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Vernor's--Just Not the Same
May 18, 2017 By: Gail Hershenzon
We had a great time last Saturday driving and walking around Woodmere hearing and telling stories of those whose last residence is now at the cemetery.  Some gravesites are always visited, and that includes that of James Vernor, the creator of Vernor's Ginger Ale.  All through the years, we remember the 'barrel aged 4 years' tagged on the can or bottle.  Then it changed to 3 years, then 6 months.  The last I remember, it simply said barrel aged.  Now, they don't even say that.  That could be because the formula is simply that: a formula.  The ingredients for the regular Ginger Ale says carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup (one of the worst things you can put into your body), citric acid, sodium benoate (preservative), caramel color, natural and artificial flavors.  The diet version is even worse:  carbonated water, aspartame (that certainly has been in the news and not for being nutritional), citric acid, caramel color, sodium benzoate (preservative), natural and artifical flavors, potassium citrate. PHENYLKETONURICS: CONTAINS PHENYLALANINE.  Poor James.  I am sure that noise we heard was him turning over in his grave.  Shame on the American Bottling Company for allowing such a change in the recipe.  Not an ounce of ginger in sight. 
Abandoned Places, Abandoned Records
March 20, 2017 By: Gail Hershenzon
This is not the first article I have read about abandoned funeral homes or even churches or cemeteries. 
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2016-jan-inside-an-abandoned-downtown-funeral-home  What disturbs me is that so many of these places can be the source that may solve a mystery or two for genealogists.  Old businesses, old buildings, old records--all provide significant information that help us construct our ancestors' lives.  A record book, at one time, in Woodmere's records gave places of birth.  There were a couple where a state or country was not given, but instead, for place of birth it said 'Atlantic Ocean.'  What a find if one had been searching all over for a birth record.  It may be up to us to rescue these records (following the proper procedures)--they can be donated to museums, libraries, historical societies, etc.
Woodmere Photographs Stolen
February 4, 2017 By: Gail Hershenzon
It is a very sad day when photographs of the cemetery displayed in its buildings are stolen.  Fortunately, they are duplicates but for someone to have the audacity to take something that does not belong to them and to deny others seeing what the cemetery looked like so many decades ago is very disgusting.  To have to lock everything down is absurd.  Who knows who took them?  Was it the person who inquired about the history of the cemetery?  Was it the person who is writing about a somewhat famous person buried here and stole them for their book?  I get inquiries all the time about Woodmere and its history but to steal something that is a pictoral history of this historic cemetery is so appaling.  So if you see these photographs (originally in black frames) or if you were the one who did it, please have the decency to put them back. 
A Funny Item in the Detroit Free Press
January 24, 2017 By: Gail Hershenzon
"A suicder at Laporte made a will leaving "his darned old wife the rope with which he hung himself."  The Detroit Free Press, February 8, 1873
1941 Death Certificates
January 23, 2017 By: Gail Hershenzon
At www.seekingmichigan.org, the 1941 death certificates are now available.
Handwriting Help
January 23, 2017 By: Gail Hershenzon
Trying to read old documents in a foreign language can be frustrating but rewarding when one is finally able to decipher the words.  There is a tutorial by Brigham Young University that can help in this area.  Go to https://script.byu.edu/Pages/home.aspx and click on the language with which you need help. 
LDS Library, Salt Lake City
January 22, 2017 By: Gail Hershenzon
If it has been over a year that you have visited the LDS library in Salt Lake City, you will be pleasantly surprised at the changes they have made when you first walk in.  The information desk has been moved to the left and the space behind the former information desk has been remodeled.  There are still many, many computers but the area has been designed to get people hooked on doing genealogy who have not been interested in doing so.  They will officially open this area February 6, 2017.  While there, they will help you get started in your journey and they have added some really cool things like a green screen.  You can stand in front of the green screen after finding a photograph of the homeland of your ancestors.  They will take your photograph then to make it look like you are standing in that country.
Everything else has remained the same.  And the missionaries/librarians are just as helpful as ever.  While there, I found out that they have loaded some software on every computer, such as Legacy 8, so you don't even have to bring your own laptop.  Just put your files on a thumb drive and take it with you--it doesn't get much easier than that.  Also, a few tidbits I found out from one of them is that even though they had received permission to microfilm the thousands of rolls of film, to put them online required getting permission all over again.  Just think about the time that took them to make this available for free for us to search (now, go do some indexing for them as a way to say 'thank you').  There are still some signatures they need to get to make all of their records available but they are working on it.
One librarian told me about archion.de which is a catalog of church records for the Lutheran churches in Germany.  Part of the website will translate into English but you might need some help from someone who can read German to navigate this website.  But it is a great resource.  I was also told that German churches which are now in Poland, have their records in the archives in Berlin.  That is one resource where they are trying to get permission to put these records online.  But remember, if you go directly to the LDS library in Salt Lake City, those films are available and you can still order the films to come to your local FHC. 
Also, for those looking for death certificates for Michigan, you are aware of www.seekingmichigan.org where you can find Michigan death certificates for 1897-1940.  1941 should be popping up shortly.  However, if you search a name for someone who died, say in 1970, you will see a film number.  I don't know if they will transfer those films to local FHCs but they are available at the LDS library.  I got quite a few this trip which saves waiting for them to show up on www.seekingmichigan.org or paying over $30 per certificate.
