Genealogy Organizational Challenge

Genealogy Organization is a Challenge

Old School Files
Old School Files 

My partially organized files.


I spent Saturday with two very organized people, Lisa Alzo and Thomas MacEntee. Their “Getting your Genealogy Groove Back” Boot Camp. It was a very information and helpful presentation.

I spent Sunday attempting to familiarize myself with some of the organizational tools they discussed. It was a mixture of “old School” and new Technology, at least new to me.

This morning I spent it organizing the old school way. My thoughts were, How can I use the new technology if I don’t have myself organized with what needs to be entered into the computer program.

In the photograph above the top bind holds my webinar folders that still need a little tweaking. They were mixed in with the folders in the lower draw. The lower draw is now organized with my family folders only. I have decided to continue my Surname way of organizing.

The major Surnames for each of my family lines include the sub-surnames by married. I organized this way as a reminder of who married into the family line and where. (To date I have 99 surnames in total, with 349 shaky leafs on Ancestry to research.)
My husband Major Surnames are:
Parental side:

Maternal side:

Misc.: Two Unknown Surnames (one for each line) I still need to verify before adding to my list

My Major Surnames are;
Paternal side:

My Maternal side:

Computer Files to date

My computer files to date

Now I’m off to organize the familiar computer technology I currently use. I will take the save items and place them into the correct family line folders in the same manner I did with the old school files. Once this is completed I can then take one old school folder and one computer folder; compare the information and enter it into the research log that I learned about during “Boot Camp.” Once I have entered all my research, I will find the gaps I have in my family tree. Those gaps will become my “To Do” List.

Yes, it is time consuming to organize these records. In the long run I will be saving time. I have already found duplicate name records with different information in them. I will be able to grab the correct file, find the information I’m looking for without hunting and pecking throughout my paperwork or computer. I will set up my Research Log by major surnames: Consistency, Organization and staying with what is familiar will be my organization tools from now on.

Thank you Lisa Alzo at and Thomas MacEntee of Hack Genealogy for all the little tidbits of information on how to organize.

Bye for now. I’m off to organize and get ready to Post my next #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks blog about Arthur W. Place, my great grandfather, one of my great grandmother, Tina May Hutchins, four husbands.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Post #1: Tina M. Hutchins (1874-1949)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Post # 1: Tina M. Hutchins (1874-1949)

Amy Crow issued a challenge this January, 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks. Her premise was to write about a specific ancestor each week. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, or a research paper as long as it focused on one ancestor.

I am coming late to the challenge that was posted four weeks ago.  This challenge falls into several of my New Year goals I set for myself:

  1. To LEARN as much as I can about my ancestors
  2. To LEARN the best way to organize that research
  3. To LEARN how to publish my findings
  4. To CORRECTLY document that research

No story is to small is Amy’s Crow’s motto. I agree with that motto with a caveat; the story needs to be accurate as possible.  The story that is Tina’s was started several years ago when I was attempting to write about the Women in my life that gave me strength.  I have included an excerpt from my first draft below. It is my way of introducing Tina to you. The story was based on an interview I had with my mother before she died in 2001. I loved listening to her tell me about my ancestors over the years and decided to write those stories down for our family history.

Now to the caveat part and the reason for my blogging in this manner about my ancestors. A story should entertain you with the facts to the best of your knowledge. This story was based on my mother’s knowledge as she believed it to be. You will find after you read the story why this is a research blog posting. In other words my “To Do List” for Tina M. Hutchins.

Women of Strength-My Legacy: Part One

Through the years I have been taught a lot from the strong women in my family my great-grandmother, mother, my aunt, and from my daughter. I will tell the story of these strong women in four parts. I will start with my great-grandmother Florena-Tina Marie Hutchins

Although the strength I learned from my great-grandmother was from verbal telling of her story by my mother and letters to her. The letters were lost in house fires over the years. I will do the best in the telling of Florena-Tina’s story as I remember it.

She was the second child of ten born to a Welsh mother, Sarah Abbey and English father, Benjamin Hutchins in the small rural town of Corinna, Maine on the one hundred twenty-third day of 1885. 3 May 1885 was a typical early spring day. Light frost in the morning, localized mist and patches of fog slowly departing making way for the sun by days end.

