Mary Jane Van Court Huskonen 1938-2017


On Friday, 19 May 2017, we said goodbye to our wife and mother, Mary Jane. She had suffered from dementia as well as hip and shoulder problems during the last three years. After a brief hospital stay in April, followed by four weeks in a skilled nursing facility, she lived out her final days at home. A team from Cleveland Clinic Hospice at Home assisted in making her as comfortable as possible. I and daughter Karen and son Kurt were at her side when she passed away.

I have collected and studied many death notices over the years while practicing my avocation of genealogy, so I thought it would be appropriate to prepare a death notice for her. Here is what we will be sending to family and friends today, and to various newspapers:

Mary Jane Huskonen
Mary Jane (Van Court) Huskonen passed away May 19 at her home in Brecksville, Ohio. She was born December 12, 1938 the daughter of Clyde and Meta (Scheppelmann) Van Court in Richmond Center, Ashtabula County, Ohio, who preceded her in death.

Known as MJ by family and friends, she is survived by her husband of 57 years, Wallace Dingman Huskonen, as well as daughter Karen Frame (Matthew) of Honeoye Falls, New York, son Kurt Huskonen, of North Ridgeville, Ohio, and grandchildren Korey and Kayley Huskonen and Maegan, Kaelyn, and Matthew Frame. A brother, Sidney August Van Court, preceded her in death in 2000.

She graduated from Andover High School, Andover, Ohio, in 1956 as class valedictorian. She then studied at the Conservatory of Music at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio. After graduating from BW in 1960, she taught elementary music in the Parma Public Schools for eight years. She then helped start the South Suburban Montessori School in Brecksville, and served as its director for three years. During the early 1980s, she served as business manager of Infocom Productions, an audio-visual production business she owned with her husband. Later, she worked at Modern Curriculum Press in Strongsville as an education materials sales specialist, and at Penton Media, Cleveland, in the payroll department. Recently, she operated the Huskonen Piano Studio from her home in Brecksville, during which she shared her love for playing the piano with dozens of students.

She was a member and officer of the Cleveland Piano Teachers Organization, and a member of the Music Teachers National Association.

A Celebration of Life gathering will be held at the Nosek-McCreery Funeral Home in Brecksville at a date to be announced.

We knew her death was coming, so we were somewhat prepared. Still, it will be a huge adjustment to no longer have MJ with me sharing life’s adventures.


RootsMagic Moving Closer to Syncing with Family Trees


Thanks to Randy Seaver and his Genea-Musing blog, I was able to view a video created by Bruce Buzbee about how his RootsMagic personal computer database program (Version 7) will shortly be able to “sync” with family trees in His post is here:

The new capabilities of RootsMagic 7 in working with trees in involve Treeshares and Web Hints.

Treeshare is the mechanism by which you can upload your RootsMagic tree to, or vice versa.

Web Hints are similar to the Green Leaf hints on From your FootsMagic tree, you can see hints that the program finds for you in, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage. When the new capability is finally rolled out, you will be able to see Web Hints in as well.  It then is up to you to accept or reject a Hint for a particular person in your RootsMagic tree.

Web Hints are in three categories: Records such as census, military, and vital records; Other member trees; and Media, which includes photos and stories on Ancestry family trees, all of which may pertain to a person in your RootsMagic tree.

Bruce Buzbee has chosen not to call the new capability “syncing” but Tree Sharing. For a detailed discussion 0f this preference, watch his video from Randy Seaver’s post (see above) or go directly to YouTube where you can find it at

The new capability is being Beta tested by approximately 1,000 RootsMagic 7 users as we speak. Eventually, according to Bruce, as many as 3,500 may be testing the new capability.

I’m excited by this evolution of online genealogical research. I will be able to collect records and other information on, then use Tree Share to update my RootsMagic family tree. And with the RootsMagic tree, I can organize many more reports, do sorting, and other refinements that aren’t available with an tree.