If you have never been to Salt Lake City, it is a worthwhile trip.  You can stay at the hotel right next to the library (Salt Lake Plaza) which is now owned by the Mormon church.  Also, there is a great museum in Salt Lake City within walking distance of the library, the Leonardo.  Every year they have a special exhibit.  I have seen the Dead Sea Scrolls, an exhibit on mummies, and this year, they had a special exhibit on flight.  There is also an indoor/outdoor mall which has some typical stores such as Apple, Nordstroms, Macy's, Papyrus, etc. and a food court and a couple other restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory.        
23andMe Results
January 9, 2017 By: Gail Hershenzon
I received my 23andMe DNA results in a matter of three weeks.  They do send a lot of reports--some of which mean absolutely nothing and have no value to me.  However, it confirmed what I already know but it did add a few tidbits that will help me with my research when I go to Salt Lake City in a couple weeks (Janiuary-February is a great time to use the library there--they have fewer visitors at that time than during the spring or summer so access to printers and librarian help is ideal).  I had discounted leads to those with the family name that were in places I didn't think my ancestors could possibly have been, but now I will check those again to see where that leads me.  Was it worth $200?  I guess but I think I would have stumbled upon my ancestors' connections without it.  They gave me lot of reports with information I already knew--"There's a good chance you are fair skinned." (I am.)  "There's a 73% chance you have red hair."  (I do.)  They do have a list of possible relatives but many of them listed are anonymous and most have surnames of Smith, Jones, and other common names which I have yet to find in my search.
Late notice but at the Wayne Public Library on January 11, a presentation by Tyler Moll, a Wayne Historical Museum Intern and Easter Michigan History Graduate, will be sharing how to research the history of your home of neighborhood.  Call the library at (734) 721-7832.

23 and Me
December 5, 2016 By: Gail Hershenzon
So after Christmas shopping for everyone else, I decided that this year I would treat myself to a present.  After resisting the temptation for a long time to have DNA testing done, I just placed my order with "23 and Me."  I waffled between the $99 and the $199 packages but decided to splurge on the $199 one.  Knowing that sometimes when one goes the cheaper route, there is buyers' remorse.  We are living in a time when what today's genealogists have are privy to was never even dreamed of twenty years ago.  And I think of a Mrs. Jaeger in Ohio, who in the 1930s stated she had traced her family all the way back to Adam--and she did not have have the tools we have available today.  Whether she was telling the truth is debatable but maybe, if someone out there has been on the fence like I was about spending so much money on testing, this is the time to reconsider.  It may open more opportunities than we could possible dream of.       
Another Preservation Project
November 5, 2016 By: Gail Hershenzon
Another preservation project is to save the Thayer School in Northville Township.  Read below for more information.
The Friends of Northville Township Historic District Commission (FNTHDC), a 501.c.3 organization, is holding a fundraiser on Saturday, November 12, 2016 at the Northville District Library, 212 West Cady Street, Northville, MI, from 6:30-9:30pm. The FNTHDC is attempting to raise funds for the restoration of Thayer School House, with the ultimate goal to provide school children with an educational experience and the public a special place to meet.
    Thayer School sits at the corner of 6 Mile and Napier Roads. Built in 1877, it is the only remaining one-room schoolhouse in our township and the original educational facility for settlers of Northville Township. It is one of the few one-room brick schoolhouses in southeast Michigan. This slice of Northville Township is where Rufus Thayer and half a dozen pioneers settled the area in 1830. He died on his homestead and was buried with his family in the Thayer’s Cemetery, which surrounds the school house, built later by Thayer descendants.
    Thayer School and the surrounding Thayer Cemetery are protected as an historic district in our township. The schoolhouse will be donated to Northville Township by Arbor Hills landfill, which has been a generous partner with the FNTHDC in protecting and maintaining the school property. Volunteers have cleaned the building and structural restoration is set to begin in the next few weeks, as well as installation of a schoolhouse bell. The Friends group was able to purchase a school bell made in Northville at the turn of the century by the American Bell Foundry.
    The Friends group welcomes residents of Northville and Salem, those residents surrounding the school, as well as former students, to the “Ring the Bell for Thayer’s School” at its November fundraiser. The FNTHDC will display the bell for attendees. Appetizers from Rocky’s, desserts from LuLu’s Catering, as well as beverages will be served. Entertainment will be provided by the Shawn Riley Band. There will be a competition/silent auction of gingerbread school houses made by local professional and amateur chefs to celebrate our heritage, with judging by local professional chefs and celebrities. Television access for football games will be available.
    Tickets are $40/person or $75/couple if purchased by November 1st, and are tax deductible. They can be ordered from Eventbrite at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/2nd-annual-ring-the-bell-for-thayer-school-tickets-27569074845 (click on the link to purchase your ticket), or by calling any member of the Friends of Northville Township Historic District Commission.  Check our Facebook page, Friends of Northville Township HDC, for more information or call Marjorie Banner at 248-348-5102.
Detroit's Woodmere Cemetery by Gail D. Hershenzon Image: Photo 1 Image: Photo 8 Image: Vintage Family Photo 1 Image: Photo 6 Image: Photo 7 Michigan Memorial Park by Gail D. Hershenzon