Episode 202 - “The Great Grandfather That Never Was” / “The Archive Lady” On What You Might Find Behind Closed Doors

podcast episode Aug 06, 2017

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  The guys begin the conversation with word of a milestone achieved by MyHeritage.com (one of the show’s sponsors). MyHeritage now has 8 billion records in their SuperSearch archives! David then reveals how a search for what do to with old pants pulled up a story about the discovery of the world’s oldest known trousers… from 3,000 years ago! Catch the details on the podcast. Then, DNA has again given us a remarkable discovery: The modern day identity of the people known in the Bible as the Canaanites! David will tell you who they are today. Next, a body has been found in Ohio… and you won’t believe how old it is! And finally, David talks about the recent discovery of bodies in a mass grave in London dating back nearly 500 years. He’ll explain the significance.

Then, Fisher visits with blogger Kate Porter of Slatersville, Rhode Island. The author of genijourney.com talks about how her preconceived ideas concerning the life of her nomadic great grandfather changed as she got to know him through the records and other relatives.

Fisher next visits with archivist Melissa Barker from Houston County, Tennessee. Melissa was something of a reluctant archivist when she first took the job of setting up an archive in her county. Now called the “Archive Lady,” Melissa offers great stories from her own archives and advice on what you might find in archives tied to your family lines through materials typically not yet found on line.

Then, it’s Preservation time with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. Tom walks through a problem presented by a listener email about a century old large photo in a frame that is flaking apart.  What does Tom recommend to save this treasure? Listen to the podcast.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 202

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 202

Fisher: Welcome back! It’s America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And this segment of the show is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. On the guest list today Kate Porter from Slatersville, Rhode Island is coming on. She’s a great blogger and [Laughs] has written a series of articles about the “Great grandfather that never was.” And she’ll explain what that means and where her research led her and some really interesting stories involved with that one. And then later in the show a lady who is, I’d guess you’d call her a reluctant archivist. Yes she was a professional genealogist and kind of got roped into being an archivist for a small county in Tennessee. She calls herself the “Archive lady.” You’re going to love hearing from Melissa Barker and what she’s learned about archives since she took on this new task and what you can get from it as well. That’s later on in the show. Hey, by the way congratulations to Mary Lore. She is the winner of David Allen Lambert’s free one hour consultation. For being a subscriber to our weekly “Genie Newsletter” you can sign up at ExtremeGenes.com or through our Extreme Genes Facebook page. And by the way if by the end of August you are a subscriber, you’re eligible for a drawing for a Heritage Collector Suite of Software. And this stuff is incredible. You can take photos with it, you can get yourself organized, eliminate duplicate photos, there are slide shows, you can find photos in seconds and this is like an $80 value. So get signed up at ExtremeGenes.com. The “Weekly Genie” is absolutely free and we’d love to have you as part of that community. Right now let us head out to Beantown and my good friend David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.

Fisher: How are you David?

David: I’m doing great Fish. How about yourself?

Fisher: Awesome! In fact, looking forward to seeing you soon in Boston.

David: I know Beantown will never be the same with two of us in the same place. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Exactly.

David: I’m going to start our Family Histoire News with a shout out to our friends at MyHeritage.com. They’ve recently announced they have surpassed 8 billion searchable records on their super search.

Fisher: Sweet!

David: So Congratulations to the people at My Heritage.

Fisher: Yes, very nice.

David: A lot of times on genealogy I search on genes and genetics and DNA. Well, I was searching on old jeans. I mean blue jeans.

Fisher: You’re talking J-E-A-N-S.

David: Yeah.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: I’ve been losing weight because I’ve been trying to get more healthy and a lot more walking. So I’m thinking, “What am I going to do with these old jeans that don’t fit me anymore?” And I discovered a story from 2014 about the discovery of the oldest known trousers in the world.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Under “jeans.” Apparently a team of archaeologists in Western China uncovering the remains of two Nomadic herders came across a 3000-year old pair of pants with woven pattern.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Needless to say you never think your jeans are wearing out while these must have survived pretty well. So I’d like to find out who made them.

Fisher: Wow! That’s unbelievable. Did they have Levi stitched at the back?

