in 52 Weeks
I enjoy being contacted by previously unknown cousins, close or distant, to compare notes on our shared ancestors. Whether the information leads to tearing down a genealogical brick-wall, or simply to sharing old family photos. In fact, I have posted old family photos online with surname tags in order to attract cousins. Among genealogists this is known as “Cousin Bait.” I suppose, in many ways, this genealogical blog is a form of cousin bait. I have lured in a few cousins from my posts. On the flip side, I too have responded to bait and made contact with others who have posted photos or stories of our shared ancestors.
The photo that has gotten me the most response from previously unknown cousins is an image of my maternal ancestors, the Rumples. The photo is from 1895 and I identified everyone in the image. I featured this photo in a post a couple years ago, “Family Photo” and have shared it on Ancestry.com. This photo has led to nearly 100 cousin connections. 
I have also been on the other end of the line and was drawn in by a photo. These were posted by a 4th cousin. They are photos of my 3rd great grandfather, James McCash, 1788-1871, and his brother William McCash, 1783-1871. James is on the right in each image. The 4th cousin who posted these descends from William. There are no dates on the photos, but the cousin guessed the brothers set for the photos between 1855 and 1865. 
DNA as Bait
Sharing my DNA on various sites has led to MANY cousin connections. Whether they are close or distant, the comparison of shared matches can lead to solving ancestor mysteries. I have had more than one DNA contact that helped to resolve a, so-called, brick wall. And a few have led to discovering cousins who are adoptees looking for birth families. DNA is good bait, but it is very dependent on others doing a DNA test, sharing the results and knowing some of their ancestry. I have nearly 100,000 DNA matches on Ancestry, about 4000 are close cousins. I could probably learn more about some of my brick walls from someone among all those matches. But, it is almost like a needle in a haystack, to use a non-fishing metaphor. 
Content as Bait
Another technique I have found successful for attracting cousins, is the sharing of content. I have shared through Ancestry a variety of content: scanned vital records, newspaper clippings, transcriptions from books and links to online content. By making it easier for others to discover this content, I have made connections with many cousins interested in genealogy and willing to compare notes. For example, I transcribed and posted the funeral sermon of my 4th great-grandfather John Baldwin Osborn, 1754-1848, from notes in a church archive and now have over 40 cousin contacts as a result. 
I have had success with the “bait” I have been using to lure in cousins. But, this week I read a tip on another blog participating in the 52 Week challenge that I will implement. The blogger highlighted their use of surnames as tags for her posts. I can see how that could lead more cousins to find my posts. So, I will put more lines in the water and see who I can reel in. Enough with the fishing lingo, check out the 100+ pound halibut I reeled in back in 1996 in Prince William Sound, AK.
- Blog post, Family Finds: Family Photo,
- Profile of James McCash, ‘Osborn’ tree, Ancestry.com;
- Blog post, Family Finds: DNA,
- Profile of John Baldwin Osborn, ‘Osborn’ tree, Ancestry.com;
Born Takeo Furukawa on 15 March 1883 in Tottori-Ken, Tokyo, Japan, little is documented of his early childhood. Family oral history stories say that the young Takeo experienced hunger, poverty and the loss of his family. Additionally, the stories tell of friendship, spiritual learning and scholarship.
My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne, lived at over 20 addresses around Indianapolis between 1876 and 1942. I thought it would be interesting to see all the old buildings and homes where he lived in my hometown of Indianapolis.
My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne (1848-1942), was a widower with two young sons in 1886 when he married Jennie Warbington (1857-1918) in Minneapolis on the 27th of May. I decided it was time to put sources to the story.
While working on a family photo project I decided it would be fun to compare side-by-side my father and his parents, at similar ages, to try and discover a family resemblance.
Jesse King was born in Ohio (probably in the vicinity of Chillicothe) in 1805, he was a son of Philip King and Mary Leah Wright, both of Pennsylvania. Philip King was a farmer, he married Leah Wright in 1801 in Somerset, PA, they had six children, of whom Jesse was the third.
A handwritten letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary to the then president of the United States, Grover Cleveland. It was her last appeal for a War of 1812 pension, sadly the pension was denied. The letter gives a glimpse of a woman who had no formal education, a poor farmers wife, then widow, mother of nine, she probably just wanted some independence through an income of her own.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 2: Challenge
So much about genealogy research is a challenge, perhaps the most common challenge is the ‘brick wall,’ meet Sarah Smith. 18?? – 1846
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 3: Unusual Name
The surnames in my tree are typical of common western European names. However, the name that is unusual among these names is MY surname: LaFara.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 6: Surprise!
Just when you think you know everything about an ancestor, surprise! I thought I knew most everything about my paternal great grandfather David L. Osborne, 1848-1942.
For all of us who are procrastinating about labeling photos I have one thing to say, “Be considerate of the genealogist of the future!” My maternal grandmother was very good about labeling old family photos, and there is one, in particular, I found very informative.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 10: Bachelor Uncle
My uncles are the marrying kind, sometimes more than once!
I had to go back four generations for a bachelor uncle, my great-great-great uncle Conrad Rumple, 1833-1911.
Conrad was an older brother to my great-great grandfather on my matrilineal line, William Rumple, 1839-1912.
My great-great grandparents, George Lafary and Catherine Landon, had a relatively small family, three of their six children survived to adulthood. However, they both came from large families of nine siblings and nearly all survived to marry and have children.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 13: In The Paper
It’s fun to find articles in the paper mentioning one of my relatives. Mostly they are birth, marriage, divorce and death events. But, it’s the oddball articles in the papers I like the most.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 14: Brick Wall
We all have a brick wall, that one ancestor who defies all research. I decided I would work at my brick walls by generation, I broke through the last of my 3rd great grandparent brick walls, now I am working on 4th great grandparents.
I realized I did not have a date of death for my great, great grandmother, Catherine Landon Lafary. A fresh search uncovered the date and much more. Out of place, but once discovered, everything fell into place.
I have many favorite photos among my collection of family artifacts. Currently, my favorite photo is of two little children from 1916 who were a complete mystery to me until last spring.