil War dedication, fully dressed in their wool uniforms, and are joined by the playing of Taps, prayers, a biological sketch of Pvt. Palmer and ladies dressed in Civil War era dresses serving refreshments.  Also, they fired an authentic cannon three times which caused car alarms to go off and attracted the fire department.  Evidently, a neighbor of the cemetery saw the huge billow of smoke, plus hearing the noise, decided a call to 9-1-1- was needed.  All in all, it was a terrific service with the honoring of a soldier who may have been forgotten long ago but was remembered by many today. 
Detroit's Woodmere Cemetery by Gail D. Hershenzon Image: Photo 7 Image: Photo 2 Image: Vintage Family Photo 2 Image: Photo 6 Image: Photo 5 Michigan Memorial Park by Gail D. Hershenzon