David: I don’t know but I’ll tell you something if they do, Levi needs to market a new set of them to sell to people.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes.

David: 3000 years of wear and still wearing fine.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: My next story is a real DNA story this time. This story is about ancient DNA of the Canaanites. The Canaanites were a biblical people mentioned in the Old Testament. Well, recently burials from about 3000/4000 years ago were discovered and they’re now being able to extract DNA. They found, Fish that the descendents of these ancient Canaanites are pretty much the people who now live in Lebanon.

Fisher: The Lebanese are the Canaanites. Yeah they were saying something like 90% of their DNA came from the Canaanites. I guess they had like five different bodies they found from 3000 years ago. And they were able to extract DNA from behind the ear. It’s like the hardest part of the skull. It’s a fairly recent discovery that this area basically keeps a little time capsule of DNA, so people can capture that now and match it up to living individuals. How incredible is that?

David: Ah, it’s pretty amazing. Speaking of finding bodies, a body of a 12th century Native American was found in Ohio by a field hunter for arrow heads while searching down by the Mohawk dam. Last month, a man who was out basically looking for arrowheads stumbled upon these human remains and it turns out they weren't of a recent murder, so they don't have to call the detective work of Fisher here.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: This is a 900 year old burial.

Fisher: Wow! So we're talking 12th century here.

David: Um hmm. The local Native Americans who live in this area of Ohio will no doubt take a great interest and see the remains repatriated and buried on native land.

Fisher: Absolutely.

David: In jolly old England back in the days of the plague, thousands upon thousands of people were buried in mass graves. Some of these graves in the new church yard are Bedlam Burial Ground in London have an estimated 25,000 people buried there. They've already cataloged and done a database of over 5000 people that have been found on the site. So think about this, we're not talking thousands of years ago. We're talking hundreds of years ago. So if you had an ancestor who lived in London during the era of the plague, it’s quite possibly you could be getting a GEDmatch in a database someday of, "Hey, Bob was found in London and he'd like to connect with you."

Fisher: [Laughs] And we're talking, what, from the 1500s?

David: 1500s, 1600s during the Great Plague.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Yeah. And starting around 1569, the cemetery existed, so yeah, I mean it’s possible these are people that have descendants who came over to the colonies years later. So you may have an ancestor that they've recently dug up, so stay tuned.

Fisher: That's incredible. And by the way, the story is found on our website, ExtremeGenes.com. You can see some incredible pictures from this.

David: Today's blogger spotlight goes out to my good friends with The In-depth Genealogist. And on the blog, TheIndepthGenealogist.com/blog, you'll find interesting stories, including their weekly chit chat on genealogy. Well, the story I loved was the one just recently posted called, "The dog days of summer." And on this, they talk about family pets.

Fisher: Oh, good call.

David: So that's one that you might try. In fact, the recent issue of American Ancestors, we talk about family pets, so I thought there was a nice little connection there. Well, that's all I have for this week. But don't forget, if you're not a member of American Ancestors, NEHGS offers you a free guest membership or if you decide to join, save $20 off the price by remembering "Extreme" brought to you by Extreme Genes. I'll see you soon in Beantown, Fish.

Fisher: All right. Thanks so much, David. And coming up next, we're going to go out to Slatersville, Rhode Island and talk to Kate Porter. She's a blogger, talking about "The Great Grandfather That Never Was" and her journey to discover him. She found out a little more than I think she bargained for. That's coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 202

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kate Porter

Fisher: Welcome back! It’s America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It’s Fisher here and this segment is brought to you by 23andMe.comDNA. And you know, when we become genealogical detectives we often go into a certain case dealing with tracing down an ancestor which certain assumptions. And that happened to my friend Kate Porter, she is the Author of the blog GenieJourney.com and recently wrote about this, “The Great Grandfather That Never Was.” She’s in Slatersville, Rhode Island. Hi Kate, how are you? Welcome to Extreme Genes!

Kate: Hi. Good. How are you?

Fisher: Awesome! This is a great little article and I love kind of the progress that you make and the updated pieces that you documented as you went along this journey. Let’s talk about the beginning. Who were you looking for and what were the assumptions?

