Thank you to Jesse Crawford from the NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency for his presentation on programs available through the HMFA to help first-time homebuyers. There are two important grant opportunities that can help pay for the closing costs or down payment, essentially giving you a cash injection up front. The HomeSeeker Downpayment Program will provide a $10,000 incentive for qualified homebuyers to purchase a home within a select number of counties, including Burlington and Mercer. The Smart Start program is another down payment assistance program that features up to 4% down payment and/or closing cost assistance. In addition, this program available throughout the state and not limited by county. For both of these programs, you must use an approved lender. For more information on these programs, as well as a list of approved lenders, please visit http://njhousing.gov/roadhome/. Should you have any questions on these products or other topics related to homebuying, please contact Jesse Crawford at email@example.com.
Thank you to Bill Loges from ReferenceUSA for showcasing many of the features available through ReferenceUSA aimed at people starting or trying to grow their own business.
The U.S. Business database allows you to search for businesses by a host of different parameters, including business types, geography, and business size among others. A great feature to help pinpoint marketing opportunities or help in market research for a certain industry is the Map Based Search, where you can get immediate business listings based on radius from a central location, along a certain route, or through free-drawn boundaries.
The U.S. Consumers/Lifestyles database allows you to search for potential customers through a variety of parameters, including geography and lifestyle attributes.
Results from both the Business and Customer databases can be viewed and downloaded for free; however, if you would like to narrow down results in the Customer database by Consumer Snapshot limits, such as age, gender, income, etc., you will need to pay for that data.
For more information about the power of ReferenceUSA, please visit their Learning Center for videos, webinars, and learning guides at http://resource.referenceusa.com/learning-center/?domain=www.referenceusa.com&accountId=3635.
Thank you to all of those who joined us for Money Smart for Older Adults. Financial exploitation is a widespread problem that can affect us all, especially the elderly and retired individuals. Whether it be investment scams, charity shams, IRS frauds, or at the hands of a trusted family member or caregiver, billions of dollars are lost every year to exploitation.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from financial exploitation is to ensure that only people and institutions you trust have access to your financial and personal information, as well as your finances and assets. If you are contacted online or on the phone from anyone claiming to be from a financial institution, a lottery or sweepstakes, the IRS, or a debt collection agency, never give out your personal or financial information, nor send any money, without first verifying the legitimacy of the institution or organization, the caller, and the nature of the call or email. An easy way to determine if you are being scammed is to ask a lot of questions; scammers will have a hard time answering your questions or even refuse to answer them, which any legitimate organization or institution would be happy to do.
To review everything that was covered in Money Smart for Older Adults, including organizations, websites, and phone numbers to contact in the event of any attempt at financial exploitation, please download the Money Smart for Older Adults Resource Guide.
Thank you to Vivian Thiele from the New Jersey State Archives for an unprecedented and revealing look into how African Americans appeared before the NJ Supreme Court in numerous ways during the early colonial and post-Revolutionary War time periods. One of most common ways Africans Americans appeared in the records of the NJ Supreme were through writs of Habeas Corpus to appear before the court for testimony as well as releases of recognizance, paid by slave owners, so that slaves were able to be “free” and work rather than remained imprisoned while awaiting a trial. There are also instances where African Americans are named in Replevin lawsuits as stolen property, where one can also find supporting documents about the history of the individual African American, including bills of sale or transfer. Lastly, Vivian touched on how certain judicial officials can be found repeatedly on different court documents relating to African Americans and how we can use that information as well as their decisions to glean more about their views on slavery, including early abolitionists, such as Joseph Bloomfield.
The records of the NJ Supreme Court relating to slave cases are currently being digitized and are not available online. However, there is a online database of all of records of the NJ Supreme Court that can be filtered by different criteria, including ethnicity. There are 463 records that can be found currently under the African American ethnicity criteria. The database is available at https://wwwnet-dos.state.nj.us/DOS_ArchivesDBPortal/index.aspx.
A big thanks to Michelle Novak, a trustee of the NJ Genealogical Society and editor of the Genealogical Society of Bergen County’s national award-winning newsletter “The Archivist”, who gave a very informative presentation on organizing your genealogy research. Whether you are working with paper or electronic records, having clear and defined organizational strategies will help ensure that you never miss a beat. Some takeaways from her presentation include:
- Break down big problems into small challanges
- Think beyond today and make sure you have actual copies (paper and electronic) of the records your are working with and make sure they are saved in multiple locations
- Be ruthlessly consistent, especially in terms of how you organize your files as well as how you name electronic folders and files
- Protect and share your work, particularly encouraging other family members from younger generations to appreciate all of the hard work you have done
You can download a copy of her handout below which includes all of her tips and suggestions, as well as instructions on how to save web pages as PDFs.