Stay tuned.

Finland Record Selection Table from FamilySearch Wiki


I have been doing genealogical research for about 20 years, and since my paternal grandparents came from Finland, I have spent a good amount of time trying to do Finnish research. has provided a table that helps organize your approach to what records to seek and how to access them.
I have copied the table from the wiki page that provides links to the various types of records. Go here to access the wiki page and the actual links. NOTE: It is most helpful for research from 1800 to the present.

Step 1. In column 1 select a research goal. Choose an ancestor you would like to know more about. What new information would you like to learn about that person?

Step 2. In column 2 find the types of records most likely to have the information you need.

Step 3. In column 3 find additional record types that may be useful.

What you are looking for: Try these records first: Other useful records:
Age Church Records Census, Probate Records
Birth date Church Records
Boundaries and Origins Gazetteers Maps, History
Children Church Records Census, Probate
Death information Church Records Probate
Emigration date Emigration and Immigration Church Records
Ethnic background Church Records Minorities, Social Life and Customs, Ethnology
Historical background History Social Life and Customs
Maiden name Church Records
Marriage information Church Records
Occupations Church Records Probate, Occupations
Other family members Church Records Census, Probate
Parents Church Records Census, Probate
Physical description Military Records Biography, Genealogy
Place-finding aids Postal and Shipping Guides Gazetteers, Maps,
Place of residence Church Records Geographical Names Census, Taxation
Previous research Genealogy, Periodicals Biography, History, Archives, and Libraries
Record-finding aids Archives and Libraries Bibliography, Genealogy
Religion Church Records Minorities, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries
Social activities Social Life and Customs History

In Finland Cemeteries, Graves May Be Recycled after 25 Years


When I visited Finland a few years ago, I made sure that I toured the cemeteries of Vesanto and Rautalampi, the villages my grandparents emigrated from. I found several cemetery stones with Huuskonen and Hytönen (Grandma’s maiden name) engraved on them–but none were for ancestors I knew about at the time.

There is a good reason for this according to a web page on the wiki for Finland Genealogy.

Cemeteries and churchyards keep records of the location of graves. Graves are often reused after 25 years, and the tombstones are replaced. But the cemetery records generally provide both birth and death dates of everyone who has been buried there.
The Family History Library has not microfilmed any Finnish cemetery records, but the library does have the yearbooks of the Finnish Genealogical Society, which list the gravestones of several old cemeteries. The yearbooks have a personal name index for the first 13 volumes, which cover 1917 to 1929 (to find out what parish graveyards are included, you must search each volume of the yearbook separately):
Vuosikirja: Årsskrift (Yearbook). Lahti: Kirjapaino ja Sanomalehti Oy, [1917]. (FHL book 948.97 D25v)

Following up on this approach would give me some additional data on siblings of my grandparents who stayed at home.

The web page further suggests:

If you know the specific area where your ancestor lived, you may contact the local mortuary [hautaustoimisto/begravningsbyrå] for information about burials that occurred after the 1920s.

Two Date Calculators Useful for Genealogy


Today I noticed a small water leak coming from the furnace in our basement. We had the furnace humidifier serviced in January. There was a 90-day guarantee for replacement of a water pad in the humidifier. I wanted to calculate exactly how long it was since the service was done.

I searched on Google for phrase “number of days calculator.” The first result was, a website that provided me with a means of calculating exactly how long it was since the service on the furnace.

Could this also be used in genealogy? The answer is YES. I plugged in the date of birth and the date of death for my great uncle Walter Chase Dingman. All I had to do was click on the calculate button and I had my answer: 88 years and 25 days. That was without counting the final date, which I could have included with another click of a button.

The website is the creation of a Norwegian company, Time and Date AS, based in Stavanger, Norway. In addition to the date calculator, it offers many other features such as a world clock, local and world weather and forecasts, a time zone map, and much more.