Kate: So, the man I was looking for was Otto Stanley and he is my great grandfather on my father’s side. So I am not familiar with my father’s side because I actually did not grow up with him. But I still find it interesting to really track down his roots and more about him. So story has it, that Otto left his wife and his son, which is my grandfather, behind in Massachusetts because his wife was involved in some pretty illegal stuff, so I heard. What I heard is that he kind of just went over to Michigan and started to just live his life there. And I had thought that you know my grandfather was the only son and that he just married and had no children moving forward. So that was kind of my assumption.

Fisher: Sure.

Kate: My assumption was that he might have been a pretty decent guy and maybe he just kind of left because he had to.

Fisher: Well those things do happen.

Kate: Yeah.

Fisher: So you began the journey to look for this guy in Michigan, and what techniques did you use? 

Kate: I definitely used Ancestry.com obviously and the files that were available even just a few years back, there weren’t as many, right? So obviously they add a lot more files and records as the time goes on. So, all of a sudden you know a new entry came up and it included his marriage record to a woman named Lena Rondi. So, next I saw another record come up that really kind of threw me off right, it was another woman and this was prior to that marriage. So I started thinking you know, was this guy married to three women?

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kate: And this started to kind of put me down another path.

Fisher: And then your assumption started changing?

Kate: Yeah. My assumption started changing. So, as I was looking around actually for Otto’s siblings’ obituaries I found a couple. And I found one in particular that stated all of the children’s names. From there I started to use just Google and I realized that one of the children who was a son of this sibling of Otto, his middle name was Otto. 

Fisher: Ah ha! A little closeness there perhaps.

Kate: A little closeness there. So as I started to look through the obituary I started to notice the names of living members of the family. That’s when I started to use Facebook which is good and sometimes it doesn’t end up the way you want it. Some folks will answer you some folks wont. Luckily these folks who were in Canada who were my second cousins and second cousins once removed, they responded and kind of unravelling the story from there.

Fisher: All right. What did they tell you?

Kate: So they had told me that he definitely got married a second time Not only did he get married but he had a whopping five children from that marriage.

Fisher: Oh boy. Wow!

Kate: Yes. So, I began to see the pictures of them and it really struck me as a surprise because I just had no idea that he had this whole other family and never knew that my grandfather had all these half siblings out there. From there I had then found out that he had actually left that family too.

Fisher: Oh boy, so was a pattern now?

Kate: It was a pattern yes. And so he had left that family and actually ran off with the aunt of one of his son in laws.

Fisher: Oh! [Laughs] You know you can’t tell the players without the scorecard they always say at the baseball games right?

Kate: Yeah.

Fisher: And that’s the way it is in genealogy sometimes.

Kate: Oh my goodness yes. So that was quite a surprise. Now I guess I forgot to mention that prior to finding out about this family I found where he was buried. He was buried in Inglis, Florida and he was buried with his third wife. Now the sad thing that I saw about this headstone was that it did not show a death date for Otto. And I began to feel really kind of sad, right. I started to think, “Well maybe he just didn’t have anyone else to memorialize him after he was gone. Maybe Lena had passed before him. Maybe there was just no one else there to kind of wrap up that paperwork.”

Fisher: Sure.

Kate: So I started to feel bad and thoughts started to come around in my head to say you know even though I didn’t know this man, would it make sense to kind of close that story and fill in that date of that year? And then, lo and behold, less than a week later that is when I found out that not only did he have five children from another marriage, but he left them too the same way that he left my grandfather and technically the same way my father left me.

Fisher: Wow!

Kate: So it’s kind of a pattern. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, something that goes on the Y-chromosome side of your family.

Kate: [Laughs] Yes apparently. Only poor Charles, he never left. It definitely skipped a generation. So that’s when it hit me a bit you know, again I had this assumption that maybe he had to leave and he just led a quiet life thereafter and then I realized that he tended to make the same, I’d call it a mistake, again. So from there I did end up reaching out and found his one final last relative whose living. She was left when she was about seven years old. Which really struck me and it kind of broke my heart right.

Fisher: So it was your grand aunt?