She spent her childhood on a farm five miles from her school. The elder children learned how to carry and shoot a gun for food and protection from local wildlife as they walked their siblings to school. The school was located in the center of town so that all families had equal access. The chief industry of the town was a manufacturer of cotton wrappings.

When she started school in 1881 the school was a boxed shaped 10 x 20 foot unadorned cabin with a fireplace at one end, a raised platform at the other for the teachers’ desk overlooking the student benches. The benches were placed by younger grades in front to older ones in back. The firewood was kept outside as was the outhouse. Over the years more rooms and teachers were added but the aroma of damp musty wood smoke and stinging of the eyes remained.

She was a progressive woman of her time. She continued her studies and received her Register Nurse degree in 1893. It was not common at the time for women to receive professional training to assist with birthing. She loved being a midwife but also enjoyed assisting the doctor in his full practice using instruments of the trade. She went on to work in a hospital. Later in life she provided care for her crippled daughter.

Around that same time she started practicing as a midwife she met and married her first of four husbands, Sidney Towle. They moved to a five acre farm in Dexter, Maine. Less than a year later she asked Sidney for a divorce.  He had an affair with one of her younger sisters who he married a few years later. They had five children. The story is told that my great-grandmother harbored not ill feelings towards them. She believed in forgiving and moving forward with her life.  I believe her strong religious conviction of turn the other cheek helped her make this decision.

About a year after her divorce she met, courted and married her second husband, George Spooner in 1895. They moved to the forest surrounded mud flats of the Casco Bay area in Freeport, Maine. George was an attorney who provided legal advice in both criminal and civil matters. She was happy there continuing her nursing practice establishing friendships, becoming an active member of her Baptist church. As an attractive young woman in her early twenties with soft long flowing black curls she made friends easily. She was of short stature measuring five feet. Her family teased her she was fifteen hands high and as strong as a horse. This gave her confidence in herself.  She travelled everywhere by foot and didn’t hesitate to help with any task needed.

One of the first thing you might say to yourself is why the name are different; Floren-Tina verses Tina. That was my first clue that maybe the information I thought was correct is not. I started verifying dates, marriages and family connections before I published my story. I named my daughter after my great-grandmother I thought. It turned out that Florentine was my great-great grandmother and Tina was my great grandmother. When my mother referred to Tyna Marie being named after her great grandmother, Florentina, she was referring to hers, not mine, as I had thought. My story has not been published because I found several other differences of information with the facts. The sense of who Tina M. Hutchins doesn’t change but the facts do.

My To Do List for Tina Marie Hutchins includes:

  1. Find the original her birth certificate
  2. Find marriage records- done
    1. Married George B Spooner on 8 May 1893 in Dexter, Penobscot , Maine by Fred E White, Clergyman
    2. Married Sidney B. Towle on 3 Dec 1899 in Garland, Penobscot, Maine under the name Tina May Spooner not Hutchins
    3. Married Arthur W. Place on 26 Dec 1907 Lowell, Penobscot, Maine under the name Tina M. Towle
    4. Married William Doyle on 4 Nov 1923 York, York, Maine under the name Tina Place
    5. Find documentation that she worked as a midwife
    6. Find death certificate
    7. Find verification of residence; partially completed
      1. 1874 birth in Corinna, Penobscot, Maine or Topsham, Sagadahoc, Maine
      2. 1880 United States Federal Census Brighton, Somerset, Maine age 6 dgtr
      3. 1893 marriage certificate Dexter, Penobscot , Maine as residence age 19
      4. 1899 marriage certificate Dexter, Penobscot , Maine as residence age 25
      5. 1900 United States Federal Census Dexter, Penobscot , Maine as residence age 26 wife
      6. 1907 Marriage certificate Lowell Penobscot, Maine age 33
      7. 1910 United States Federal Census Kittery, York, Maine age 36 wife
      8. 1920 United States Federal Census York, York, Maine age 46 widow
      9. 1923 United States Federal Census York, York, Maine age 40
      10. 1928 City Directories Eliot, York, Maine  age 54
      11. 1930 City Directories Eliot, York, Maine  age 56
      12. 1940 Untied States Federal Census Sutton, Merrimack, New Hampshire age 65 wife
      13. 1949 Heaven Found Millwoods Cemetery, Sutton, Merrimack, New Hampshire
      14. Is there a Last Will in testament documentation
      15. Land records

My goal is to answer some of these questions this week. Next week I will post about my Great grandfather, Tyna’s third husband, Arthur W. Place.


