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Genealogical Research

a virtual museum

by Gina Giuliano

In July 1999, my mother hosted the Eckert Family Reunion, which was held in upstate New York. More than 130 people attended from across the United States who trace their roots to Adam Eckert, a settler to West Shokan, New York in about the year 1792. This reunion was the culmination of more than two years of research by a small group, and afterwards I wrote an article about the festivities which appeared in the Winter 1999/2000 issue of Kaatskill Life. During Labor Day weekend 1999, I spoke about genealogy research at the Town of Olive historical society's annual Boiceville Reunion/Old Timer's Day picnic.

A family tree is a lot more interesting when you fill it out. By this I mean that you should try to gather more information than just names, dates, cemeteries, etc. If you can, collect old cards, letters, photographs, newspaper clippings, and anecdotal stories to go with the lineage. In our case, we were lucky that quite a few descendants kept old documents related to the family. Fortunately, people who are interested in history often are pack rats! Related to this is something that you can do now as a favor to future researchers. Label things! You know that shoe box of photographs from twenty years ago that has been collecting dust in the closet? Set aside some time to put the date, location, and names of the folks in the picture. How often have you been frustrated when looking at an old family photo, or saddened when you see a now anonymous one hanging in an antique store?

Scan the originals, and this way you can share them with others, paste the scans in scrapbooks or on posters, and avoid damaging the old documents and photos. Here are some examples of documents that can be used to highlight family history.

Ann McSpirit Eckert (1904-1993), at ~17 (my maternal grandmother, "Mimmie")

Clockwise: Ann Eckert & her children Dorothy, Martin (Buddy) and Florence *my mother) in ~1937

H. Russell Eckert's Civil War discharge certificate (my paternal g-grandfather)

Old West Shokan

Martin Eckert (1874-1971) in 1965 (my maternal grandfather)

Alice McSpirit Krom (center) with daughter Frances (right) and niece Myrtle McSpirit (left)

Old West Shokan's watery grave

Florence & family hiking Vernooykill in 2008

Related Publications:

A Visit with Mimmie: Catskill Mountain Recipes
Eight Generations
It's A Wonder We Didn't Get Drownded