Kate: Yes. Yes it is. So she is the last living child of Otto’s family including my grandfather who I never met. And I was able to get a lot of information from her daughter actually who was kind of the being middle between us.

Fisher: And was she aware of the existence of your grandfather?

Kate: Apparently she was, but only later on in life.

Fisher: Hmm.

Kate: Yeah. Yeah. So I think she hadn’t really thought too much about it because he had left so early. But she was and she received a few letters actually from my father’s side of the family kind of introducing themselves. So, this is news to me, but this was definitely something that she I guess had known but didn’t really pursue at a later age.

Fisher: Wow. So what did you do with the gravestone now? You’re feeling a little dilemma here I sense. It’s like wait a minute, do I want to memorialize this guy? He’s abandoned two families and six kids and who knows what else. What did you decide to do?

Kate: Yeah you know, as I started to think about it I started to think about how no matter he decided to do or chose to do, if it weren’t for him, as all several other people, I wouldn’t have been on this earth.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Kate: And maybe if he didn’t mess up maybe the other mess ups there after wouldn’t have occurred either. So he’s still human and it kind of made me sad to think that death date was just not on there and it wouldn’t be ever probably.

Fisher: Sure.

Kate: I mean I can’t. I know would probably think of doing that, so I contacted a local company and got a quote. [Laughs] It’s pretty expensive, but they got it done pretty quickly and now he rests with a final burial date.

Fisher: Wow! What a great story Kate, unbelievable journey. Now let me ask you this because I like to find out what other documents and photographs relatives have when I reach out to them. In fact, before the internet was really a big thing I did that a lot. You know you use things like directory assistance, and you’d write letters. Those are long paper things with a sticky flap on the back and you put a stamp on them and you put them in a thing called a mailbox. And you’d hopefully get a response and they would share photographs and documents. I got family bible records. Where you able to obtain anything relating to this branch of your family from some of these people?

Kate: Oh yes. So, not only did I receive a picture of him at the ripe old age of ninety seven years old.

Fisher: Whoa! [Laughs]

Kate: In a nursing home down in Florida, but I also received a photo of him and the family that he left not long after he did so. And really kind of looking at all their faces you see something’s going on with the family. I can just feel it. And so that’s actually on my blog as well. So I was able to get that photograph from the daughter of the last living child, and I also received the death certificate and the death notice. And here’s the kicker actually, when I had originally reached out to the local offices to enquire about getting his death date on his gravestone they had actually told me that they had no record of him being buried there at all, which threw me for a loop.

Fisher: Wow!

Kate: Because I started saying, “Where is this guy’s body buried?”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kate: And that was kind of a mystery question I put forth on that first blog, where is his body buried?

Fisher: Where’d they take him? Yeah.

Kate: Yes. [Laughs] Where is he? So, once I received this confirmation that he was in fact buried here by the remaining family who somehow had this information, it seemed to be that it was perhaps an error and maybe they just didn’t file the paperwork with the town. So I was relieved to know that he is in fact buried there and the services were held thereafter, the church services.

Fisher: Sure.

Kate: So I did receive a lot of information and it was just really interesting to know that the last living child had all this information just by her being left long ago. She actually now wants to meet me and she’s about eighty three years old.

Fisher: Oh how fun.

Kate: So that will be interesting. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yes. Here’s one question for you, did you ever calculate when he died, how old were you? Were you around yet?

Kate: I was actually. Let’s see, so I was seven years old.

Fisher: Seven years old. So theoretically you could have actually met this guy.

Kate: I could have, yeah, which is funny because many of my ancestors on that side I couldn’t have. They died rather early on.

Fisher: Sure.

Kate: So he’s one of the few that I definitely could have met. I think that’s kind of where my title came in because he just never was my great grandfather you know.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kate: And yeah, he still is you know.

Fisher: Yeah he is in one way but in other ways he’s not. That’s why you called it the Great Grandfather That Never Was. She’s Kate Porter, She’s from Rhode Island. She writes the Genie Journey. Go to GenieJourney.com and you can see some of the photos connected with that. Kate it’s been a pleasure having you on. I know you’re also involved with NextGen, right?

