Saturday, June 29, 2013

Reader Replacement Smackdown


For those of you new to my blog, welcome! For those of you who stop by with some regularity, thank you!

I have done a bit of upkeep on my blog. Translation: I started writing a post and two hours later it was midnight and I had revamped the blog. THAT kind of upkeep.

We all know by now the sad, sad tale of Google Reader's death march into cyberoblivion this weekend. I, for one, will be sorry to see it go. I used Reader specifically for my genealogy blog reading and always appreciated its simple structure: read, click, read, click. I don't want fancy, just show me the blogs.

I have tried two replacements: Feedly and NewsBlur.

Feedly seems to be the reigning king of Reader replacements. It was very easy to add my Reader feed into Feedly. I like it well enough...except the mobile version. Again, as I am really only using it for blogs, I want to zip through some reading on my phone or tablet when I have a few minutes. I haven't gotten used to the "magazine" format of Feedly mobile. I just want a list!

NewsBlur is very cool. And apparently fed by hand. I signed up a couple of weeks ago, and it took nearly 48 hours for my account to be available. Earlier this week it was still over 12 hours behind gathering feeds. I follow about 50 blogs, and many don't even post very often, so the speed is a concern. (The free NewsBlur version has a 64 blog ceiling, too). I'm suspecting the designer is literally hand-feeding the blogs into the feed. I do LOVE the layout - like Reader plus geeky stats - and the NewsBlur mobile version is much more appealing to me. I will keep them both for now, but the jury is still out.

As for the blog, I added some pages at the top to collect badges and society links, and create a link through directly to my genealogy database. I tried to streamline the sidebar and make it more blog-centric. I added the Feedly follow button so give it a try. If it doesn't work, PLEASE let me know!

Thanks for visiting, and I hope to find you and even more readers after Monday!

Do you have a replacement Reader? What are your opinions on the ones you discovered?

© 2013 Sally Knudsen

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Hummel Family

The Hummel Family

Standing (L to R):

Herman Christian, Anna Barbara [twin], Lorenz Simon, 
Emilie Friederika [twin], Hugo Karl

Seated (L to R):

Carolina Christina (Ebinger) Hummel, Arthur Louis, Carolina Christina, 
Johann Lorenz Hummel, Otto Karl

Taken circa 1893, Adrian, Lenawee, Michigan

Both "Lorenz" men used the name "Lawrence" in America.
They were both my direct ancestors.
This is one of my favorite ancestral photographs.

© 2013 Sally Knudsen

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Dreaded Lockjaw

Otto Hummel, aged 14, who in company with his father, Lawrence Hummel, and younger brother, Arthur, was caught in the bad runaway accident, on East Maumee street, on the evening of the Wednesday, May 7, died from lockjaw, this morning, at 4 o'clock, at the home of his parents on North street.
The details of the horrible affair were given in full in The Telegram at the time. It was thought at the time that the father was the most seriously hurt, and young Otto was not thought to be in any danger. The injury to the skull, which showed a small contusion became very painful, and last Wednesday that dread disease lockjaw developed. He lived in great agony until 4 this morning, when death came to his relief.
The little sufferer behaved manfully through all the ordeal. It was necessary for the past four or five days to give him food through a straw.
His father seems to be recovering slowly, and the younger brother, Arthur, is not materially showing any bad results from the accident.
The funeral of Otto Hummel will be conducted Thursday afternoon, probably from the home.
Lockjaw is a disease that we refer to as tetanus. It is not a disease transmitted by human contact, but rather from environmental hazards. The Centers for Disease Control says:

The bacteria are usually found in soil, dust and manure, and enter the body through breaks in the skin - usually cuts or puncture wounds caused by contaminated objects.

Otto Hummel was violently thrown from a runaway horse and buggy. After cutting his scalp open on the pavement of an 1897 street, he was a prime candidate for bacteria from dirt and manure. Lockjaw causes the jaw, then other muscles, to painfully tighten in the body. Other symptoms include fever, sweating, and difficulty swallowing. If poor Otto was being fed through a straw, he was clearly fully consumed by the disease. Lockjaw can be treated with antibiotics - which didn't exist at the time. Vaccinations for tetanus now keep lockjaw at bay, as only about 30 cases appear in the United States each year. 

Otto Hummel may have "behaved manfully," but he still died too young from a horrible disease. Rest in peace, Uncle Otto.


The Evening Telegram, Adrian (Lenawee) Michigan, Tuesday, May 18, 1897, page 2, accessed at the State Library of Michigan, Lansing, Michigan.
"CDC - Tetanus - About Tetanus - Lockjaw." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2013.