Thank you to Barbara Berman for her presentation Time and Your Bottom Line. As a Certified Professional Organizer for over 10 years and multiple positions in the corporate world, she is well accustomed to demands, and sometimes, chaos of the workplace. She covered 10 tips that all of us can use to help organize our office and increase our efficiency, many of which can be applied to our home-life as well. Some important tips to maintain an productive and efficient workplace include:
- setting priorities
- systematic and logical process for organizing and naming files, both paper and electronic
- Clear policies for when documents can be purged, and if needed, shredded
- Have designated places for your different supplies that are easily accessible
For more tips on how to improve your efficiency and time management at work as well as home organization, visit BB’s Clutter Solutions or contact Barbara directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You too can go from Bedlam to Brilliance!
Thank you to Mary Anne Ross from Alzheimer’s New Jersey for her presentation Coping with Behavior Changes in Alzheimer’s Disease in honor of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s or other dementia related diseases can be a full-time job as well as overwhelming psychically and emotionally, especially when the person we love develops challenging or harmful behaviors. Mary Anne suggests a 5 step protocol to help manage challenging behavior:
- Assess the situation
- Analyze possible causes
- Determine ways you can respond
In some cases, a change in a person’s behavior can be indicative of them trying to communicate in a different way; for example, if a loved one starts becoming agitated at a certain time or becomes restless, that may indicate that they are hungry, but have just forgot how to communicate that verbally. When dealing with any behavior, here are some tips:
- Stay calm and approach from the front
- Look for triggers to understand the behavior
- Don’t argue or reason
- Redirect to an enjoyable and safe activity
For more information, please visit the following links.
Thank you to the Credit Union of New Jersey and Jeff Slavich for presenting an informational session on Special Needs Trusts and how they fit in to the entire financial picture regarding caring for a child or young adult with special needs. Creating a comprehensive plan is essential for anyone who is caring for or may eventually care for anyone with special needs. An important component of that plan may be a Special Needs Trust which allows money to be saved for later use to ensure the quality of life for someone with special needs when the primary caregivers are unable to continue their roles. For more information on Special Needs Trusts or financial planning for anyone with special needs, please contact Jeff Slavich at 610-798-2537 or email@example.com.
This past October was National Family History Month and it encouraged me to do some “light” research into my background. I use the term “light” because I was only going to focus on direct descendants and skip the siblings and extended relations. While I managed to stay on track, I must say after a month of digging, I am exhausted. I must also mention that I was only using free resources available online through the New Jersey State Library, namely Ancestry Library Edition and FamilySearch. What I thought would take a couple days, turned into weeks, marked by highs and lows.
Growing up I was always told I was 50% French Canadian through my father’s side and 25% German and 25% Italian through my mother’s side…nice and simple. Yet when my father’s mother passed away, it was revealed that she was adopted around the age of 1 and was most likely of Irish descent. A few other assumptions informed my ancestry for decades and remained unchallenged until my foray into genealogy. For one, my mother always said her Italian side came from Sicily. As for my father’s side, they were Catholics that came from New Brunswick/Nova Scotia, but on my parents’ trip up there, they could not find any concrete evidence of Catholics with my last name. Third, as far back as my parents could remember, their immediate and extended family all lived in and around the Rochester NY area, unclear of how the families actually settled there.
With those assumptions in mind and essentially framing my search strategies, I began my quest and found some surprising results. For confidentially sake, I will be using initials when talking about some of my finds. The most important part of this process was to find out more about my grandmother’s unconfirmed adoption. I already knew her maiden name thanks to my parents and surprisingly found her S.S. Application and Claim index record, listing her father and mother. Her father was S.T. and mother was E.J. Unfortunately, I was unable to find anything on E.J., but according to the 1930 census, S.T.’s wife had the same first name as E.J. So they must have married at some point and didn’t include her maiden name on the census. Actually, in a plot twist, S.T married an E.C. almost 30 years before my grandmother was born and E.C. remained his wife through the 1940 federal census. Sadly, this mystery still remains, though perhaps DNA testing through Ancestry and close inspection of the NY Vital Records unavailable through Ancestry will provide more fruitful leads.