Kate: Well, I just got started by following them on Twitter and LinkedIn and my goal is after my genealogy research class through BU. I hope to reach out to them and get more involved.

Fisher: Awesome. Kate Porter from Slatersville, Rhode Island thanks for coming on and we look forward to keeping up with you Kate.

Kate: Thanks.

Fisher: And coming up next, we take you out to Huston County, Tennessee where you’re going to meet a lady named Melissa Barker. Melissa was a little hesitant about taking a job as an archivist locally. She’s a professional genealogist and it turned into something incredible. You’re going to want to hear her stories and how you can take advantage of archives, coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 202

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Melissa Barker 

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, it’s Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by FamilySearch.org. And you know, for a long time I’ve been reminding people, you know, if you’re getting into your family history research, into your genealogy, don’t just signup for a subscription somewhere. You’ve got to get out and get into the archives. And in the process of working on this show of course, I ran into a lady who calls herself, “The Archive Lady.” Her name is Melissa Barker. She’s in Houston County, Tennessee, and I’m in love with her little southern accent. How are you Melissa?

Melissa: I’m doing great Scott. How are you?

Fisher: Awesome. How long have you been The Archive Lady?

Melissa: I have been The Archive Lady for about six years now.

Fisher: Okay.

Melissa: Working in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives has just been a dream come true job.

Fisher: Really? Now, I remember you were telling me off air that this wasn’t the way you approached it when you first heard about this.

Melissa: Actually no. I’ll tell you a little story about how our archive was formed. In 2010 a local lady here was researching her genealogy and found that her grandfather had been murdered here on the streets of Houston County in 1921, and she had accessed the court records on microfilm, but she wanted to actually touch the original records. And how many of us genealogists want to touch those original records?

Fisher: Yes.

Melissa: And she was sent to the basement of the courthouse to the vault, and when she got there, she couldn’t get in the vault because the records were stored to the ceiling and to the door.

Fisher: Oh no. [Laughs]

Melissa: So she called several of her genealogy friends and we got together and started cleaning up the vault on this particular day. Went to lunch and decided we needed an archive to preserve our records. Our county had been formed in 1871 and nothing had been done with our records. And so they asked for a volunteer to head this up, so they all looked at me and said, “Oh, Melissa, you’re a professional genealogist, you know how to do this. You be the archivist.” I almost said no, and then I thought, well, maybe it might be interesting. And so I went back to school and got my certification in archive management, and as they say, the rest is archival history.

Fisher: Well you know, there is so much material that is not online. So much is not even on microfilm! I bet you have a lot of that stuff in your archives there.

Melissa: I do, and one of the first things that I ran across when we were organizing these records was a dog registration book.

Fisher: Really? [Laughs]

Melissa: Yes. Evidently, this is actually a mandate or a law that was in Tennessee, started way back in the 1800s, that if you owned a dog that was over six months old, you had to register that dog.

Fisher: Okay.

Melissa: And the book that we had is dated 1901 to 1919. You came into the county court clerk’s court office to register your dog. You had to give the dog’s name, a description of the dog’s breed, and then pay the tax. It started out being a dollar, and then by 1919 it was $3. But the interesting thing about this dog registration that I found out is all the money goes into what was called the sheep fund.

Fisher: The sheep fund?

Melissa: Like the animal. And when the local farmer had one of their sheep that was damaged or killed by a dog, they were able to recoup money from the sheep fund to purchase another sheep.

Fisher: So it’s like dog insurance, basically.

Melissa: [Laughs] Exactly. At the end of the year, if there was money left in the sheep fund, it would go to the school to purchase books and materials.

Fisher: Wow, what a clever idea. Somebody got to do that today.

Melissa: I can tell you, one of the most popular dog names in the registration book was Fido.

Fisher: Fido. [Laughs] Well that was Lincoln’s dog, right, so sure it would be popular at that point. What else have you found in there?