This age calculation got me to thinking about ages found on older tombstones, which are given in years, months, and days. I wondered if there was a calculator for determining the birth date from a death date and age in years, months, and days. Another Google search turned up the Tombstone Birthday Calculator at the website Ancestor Search.

Would the two agree in Uncle Walter’s case?  In the second calculator, I plugged in Uncle Walter’s death date–27 Apr 1967–and his age–88 years and 25 days.

The second calculator produced the result of 02 Apr 1881, which was exactly right for Uncle Walter’s birth date.

So a little research on the Internet led to two more tools for me to use in my genealogical research. And finding them represented two more examples of the usefulness of Google in finding answers.



Shocked To See Advertising on The O’Reilly Factor


Because of the recent news about sexual harassment cases involving Bill O’Reilly on Fox News, and because of the news about advertisers leaving his show, The O’Reilly Factor,  in droves, I tuned in last evening. I don’t normally watch Fox News; MSNBC is more to my taste.

I wanted to see who remained as advertisers on O’Reilly’s show. I was shocked to see that  was the second advertiser up in the first commercial break.

After thinking about this for a few minutes, I went to my computer and fired off the following email to the advertising department at

To whom it may concern,
As a longtime premium subscriber of and a user of AncestryDNA, I am extremely disappointed that you would place an advertisement with the O’Reilly Factor on Fox News tonight.
I would hope that going forward, you will join the many other advertisers who have pulled their advertisements from Mr. O’Reilly’s program. As you well know, he has paid out millions to settle sexual harassment cases.
Wallace Huskonen
I have no illusions that my email by itself meant anything, but this morning I learned from Huffington Post that put out the following statement on Twitter: “We’re in the process of pulling our ads from this show.”
In addition to checking out the advertising remaining on the show, I was interested in what his theme would be during the program. As he frequently does, he served as a cheerleader for Donald Trump and his administration. He went on the attack, accusing Susan Rice of playing politics with her former position of national security adviser during the Obama administration, even as he stated coyly that she should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
It will be interesting to see if Fox takes any action in the coming days.

FYI: This report covers advertisers who have publicly stopped advertising on The O’Reilly Factor: 24 companies pull ads from The O’Reilly Factor. It apparently is being updated regularly.


User Report:


For almost a year now, I have been tapping into the resources of the genealogical database provider known as I started out by creating a free website, then I downloaded its free computer family tree database program Family Tree Builder. Intrigued by what I found, I next opened a subscription that provided access to more services and storage space.

One thing I noticed early on was the matching of my ancestor lines with those of Finnish genealogical researchers in Finland who had posted family trees. My paternal ancestry is based in Finland, with my paternal grandparents immigrating to America from Finland in 1902 and 1903. Now I know that most readers don’t have an interest in Finnish records, but I offer it as an indication of what might be available for other ethnicities either now or in the future.

A Global Presence

As I used the service, I did some digging and learned why: MyHeritage is a global company with a presence in every country in the world, and websites in 42 different languages. In total, more than 80 million members are sharing 28 million family trees. If you are researching ancestors from Europe (and who isn’t?), this should get your attention.

With some more poking around on the MyHeritage home page and with Google searches, I learned that in September 2016 the company introduced the “most significant collection of Finnish Historical Records Ever Published Online.”

In a news release announcing the addition of Finnish records, MyHeritage claims:

With this latest addition from Finland, MyHeritage extends its genealogy market leadership in the Nordic countries, with millions of registered users and hundreds of millions of historical records from Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. MyHeritage was the first company to release the invaluable Swedish household examination (census) records, followed by multiple collections of Census Records from Denmark. MyHeritage is committed to continue to digitize important historical records and bring them online for the first time, for the benefit of the global family history community.