I continued looking into my father’s French Canadian line and was able to track them pretty easily. They stayed in the same geographical area in Nova Scotia, yet listed their religion as Anglican on the Canadian censuses, which is why my parents found nothing in the Catholic records on their trip to Canada. While we cannot confirm anything, my great-great grandfather’s brother was a mariner and there was a portrait of a mariner with the same name in a restaurant my parents ate at during their Canadian excursion. Ultimately, I was able to trace my great-great-great grandfather’s birth to 1797 in Nova Scotia, but he married a woman of German descent, so it seems the French Canadian heritage is losing some ground.
Once last experience I wish to share is related to the Sicilian claim from my mother and her father that turns out is both true and false. By going through the Federal and NY state censuses as well as the NY Marriage Index, I found my great grandparents marriage information from 1901. On their record, they both list their birthplace as Niwastre Italy. Well, there is absolutely no such place as Niwastre in Italy or Sicily. Given the high probability for human error in recording that information, I was able to find a small Italian commune, the Italian version of a small city or village, by the name of Nicastro in southern Italy. Can I definitely say this is the correct city, no, but the fact that you only need to replace two letters and the myriad of misspellings in official documents throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it is a fair assumption that this was their birth place. Lucky for me, out of all of the communes and cities within the province of Catanzaro (where Nicastro resides in Italy) whose records are available online, Nicastro records are the only ones that were transferred to the Italian State Archives and unavailable online. So while I can’t trace that line back any farther, I did find out that Italy did not exist as a unified country until 1861. Previous to 1861, everything from roughly Naples south on the mainland was considered the Kingdom of Two Sicilies. Were my ancestors proud of that heritage and therefore referred to the old country as Sicily; it’s possible. But like so many instances in genealogy, possible is not proof.
To wrap up my ramblings, I’d like to point out a couple things. First, while the online resources available through Ancestry and FamilySearch are incredible and a wonderful source for starting your research, there are so many other resources available at state and local archives, public libraries, and churches that can include new or corroborating evidence so do not be afraid to visit, call, or email those places. Second, genealogy research is a great opportunity to bring family closer together. Whether everyone participates in the research or just adds to the family lore through stories, genealogical research is a powerful force. I hope I have inspired some of you to take a closer look at your ancestry and please visit the New Jersey State Library, both in person and online, to see our Genealogy Collection and resources.
Thank you to all of those who made our National Family History Month programming a HUGE success. We ended the month on look toward the future of genealogical research thanks to a presentation by Joseph Klett, Director of the New Jersey State Archives, on using Ancestry.com’s DNA feature. Topics covered included:
- The logistics and fees of the test, including managing multiple individual’s test results
- A breakdown of the test results including a discussion on autosomal DNA testing and how the amount of centimorgans can indicate familial relationships
- Connecting with other Ancestry.com members who share common DNA lineages
- How to apply the DNA results and new connections to current genealogical research inquiries
This session was recorded so please check back for a link to the recording once it has been edited and formatted. If you do not have an Ancestry account, you can use Ancestry Library Edition for free by visiting the New Jersey State Library or the New Jersey State Archives in person. You can also check your local public library for access to Ancestry. Please visit https://www.ancestry.com/dna/ to learn more about Ancestry’s DNA testing.
Thank you to Patricia Tatrai for speaking on breast health during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Her talk focused on several different aspects of breast health and cancer including:
- Risk factors, including hereditary occurrences of caner and certain genetic markers
- Different types of breast cancer
- Different types of screenings for breast cancer
- Ways to reduce the risks of breast cancer including diet, exercise, and preventative mastectomy
Please consult with your doctor about any questions you have about breast cancer, including risks, tests, and treatments.
Thank you to Jon Bozard, Reference Assistant at the New Jersey State Archives, for his informational presentation on Civil War ancestry. Jon covered a variety of record types and collections that can be very useful for amateur and professional genealogists tackling the Civil War. Popular resources available at the state archives include the Record of Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War by William S. Stryker, Regimental Records, and the Federal Pensions. Other less common resources include Payment Vouchers, Muster Rolls by Congressional District, New Jersey Home for Disabled Soldiers case files, and Photographs of Soldiers. All of these collections can be viewed in-person at the State Archives.
Jon also highlighted some digital resources available through genealogical websites such as Ancestry and Fold3. These collections include the U.S. Civil War Pension Index (Ancestry), a small number of Federal Pensions (Fold3), and the 1890 Veteran’s Schedule (Ancestry). If you have any questions about the collections or are looking for direction in your research, please contact Jon Bozard at the State Archives or Regina Fitzpatrick, Genealogy Librarian the State Library.