© 2013 Sally Knudsen

Friday, June 21, 2013

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Small town newspapers, especially the really old ones, can be a great way to get lost in the past. Our ancestors didn't have the ease and convenience, and sometimes the burden, of our information technology. There was no internet or computers, no television or radio. Our ancestors had the local gossip and the small town newspaper.

Besides obituaries, my favorite part of an old newspaper is the column of local information submitted by area residents. They were a way to keep up on what your neighbors were building and buying, who was visiting, and who was sick or recovering. Most of the papers I've used are weeklies from small towns in the Midwest, but I suspect the local news format transcended geography.

I recently posted a transcription of an 1897 Adrian, Michigan newspaper article about my ancestor, Lawrence Hummel, and his unfortunate accident. [Hummel post #1] I have several observations about the content of this article:

It Was Graphic

Newspapers were a way to share stories, and share they did. What better way to get readership than to push the limits. Perhaps this began in Jack the Ripper-era London, when newspapers shared gruesome crime details and postmortem photos in print. Here is a great BBC article about this sensationalism.

After the Hummel accident, extremely detailed descriptions were given about poor Otto's head wound, and the bloody mess left behind in the office where Mr. Hummel was treated.

They Were Namedroppers

Face it. Our ancestors were gossips! They didn't have television for entertainment, so neighbors and townsfolk were the next best thing. Besides the Hummel family members, mention was made of four different doctors, a state senator, a school, two business blocks, and three business owners. Of course, these people and places give reference points for the accident. But really, they were namedroppers.

Adjectives Rule

The language was verbose. The articles were filled with long sentences, lots of adjectives and adverbs, and a host of commas. This is a minor criticism, but the style certainly increases the sensationalism and gives it a wow factor. It sure makes me want to read more!

Newspapers can be such a valuable tool in your family research. This single article gave me incredible family information - names, dates, occupations - but more importantly, put a singular family story in a greater social context.

Stayed tuned for future posts about the Hummel's and their runaway horse.

Photo courtesy Library of Congress via WikiMedia Commons 

© 2013 Sally Knudsen

Monday, June 17, 2013

Anatomy of a Runaway

The extremely spirited horse of Lawrence J. Hummel, who lives on North street, opposite St. Joseph’s academy, became frightened at escaping steam from the boiler of the plating works in Conger block, last evening, about eight o’clock, and succeeding in stringing the occupants of the carriage all along Maumee street and almost killing the driver.
Mr. Hummel was driving south on Broad street, the horse hitched to a two seated buggy, the rear seat of which had been removed. He had in the buggy with him his two younger sons, Otto and Arthur. When the horse started he turned the corner west on Maumee street, and Mr. Hummel immediately lost control. Just in front of the Star laundry Mr. Hummel was pitched out head first, and struck with terrible force on the cobble stone pavement. The younger son, Arthur, aged 12, rolled out the back end of the carriage, but Otto, aged 14, was served similar to his father and struck on his head on the pavement, just in front of the Spalding homestead. The horse continued on its way at break neck speed, and attempted to make the turn south on Main street. He was going at such speed, however, that he slipped and fell, sliding on the sidewalk and stricking [sic] with such terrible force against the Hart & Shaw corner, within a few inches of the big plate glass window on the Main street side of that store. The buggy was overturned in a bad mess, and the animal cut and bruised terribly. He attempted to rise and start again, but was soon in the hands of men who could handle him.
Mr. Hummel, who is a man 54 years of age, was dangerously injured. There were several bad cuts on his scalp and very serious concussion of the brain. He was taken into the laundry office, where another of his sons is employed, and from there conveyed to the office of Dr. Williams, close by. The doctor was out, but Dr. W. E. Jewett and Dr. N. R. Morden were soon there, and rendered the necessary help, Mr. Hummel was conveyed home by Dr. Morden, in the doctor’s carriage, and remained unconscious until 3 o’clock in the morning. After that he revived, and is resting easy at this writing, although the concussion is dangerous, He bled profusely, and the office of Dr. Williams looked as if a horrible murder had been committed there.
The boys were picked up and taken into the office of Mr. Maples’ hotel. Senator Rorick picked up Otto, the one more seriously injured, and carried him in his arms as tenderly as a mother. Dr. Williams and Dr. W. E. Jewett, jr., were found and took charge of the two boys.
It was found that Otto had a gash six inches long on the back of the head, which stripped the scalp to the bone. Some of the scalp had been ground into pieces and destroyed so that it had to be cut away. There was also a slight depression of the skull, and altogether the boy’s case looks as serious as that of his father. He was taken to his home in Conklin’s ambulance, and is resting easy to-day.
The younger boy was suffering more from the shock than the actual injuries, but he was considerably bruised up.
This is the third time their horse has run away and injured the occupants of the buggy. He once took a run on West Maumee street, throwing out one other member of the family, and quite seriously injuring him. He also took a turn on Frank street a short time ago, and made a bad mess of the wagon.
The excitement last evening was intense. A crowd gathered about Dr. Williams’ office, and the office of the hotel would number 500 or more.
Source: The Evening Telegram, Adrian (Lenawee) Michigan, Thursday, May 6, 1897, page 2, accessed at the State Library of Michigan, Lansing, Michigan.
There are so many things to analyze and discuss in this article, which will be the topics of future posts. For now, take away the knowledge that Lawrence J. Hummel was my great-great-great-grandfather.