The following from the news release gives more details:

Extensive collection of 33 million Church records digitized by MyHeritage covers the population of Finland during 300 years, providing a treasure trove of information for anyone with Finnish ancestors

MyHeritage, the fastest-growing destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history, announced today the addition of a new historical records collection: Finland Church Census and Pre-confirmation Rolls, 1657-1950. The collection, indexed and searchable in its entirety, is currently available only on MyHeritage, along with millions of scanned original documents. It was created with the cooperation of the National Archives Service of Finland.

The collection includes clerical surveys (rippikirjat) and pre-confirmation books (lastenkirjat) for a period starting in 1657 and spanning nearly 300 years. MyHeritage is the first organization to index this collection. Users can access the collection on SuperSearch™, MyHeritage’s global search engine for historical records. In addition, users who upload their family trees to MyHeritage immediately benefit from Record Matching technology that automatically reveals new information about their ancestors who appear in the records.

Records from the collection list family households and include family relationships; more recent records include birth dates and birthplaces, and notes on marriages, deaths, and migrations. Records may also include notes on a person’s reputation and physical appearance.

The news release concludes with this boast:

MyHeritage is the world’s fastest-growing destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history. As technology thought leaders, MyHeritage is transforming family history into an activity that’s accessible and instantly rewarding. Its global user community enjoys access to a massive library of historical records, the most internationally diverse collection of family trees and groundbreaking search and matching technologies. Trusted by millions of families, MyHeritage provides an easy way to share family stories, past and present, and treasure them for generations to come. MyHeritage is available in 42 languages.

MyHeritage Now Offering DNA Testing

As you might guess, I have been quite satisfied with my experience with MyHeritage. I am looking forward to more rewarding experiences following testing of my DNA by MyHeritage. This is a relatively new service introduced in November 2016. Here is the official announcement:

MyHeritage, the leading international destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history, announced today the launch of MyHeritage DNA, its global integrated genetic testing service. The move represents a major turning point for the DNA industry, as MyHeritage DNA debuts an international mass-market home-testing kit that is simple, affordable and will offer some of the best ethnicity reports in the world.

DNA is the hereditary material in the cells of the human body and it carries within it a unique genetic record. The MyHeritage DNA kit enables users to test their DNA to reveal valuable information about their family history and ethnic origins. The kit consists of a simple cheek swab and takes only a minute to complete, with no need for blood or saliva. The sample is then mailed to MyHeritage DNA’s lab for analysis and the user is invited to view the results on the MyHeritage website. In its initial version, MyHeritage DNA provides two main features: detailed ethnicity reports that map the user’s ethnic and geographic origins, and DNA Matches for finding relatives. Additional features and capabilities are planned for the future.

MyHeritage DNA results include fascinating ethnicity reports, showing the percentage of the user’s DNA that come from different populations around the world. The initial reports currently include 25 ethnicities, but this will improve dramatically thanks to MyHeritage’s unique Founder Population project unveiled today — the largest of its kind ever conducted. More than 5000 participants have been handpicked for this project by MyHeritage from its 85 million members, by virtue of their family trees exemplifying consistent ancestry from the same region or ethnicity for many generations. In the next few months, the project will be completed, resulting in a rich DNA data set of more than 100 ethnicities that will enable MyHeritage to show users their ancestral roots with far greater resolution than other services. To this end, the company has been sending its DNA kits to project participants far and wide, from Uzbekistan to Fiji, from Greenland to South Africa, and every corner of the globe. Standard ethnicity reports are currently available, with the expert reports to be released at no additional cost to users following the completion of the Founder Population project.

DNA test results complement MyHeritage’s core offerings, including family trees and historical records — the tools traditionally used by family history enthusiasts. DNA can be used to prove or disprove a documented family tree connection, or answer the question of whether two people sharing the same rare surname are actually related. DNA is also indispensable for overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles in traditional research, as in the case of adoptees searching for their biological family without access to their adoption records. On the other hand, when DNA locates a match between two people who have the same ancestor or ancestors, family trees and historical records are often essential for piecing together the exact relationship path between them.