Polish American Names- Please Help

Researching my husband family tree is a slow process for several reasons that I will not list to save face for several family members. Today’s stumbling block is regarding the name changes made after coming to America. I have taken a photo of two Pennsylvania census records.  It is my strong belief that they are both the same family. I know that the 1910 family is my husband’s. I am not 100% sure the 1900 one is.

Pennsylvania Census Records
Pennsylvania Census Records



The comparison concerns on the censuses are:

  1. Joseph Butka’s birth years 1900 reads Jul 1861 (38)      1910 abt 1864 (46)
  2. Joseph birthplace 1900 Russia, Poland                                1910 Russia
  3. Parents birthplace same issue as Joseph’s
  4. Home: 1900 Conyngham, Luzerne, Pennsylvania            1910 Newport, Luzerne, Pennsylvania
  5. Immigration year 1900 was 1888                                             1910 was 1889
  6. 1900 census name concerns were Bronislana age 10; Boleslaw age 7; Wyadyslaw age 3

Assessment of the census Data:

  1. Like most census an age range of difference may be common depending on when the census was taken in relationship to the birth month. Taking this into consideration the age will not be a concern at this time. The purchase of a birth certificate is placed on my “To Do” list once I’m sure of the correct Joseph. The same age difference could be attributed to Mary’s 1900 age 36 and her 1910 age 44.
  2. Having recently listened to Webinars about researching across the “pond” and European ancestor, (I did not write down the webinar presenters names at the time or the resource at the time of viewing, for that I apologize to them), I know that Poland was part of Russia. This eliminates the birthplace concern for Joseph and his parents; it is most likely the same place.
  3. I used Google Maps to research the location of Conyngham and Newport areas of Luzerne County Pennsylvania. They are in the same area; redistricting over the years makes the location most probably the same address location.
  4. In regards to the immigration date; I added “find Joseph Butka immigration records to my “To Do” list. A cursory search on showed too many for me to verify which one was my Joseph for this blog post. I did find a possible match for Joseph at

It looks like a second visit to the United States and most likely his immigration date. A Josef Molcan [Motran] is listed as his brother-in-law residing in Pittsburg Pa.

Source Citation: Roll: T840_26; Line: 14.Source Information: Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1800-1945 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006. Original data: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1883-1945. Micropublication T840. RG085. Rolls # 1-181. National Archives, Washington, D.C. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1800-1882. Micropublication M425. RG036. Rolls # 1-108. National Archives, Washington, D.C.


  1. In regards to my final concern on the census, I Googled Polish given names finding a great site for listed English translations; .

Bronslana = Bernice/Bertha; she would be age 20 on the 1910 census. Not finding her in Joseph’s home is not a concern. She most likely is married or hired out.

Boleslaw = William/Bill; he would be age 17; there is a William age 16 on the 1910 census

Wladyslaw = Walter/Edward; he would be 13 on the 1910 census. There is an Edward age 13 listed.

Caroline on the 1900 census most likely is the Carrie, a nickname for Caroline, on the 1910 census.

Zigmund age 10 on the 1910 was not born when the 1900 census was taken, but shortly after or early in the New Year.  Zigmund is my father–in-law’s middle name. He was named after an uncle.

I found a marriage certificate for my father-in-law’s parents that confirms that Joseph and Mary are William’s parent’s born in Russia Poland. William was 23 years old when her married Lottie Boberick. William was born in Pennsylvania further confirming the arrival of his parents in America before 1890. He is most probably the William listed on the 1910 Luzrene County Pennsylvania census. William and Lottie were living in that county in a town called Nanticoke, where several relatives still live today.