Melissa: I tell you, Scott, one of the most wonderful records to find, stories about your ancestors were court records, and you asked about finding relatives, well one of the wonderful things about working in this archives is that my husband’s family has lived in this area for over five generations, and every once in a while I run across a record that has to do with his family. And in 1945, his great grandfather, Walter Grey Barker, was divorcing his third wife, Ms Janie, and in the court records, it described his reason for the divorce, and that was because he felt like she was trying to kill him by putting a spider in his biscuit.

Fisher: [Laughs] I love that. There’s a little flavor for your family history.

Melissa: [Laughs] Yep. And then in another court record that I’d located from 1887, seems there was a scoundrel in town, a Mr John Elliot. He was brought up on charges of disturbing the peace, which is a fairly normal charge, but once I started reading the court case, he had taken a dead squirrel and tied it to a horse that was also attached to another horse and a buggy. This dead squirrel spooked that horse, and the horse and buggy went all through town, wreaking all sorts of havoc.

Fisher: [Laughs] I love that.

Melissa: One of the things I had found is we find artefacts. And a Mr William Hughes, he had been brought up on charges of going armed with a straight razor. A lot of times the court records are tri-folded put in these little sleeves.

Fisher: Sure.

Melissa: And after I had taken the documents out, I felt the folder and I thought that there was something else in there. And I looked in there and the actual straight razor from 1962 was in there.

Fisher: [Laughs] No! That’s amazing. Now were you able to maybe track down some of the descendants of this person?

Melissa: I did. I talked to his granddaughter, and she was very surprised to find out that her grandfather had done this. [Laughs]

Fisher: Oh really? She knew him well, probably.

Melissa: Yes, she did, and so, she was very surprised.

Fisher: So people come in there, obviously from out of town, you’re kind of a new archive then really, only six or seven years. What’s been the reaction so far to your efforts?

Melissa: Very positive, locally and for people coming in to our archives from out of state, because our little county is one of those counties you drive through to get somewhere else.

Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]

Melissa: We actually were very a big county back when the railroad was here. It’s one of those little stories about they pulled the railroad out and things kind of died out, but we have a lot of history in these small counties, and those people, their families grow up and they move off to other places, so when they research they families, they come back looking for those records.

Fisher: Exactly. You know, I think it’s important for people to realize that a lot of these archivists out there are like yourself. You love what you do, you’re happy to research it on behalf of people, as a service. I actually reached out to a lady in London with an email back about 15 years ago, and she actually went to an original book which had been digitized, because the date that was in by the crease in the centre of the book, I couldn’t read it, and I needed to know that date to prove that that was my person. The very next day I got an email back despite the time difference that validated that I had found my second great grandmother in this little book in London, because an archivist was there to help me.

Melissa: Yes. And one thing that helps with me is, I am a genealogist. I’ve been doing genealogy for 27 years, and so, I love working with genealogists, but most archivists do, they want to find that information for you. They love sharing the records that they have, and especially those ones that are not online or not on microfilm, because they’re usually the most precious and they hold the most stories.

Fisher: Right. Do you actually make copies for people or scan them for them periodically?

Melissa: Yes, we do both. You email us, and if we’re able to scan them and email them to you, we will be glad to do that. Or if you walk in the door, want a copy of what you find. we are glad to copy it.

Fisher: And that’s the way it is with an awful lot of archives around the country as well. What other advice would you have, Archive Lady, for people who have never been?

Melissa: I would just encourage them to contact either by phone or by email, or if you’re able to travel, go to these archives, ask the archivist about what’s behind those closed doors. Because many times these records are not sitting in front of you to look at that. A lot of these records are stored in back rooms on shelves. So talk to the archivist. Get to know the archivist there. Ask them about their records. What is not microfilmed? Ask them about their unprocessed records. We have records donated all the time, and we have so much to do in the day that we can’t get to them, and so, a lot of time they have to sit on the shelf for just a little while before we can process them, but if you walk in and ask what kind of unprocessed records do you have? You might find some gems.

Fisher: She’s Melissa Barker, she’s the Archive Lady in Houston County, Tennessee. It has been a delight, Melissa. Thanks so much for the advice and some great stories there.

Melissa: Thanks a lot, Scott, for having me on!

Fisher: All right. And Tom Perry is coming up next, our Preservation Authority, with more advice about how you can preserve your precious heirlooms. He’s been on the road, we’ll find out where he’s headed next, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes.