MyHeritage DNA is seamlessly integrated with the other services provided by MyHeritage on all web and mobile platforms, as well as offered on a dedicated standalone mobile app released today named MyHeritage DNA. Thanks to its expertise in family trees and its vibrant community, MyHeritage provides its DNA customers with features not offered by most competing services including 23andMe, such as viewing family trees of the majority of their DNA Matches to pinpoint the connection path, and automatically identifying which surnames and geographical locations they have in common. DNA can be a fascinating introduction to the world of family history, and customers who embark on this journey by taking a DNA test can easily use MyHeritage’s tools to further explore what made them what they are.

“DNA testing is the future of family history,” said MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet. “We see DNA as a natural evolution of our business and look forward to harnessing it to reunite families, engage in new pro bono projects, and enrich the lives of millions of users.”

MyHeritage DNA kits are available at the affordable introductory price of $79 + shipping (prices vary by location). To order, visit the MyHeritage DNA website. MyHeritage has already amassed a significant number of DNA kits uploaded by its users from other DNA services, providing valuable matches on MyHeritage from day one. With the launch of MyHeritage DNA, the company will cease to offer DNA kits of other vendors. Users who have already tested their DNA on other services are welcome for a limited time to upload their DNA data to MyHeritage at no cost to benefit from free DNA Matches.

FYI, I announced my ethnicity report from MyHeritage in a blog posting on March 14. You can read it here. As expected, this DNA test found that the majority of my ethnicity was Finnish.



Learning About Gertrude Stoll


I was working on my collateral relative Albert Bryan Wagner, Al for short, gathering any information available on and from other online database providers. He was the husband of Faye F Dingman, my 1st cousin once removed.

I never met the man, but he was discussed by family members because he ended up owning the Dingman farm in Williamsfield in the mid 1900s. He also owned the farm across the road where my father grew up. Al was a gentleman farmer, preferring to live in Youngstown where he operated an auto dealership. I’ll post more about him later.

While researching Al on, I learned that he married again in 1977 after the death in 1976 of Faye Dingman, my cousin once removed. The bride was Gertrude Stoll, who also was marrying a second time.

Using Ancestry, I tried to track down details about Albert’s new wife. I thought that the name Gertrude Stoll would be unique enough that I would find her details quickly. I was wrong! There were Gertrude Stolls from many parts of the country,and I spent considerable time looking at them. There even was a Gertrude Stoll from Brooklyn Heights, Ohio, who married a man by the name of Wagner. But he was Theodore, not Albert.

After spending considerable time on, I went to and searched for the Wagner-Stoll marriage record. Using the recently digitized Trumbull County, Ohio, marriage records, I found their marriage record and confirmed that both parties had been married before. This record also had the bride’s father and mother listed, so I learned her maiden name, which was Woods.

Once I had this additional information, I was able to learn about her parents and where she grew up. By poking around some more, I eventually found a family tree on Ancestry which informed me that her first husband was Martin Stoll, who passed away in 1970. There was no documentation of this relationship on this tree but I was able to find census and other records that proved Gertrude’s first marriage.

One of the frustrating aspects of this search was that I wasn’t able to find any obituary for either Albert or Gertrude using online obituary databases. Maybe I will have to make a trip to Youngstown to check for paper copies or microfilm in repositories there.

Anyway, this little research effort demonstrated to me once again that you have to be careful about adding the hints suggests to you for your family tree.

Stumbling onto Route 66 TV series


Today I decided to do a Google search for Glauber Brass Manufacturing Co., a foundry in Kinsman, Ohio, specializing in plumbing fixtures. My father, Walfrid Herbert Huskonen, worked for Glauber Brass in the late 1930s and early 1940s (I don’t know the exact dates) as a patternmaker. I have heard that he commuted 12 miles daily from Andover to Kinsman with other workers at the brass foundry during the gas and tire rationing in effect during WWII.

Google produced an amazing number of “hits” for Glauber Brass and its history. But one of the most intriguing involved the TV series Route 66 from the early 1960s. Wikipedia has a very detailed article about the series.