© 2013 Sally Knudsen

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Friday, June 14, 2013

DNA: I'm U. Are You?

I have the patience of a saint, as the saying goes. I'm that person who gets a birthday card in the mail and tucks it away until my actual birthday. I could wait patiently to open Christmas gifts. Really.

So when 23andMe offered $99 DNA kits late last year, I decided I had waited long enough and ordered one. The kit arrived in mid-December and I let it sit for a few days. I opened the kit, registered, and sent in my sample. The expected turnaround was 2-3 weeks. I received an email asking for my patience, as the holiday backlog was forcing a delay in results. I finally received my email that... drumroll... the results were in!

After logging in, I still needed patience as some of the results took longer - like actual matches! Not a problem. In another week, I settled in to explore the final results. And they were not at all surprising as I know a good deal about all the branches of my family.

I am 99.7% European. Shocked, I tell ya. Part of that is some Eastern European thrown into the DNA mixer by my Prussian-descended grandma, who is almost 95. She's on the left, in case you have a hard time telling us apart ;)

I also learned my maternal haplogroup is:


Solid with my knowledge that I was researching up the right trees, I ventured around the site a little more. Honestly, I was not at all sure what to expect. Armed with these mtDNA results and a lot of research on my maternal lines, I do hope to find matches. I suppose the site is like a topic-specific social media site - people join but you don't know who you might find. Yet.


Nice graphical results
Lists of possible cousins
Fun DNA surveys


Share everything to make connections
Few people reply

And my biggest negative is that I was hoping it showed me more. I read articles and blogs about connections and 'I share x % of DNA with this distant cousin,' and 'y strand of DNA matches this person so we confirm our relationship.' Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I'm not getting that warm fuzzy connected feeling. I am analytical - I want to see data. No doubt, being able to even perform this test is amazing, but I want to know more

Next step - talk my dad into taking a test for those elusive paternal Irish lines!

What are your experiences with testing? Have you made unexpected matches? Any tips for me, like I really missed something on the website? Do you match me (crosses fingers!)? 

Maybe I will learn that patience is inherited.

© 2013 Sally Knudsen

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Surname Saturday - Hummel

Today's Surname Saturday entry is Hummel.

This is me with my almost 95-year-old grandmother. Her only sibling is 97. You read that right. Long live the Hummel's! My line, through Grandma, lived near Stuttgart, Germany, in a village called Bunzwangen, as far back as the late 1600's. Our immigrant ancestor arrived in 1866 in Michigan.

Some of their American locations are:

Adrian, Lenawee, Michigan
Pemberville, Wood, Ohio
Lansing, Ingham, Michigan

Some collateral names are:

Dork / Doerk
Schmidtke / Schmeidke
Hoefer / Hofer / Hoffer

Here is a link to my website with all my known Hummel names. I'd love to hear from you if you find we have anyone in common!

© 2013 Sally Knudsen

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Twenty Crazy Days

May 2013 will go down in our family history as the craziest, most exciting month of milestones. We have two children, and that was almost more than we could handle! Ready?!

 Our oldest received academic and athletic scholarships and signed his college Letter of Intent
to run cross country and track (he will enter as a History major!)

Our youngest raced in his grade school sectional track meet, 
but unfortunately did not qualify for the Illinois state meet.

 Five days later, our oldest led off his 4x800m relay team at the high school track sectional.
They won, qualified for state, and for a few days, held the fastest time in Illinois.

 Two days later, he graduated from high school.

And the very next day, our youngest turned 14. Happy Birthday!

At the Illinois High School Association state track meet, our youngest entered the 
open races in the evening where anyone can participate. He ran a 4:59 mile,
which is amazing for his age and by far his best time ever!

The main event at the Illinois state track meet was our oldest's 4x800m relay.
They qualified in first place in Friday's preliminary heats, but after a rough
final race, they earned 5th place. They finish ranked #28 in the US. 

 And finally...this past Tuesday, our youngest graduated from junior high school!

Eight milestones in 20 days. WHEW! Are you as tired as I am?

© 2013 Sally Knudsen