Segment 4 Episode 202

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And it is preservation time at Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here. And this segment is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. And Tom Perry is here from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority. How are you Tom?

Tom: Pretty good! Had a lot of fun down in Tucson last week, they're doing some new deals with the DVA which are really going to be exciting for people to get into. There's a new thing that they announced there that's called SMS messaging, and it’s cool! If you have like a lot of people in your family line, you can sign up for this and send everybody a text at one time saying, "Hey, we're going to be doing this. Hey, do you want to get together and do this?" So there's all kinds of new and cool stuff coming down the family history pipeline.

Fisher: I love hearing that! And next up on your summer travels, you're going to be in Worcester, Massachusetts for the New England Historic Genealogical Society event and you're going to be a keynote speaker there about preservation.

Tom: Oh, that's just great. I'm sure David tried to nuke that for me. [Laughs] But they're keeping me on! David's so fun. It’s going to be neat to go to his turf and actually talk to his people. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I'm looking really forward to it.

Fisher: Absolutely. All right, we've got an email here from Dave Basit in Tacoma, Washington. And he says, "Tom, my question is in regards to an old family photo of my grandmother and great grandmother and it is attached. The child in the photo is my grandmother. She was born in 1908 and this is the only known photo of her and her mother." Now you can see the photo is in a state of decay. He said, "I desperately want to have it scanned and touched up, but I'm afraid if the frame and glass are removed, it will crumble. I'm looking for a miracle and hoping you can help. My problem is this, I live near Tacoma and the photo hangs in my mother's home in North Carolina. We'll be travelling back home in a couple of weeks and I'm hoping you may have connections of a reputable company who can assist me with this. I'd prefer it be you, but my fear is the transportation. And I estimate the size to be about two feet by three feet." It’s a real classic picture, isn't it Tom?

Tom: Oh absolutely! And once again, those that aren't driving we'll hold the picture up to the microphone, so you can look into your speaker and see it. But it is. It’s a wonderful picture. I have the exact same frame on some of my grandparent's. I think it was like a famous plaster molding back then. In fact, some of these are actually carved out of wood. And if you actually have a real wood one that's not plaster, they're worth a lot of money.

Fisher: And I'm seeing a lot of flaking going on in the picture. What causes that?

Tom: Well, there's a lot of things that can cause that. As he suggested, it might be adhered to the glass now. And so, just when it gets adhered to the glass, as it goes through hot and cold spells even in the house just from the furnace kicking on, it can kind of pull away from the glass and re stick to the glass. And every time it does that, one little piece of the front of the photo stick to the glass. And then when it gets warm, it falls off. So if we actually took this apart, DO NOT DO!

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: DO NOT TAKE THIS APART! There could be all kinds of flaking down to the bottom, the little pieces, but you're not going to able to put them back together, that makes no sense.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: So a picture like this, don't transport it! Leave it in North Carolina where it is. I'm going to do some research and find somebody up there that can help you. There's a couple of different ways you can go. If you find a professional sign company that makes billboards, they should have a big scanner and they can scan it. Some of those kinds of places have only a scanner that you have to have flat things go through them.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: But some people, when they want to do something with like an old oil painting, there's ways to scan that. If that's unavailable, what I would do is find the best professional photographer you can in the area that does portraits, take it in to him. All he has to do is, he sets up his tripod over the picture so he camera's on the bottom of the tripod instead of the top, so it kind of hanging down between the legs, and put on a polarizing filter, because once it get it lead with the polarizing filter that kind of has two stages to it, you turn one ring until all the glare goes away and then you take a photo of it. And if he has a real super high dpi on his camera, which he should be able to if he's got a good Nikon, he can shoot like a RAW. Have him shoot a whole bunch on them.

Fisher: Yeah. And you know, when I had my picture taken with the firemen that I found, it was over 30 inches long. And that's exactly how we did it. They set up a camera in front of it and took an outstanding picture of it at a very high dpi. And my copy is better than the original. When we return, what are we going to talk about, Tom?

Tom: Let's do some more emails.