In real life, U.S. Route 66 doesn’t go anywhere near Glauber Brass (it starts in Chicago and winds cross-country to Los Angeles), but the episode “Welcome to Amity” was filmed in Kinsman, and the lead actors were shown in and about the foundry during a workday.

Martin Milner and George Maharis in Route 66 TV series

According to Wikipedia, the story line involves a native (played by Susan Oliver) who returns to her small hometown and convinces Tod and Buz (series leads played by Martin Milner and George Maharis, respectively) to help her relocate her mother’s remains from the local potter’s field to the nearby cemetery. They run into resistance from the townspeople due to the decedent’s “pariah” status.

The Amity episode was No. 29 of the 30 episodes in the first season. It was broadcast on June 9, 1961.

The reason why I found something connecting Glauber Brass, Kinsman, and Route 66 is because there is a website, Ohio66, dedicated to reminiscing about the series and especially about episodes that were filmed using Ohio locations for settings. The owner of the website apparently traveled to many of the series locations and took photographs showing views of buildings and scenes in 2008.

The website includes several exterior shots of Kinsman Brass (the fictional name for Glauber Brass) from the episode along with the similar views from 2008. Those exterior views reminded me of when as a kid I tagged along with my father when he was making sales calls and/or delivering new pattern equipment for use in the foundry.

Tod and Buz arriving for work at Kinsman Brass in 1961

Tod and Buz leaving Kinsman Brass in 1961

Glauber Brass (Kinsman Brass) 2008

I also recognized many of the other Kinsman scenes from my growing up years. My great uncle Walter Dingman lived in Kinsman after he married Mina Wooley until his death in 1969. We frequently celebrated holidays with Uncle Walter and Aunt Mina.

One of the classic views was of the “boarding house” which actually was the Octagonal House that was the childhood home of Clarence Darrow of Scopes Monkey Trial fame.

Octagonal House in Kinsman, Ohio in 1961.

I decided to take my search a bit further and determine if I could watch “Welcome to Amity” It was offered on free sites, but I chose to purchase a copy for $1.99 from

The first thing that hit me when playing the program is that it is in black and white. I had forgotten that television was broadcast in black and white 56 years ago.

Another thing important to me about the episode was that it included a sequence of shots inside Kinsman Brass showing Tod and Buz at work.  There were gas-fired furnaces melting the crucibles of brass, but no shots of making molds and pouring the molten brass into them. But there were shots of machining operations that transformed the brass castings into faucets and valves. At the time of production, I was working as an editor for Foundry magazine, and the scenes reminded me of visits I made to small brass foundries during that period.

My Results from MyHeritageDNA


Just checked the MyHeritageDNA website and learned that my DNA test results are available. This makes the third DNA test that I have taken; the other two being AncestryDNA and FamilyTreeDNA.

According to MyHeritageDNA, I am 56.9% Finnish, 30.2% North and West European, and 12.7% South Europe (7.1% Iberian and 5.6% Sardinian).

WDH Ethnicity Estimate from MyHeritge 2017 03 14

This compares with my results from AncestryDNA: Finland/Northwest Russia, 57%; Europe West, 26%; Italy/Greece, 7%; Scandanavia, 4%; Iberian Peninsula, 3%; Great Britain, 2; and European Jewish, <1%.

FamilyTreeDNA’s  FamilyFinder test provided the following results: Finland and Northern Siberia, 64%; Western and Central Europe, 27%; and Southern Europe, 14%.

The ethnicity results match up quite well. Any differences are due to differences in the panels of people being tested by each DNA testing service.

If you are interested in doing DNA testing, you might want to learn about current turnaround times from my experience: Right now, MyHeritage has the fastest turnaround time, providing results in about three weeks. AncestryDNA is currently taking up to eight weeks to run a test through its lab, while FamilyTreeDNA falls in between those extremes.