Based on the above assessment I feel that they are the same family.  Once I have received the document on my “To Do” list and they confirm they are my family, I will add them to my Butka-Stearns Family Tree.


I am open to any suggestions or discussion on the validity of my argument that they are the same family.


Resources for the Blog post include:

  2. Google Search
  4. Family records and interviews

Save the Fat Are you Crazy?

As the New Year begins you see advertisements to lose the fat. I grew up hearing my mother, Shirley Beatrice Pease Stearns, and Great Aunt, Carrie Lula Stearns Perkins, telling me “Don’t waste the bacon grease!”

I know it is not the same kind of Fat, but it brought back memories of long, hot, summer nights, feeling like a big girl staying up late with the adult women listening to stories, playing cards (mainly Canasta), and a little family bonding with my mother, great aunt and cousin.

One of those stories was about why they saved the grease in a coffee can. There would always be a coffee can on the back of our stove for the bacon grease or any other grease that was used for cooking. We never wasted anything, so it wasn’t unfamiliar to save any old scraps: for stews, casseroles, fertilizer or to feed the animals. The fat was purified with sliced potatoes (“French Fries” were a common staple at our table) and reused for cooking.

Coffee Can in the fore ground
Coffee Can in the fore ground

Aunt Carrie told me many stories over the years during those summer nights. I asked if any of our family served in the World War II. This prompted many stories that summer. I wish I had thought to write those stories down, but we will just have to go with my faulty distance memory of them: about my grandfather (Nathan Augustus Stearns), her father, signing up for both WWI and WWII, his V-Day flower garden and what the women did for the war effort.

One such story was about how all the greased saved, that she did not use, was taken to the Butcher each week. She would earn money for each can she turned in.  So, the obvious question came up; “Why would the Butcher want the grease?” and pay money for it, no less?  She went on to tell me that is was a way to reuse the fat for the war effort. The butcher would turn it in to a rending plant. I was young I just thought okay, they purify the fat and send it back to the stores for it to be used again. Rationing was the big thing during the war; I had learned that in school.  She said they used the fat to make explosives. YES, EXPLOSIVES. Fat glycerin is part of nitroglycerin, who know?

I recently Googled “Plant a Victory Garden NH”, hoping to find information about my grandfathers’ victory garden. I came across the New Hampshire State Library site about Unifying a Nation.  It listed several war efforts that New Hampshire housewives and those who did not go to war did on the home front, including Save waste fat. Below is the conversion chart they had listed.

Housewives and butchers all over the country were mobilized to collect cooking fats for conversion to explosive ingredients.

One pound of waste fat equaled 1/10 of a pound of glycerine.
1/10 pound of glycerine equaled 1/5 of a pound of nitroglycerine.
1/5 of a pound of nitroglycerine equaled 1/3 pound of gunpowder.
1/5 of a pound of nitroglycerine equaled ½ pound of dynamite.

So SAVE THE FAT, Please; was an important part of our recent ancestor’s life, along with rationing coupons for sugar, butter, gas and many other stories to follow. Maybe my next story will be about how canning was used in the War Effort. Do you have any War Effort stories to tell? Do you have a Rosie the Riveter in the Family, an Army, Navy nurse, and Navy pilot or like me, just the home front family providing support by Saving the Fat? I would love to hear your family stories.

Story remembered by June Lee Stearns Butka on 9 Jan 2014 from a Summer in the 1960’s spent at her Aunt Carrie’s Lula Stearns Perkins home in Sutton, Merrimack, New Hampshire. This is just one of her memories from her youth. She is me the author of this blog. I plan on writing as many of those memories as I can  for future generations to read.

Links to check out for more information of World War II war efforts:

New Hampshire State Library:

Learn NC Multimedia:

Google Search: World War II Home Front Efforts

Photo: taken March 1975 by Shirley Stearns with a Polaroid instant camera at Carrie Perkins Sutton home during one of the family Sunday Drives. You can see the homemade preserves, Coffee can for the fat, and the fresh cream pitcher (yes from a cow, not the store) in the fore front of the photograph.