Fisher: All right, coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 202

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: We are back! It’s our final segment of Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on America's Family History Show. And we're talking preservation with Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. And you had one last thought on Mike's email from our last segment, Tom, and what was that?

Tom: Yeah, right. During the commercials when we were talking a little bit about this, make sure when you go to a professional photographer, make sure he shoots it at all different kinds of settings. Do the RAW, do a TIFF, do jpegs, do everything you can, as big as you can. Even if right now you can't use a RAW file, you don't know how to deal with it, that's fine. You want to get that, because any professional editor such as ourselves, we would want to start with a RAW picture. And we could go in and make this thing just like the day it was taken. In fact, like you said, the firemen, make it actually better than the photo ever was.

Fisher: Yeah. I was actually able to go in and take out discolorations. There were even letter that were completely ruined by discolorations, but I took letters from other parts of the name key and just replaced them with those. And it came out just gorgeous. And I'd rather have the one I have, than the original I copied it from.

Tom: Oh absolutely. This is one of the kinds of things that you can actually make a better duplicate than the original was. If you can afford it, have the guy shoot some film also, because film has a special touch to it that regular digital doesn't. If they have like a large Hasselblad, a large format picture, it’s going to cost a lot more money. But something like that, having a good two and a quarter square negative of something like this, you want to make this so beautiful, knock yourself out! If you just want to get it restored as little as possible, then just go the digital route. But something like this if it was mine, I'd spend a little money and get it done right.

Fisher: All right. Now here's another email. This is from somebody else named Tom. And he says, "I have a photo 1919 vintage and a digital file of two World War I ancestors that I'd like to get made into high quality prints for framing. You mention on the show to use high definition scanners, but no one around here seems to know what I'm asking for! Can you give me more specific info to take to a photo shop or sign maker shop?"

Tom: Well Tom, Amazon has some really crappy scanners and some really good scanners. There's an Epson on the site right now. I can't recall the number. You can call me or write to me again and I can be in my office and write it down for you. And it retails for about two grand and it is an amazing scanner! You can do negatives, you can do photos. I used to use Canons a lot, but Canons kind of got a little bit away from their professional and more into like prosumer and consumer. And I love my old Canons, but this new Epson is just absolutely incredible. So Give me a call or send me another email or get me at @AskTomP on Twitter and then I can get back to you immediately and tell you what the model number is. And other followers will be able to see it, too.

Fisher: Now wait a minute! Nobody's going to be able to afford something that expensive. How would they manage that?

Tom: Get together with your family. Have everybody go in on it. A lot of times, I've seen people get something like this, spend two grand or even a less expensive one for a grand, they go and scan all their stuff, they get everything done, then they turn around and sell it on eBay. So if you pay, say two grand for it, you should be able to easily get $1500, $1800 for it, and so it costs you a couple of hundred dollars, but that's nothing to be able to scan all your stuff! So that's one thing you can always do, look for used ones. This is too new to probably find a used one, but look on eBay. But get a good quality scanner and then turn around and sell it on eBay. Because people are looking for stuff and, "Oh, I can save $250 by buying a used one that they said, you know, grandma just drove to church on Sunday and they'll be able to buy it from you."

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: So it costs you $250 for a $2000 scanner to use it for a week.

Fisher: Boy that's good thinking! Very smart. All right, you can email Tom at [email protected] or you can tweet him as he mentioned @AskTomP. All right Tom, good to see you again. Back on the road in a week or so, right?

Tom: Oh absolutely! We're getting all ready to go back and hang out in David's territory.

Fisher: All right. Talk to you again next week.

Tom: My pleasure.

Fisher: Hey, that wraps it up for this week. Thanks for joining us. Hey, just a reminder by the way, when you sign up for our Weekly Genie newsletter this month, if you're on our list of subscribers by the end of the month, you're eligible for a drawing we're going to do for Heritage Collector software. This is very special stuff that will help you actually tag people in your photographs! It’s really useful and you've heard Tom talk about it in the past. So you can sign up at ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. Hey by the way, if you missed any of the show, of course don't forget to catch up on the podcast at ExtremeGenes.com, iTunes, iHeart Radio or TuneIn Radio. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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