30 November 2023

Navigating the Cognitive Landscape: How AI Enhances Mind Mapping

I wrote a blog post about the spiritual community of Harmonia, Michigan in January of 2020. Before writing the Harmonia post, I used mind mapping to map out the topics I wanted to cover. 

The Mind Map-Harmonia was created using 
Mind Map Template 1 from templatelab.com

Mind mapping starts with a central theme, my blue circle. It radiates out from the center with ideas relevant to the topic, my lighter blue circles, and then my white circles. Ron Arons, the author of Mind Mapping for Genealogy, demonstrated Mind Mapping in a Legacy Family Tree Webinar. I was intrigued by its potential use in blogging. I don't use it for every blog post, but for blog posts that have a number of sections to it. 

This is a nice example using a template at templatelab.com. Mind mapping helped me organize my thoughts and categorize them in a way when I started writing I could go from one topic to the next. Mind mapping worked for me in 2020.

Now in 2024 there is artificial intelligence. Could artificial intelligence and an artificial intelligence generator provide me with a mind map to use in my writing? I tried it using Harmonia as an example. Using the AI generator application, ChatGPT 3.5, I wrote, "Create a mind map for writing about Harmonia, Michigan." This is what I got back.

"Creating a mind map is a great way to organize your thoughts and ideas for writing about Harmonia, Michigan. Here's a basic mind map structure to help you get started:

Main Topic: Harmonia, Michigan

  1. Introduction

    • Location
    • Brief history
    • Significance
  2. Geography and Location

    • Map of Michigan
    • Harmonia's position within the state
    • Surrounding areas
  3. Historical Background

    • Founding of Harmonia
    • Early settlers
    • Key historical events
  4. Demographics and Population

    • Current population
    • Diversity
    • Trends in population over time
  5. Economy

    • Major industries
    • Employment opportunities
    • Economic development projects
  6. Culture and Community

    • Local traditions and festivals
    • Community organizations
    • Social life and recreational activities
  7. Education

    • Schools in Harmonia
    • Educational institutions
    • Academic achievements
  8. Natural Attractions

    • Parks and green spaces
    • Lakes, rivers, and outdoor activities
    • Wildlife and conservation efforts
  9. Landmarks and Tourist Attractions

    • Notable landmarks
    • Places of interest for visitors
    • Historical sites
  10. Local Businesses and Services

    • Shops and stores
    • Restaurants and cafes
    • Services available in Harmonia
  11. Challenges and Opportunities

    • Economic challenges
    • Community development opportunities
    • Infrastructure and environmental concerns
  12. Future Outlook

    • Upcoming projects and developments
    • Vision for Harmonia
    • Potential for growth and improvement
  13. Personal Experiences

    • Your personal experiences or interviews with residents
    • Stories that capture the essence of Harmonia
    • Unique perspectives
  14. Conclusion

    • Summarize key points
    • Highlight the essence of Harmonia, Michigan
    • Future prospects
  15. References

    • List of sources, books, articles, and interviews used for research

You can expand upon each branch of the mind map to develop a comprehensive and well-structured essay or article about Harmonia, Michigan. This framework will help you cover various aspects of the town in an organized manner."

This is way more extensive than I anticipated. It doesn't have pretty colors and shapes, but it gets the job done.  It goes into more detail than I would want for one blog post. If I was writing multiple blog posts or even a book, this would be helpful. This is just one way I could see it benefiting family history writers. 

I am excited to see what artificial intelligence will bring to the genealogical community. Could it write my blog posts for me? I bet it could, but would it be reliable? accurate? How would I source it? Where does ChatGPT get its information? There are so many questions. This disclaimer, "ChatGPT can make mistakes. Consider checking important information" can be found on the ChatGPT website.

Have you used AI in your research or writing? My readers and I would enjoy hearing about it.

Disclaimer: I used ChatGPT 3.5 to generate the title of this blog post.

23 November 2023

Stuffing and Savings: A Closer Look at 1974 Thanksgiving Grocery Prices

 The Harbor Beach Times, 21 November 1974, Harbor Beach, Huron, Michigan

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States and grocery prices are high. I thought it would be fun to look at grocery prices in November 1974. It was my Senior year of high school. 

The above ad is from Merrifield's Market IGA in Harbor Beach, Michigan. Harbor Beach had three grocery stores when I was in high school: IGA, A&P, and Sandman's Market. Do you remember A&P and IGA's? A&P is no longer in operation, but there are still IGA's. The only store in Harbor Beach now is Sandman's. Sandman's is a locally owned market. It was the go-to store for deli products. Their sliced lunch meat was a favorite of many people.

The prices above are a bit lower than today. Turkeys from $.43 to $.59 per pound. Do you want duck for Thanksgiving? It was $.89 per pound. How about white bread at 3/$1? 

What else do you need for dinner? Green beans for your green bean casserole were $.29, cranberry sauce $.25, tea dinner rolls 3 for $1, pumpkin for your pie was $.33. You don't like to bake your own pies; you could buy a frozen Banquet pie for $.39.  And don't forget the Alka Seltzer for $.49. Wow! I sure could use some of these prices today. Look at the price of butter-85 cents.

I am sure my mom had a grocery list with a lot of these items for our Turkey Day that year. It has been fun to look back on 1974 grocery prices.


This blog posts used the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI) tools. While the content reflects my ideas, writing, and research, AI was used for grammar and spelling suggestions.

The headline on this blog post was suggested by AI algorithms. I reviewed and selected the most fitting one to capture the essence of the content.


22 November 2023

The Marriage and Divorce of Leo Sandberg and Daisy Marie Fredricks

Daisy Marie Fredricks, who went by Marie, was the daughter of Otto and Daisy (Graf) Fredricks. She was born 13 November 1921, probably at the family farm in Dickson Township, Manistee, Michigan.

When Marie was eighteen years old, she married Leo Sandberg, age twenty-one, on 23 November 1939 at the Trinity Lutheran Church Parsonage in Onekama, Michigan. It was Thanksgiving Day. 

Leo and Marie Sandberg had one daughter, Rose Marie. They lived at 267 Christingdon Street, Manistee, Michigan. Leo worked in a hotel in Manistee. Marie worked in a restaurant in downtown Manistee. 

A divorce record can be found at ancestry.com in Michigan, Divorce Records, 1897-1952. The divorce decree date was 27 Feb 1943, state file number 51 408; docket number 2558. The divorce was granted to Leo and the record states it was contested. The reason for the divorce was cruelty. No alimony was granted. 

The custody of Rose Marie, age two, was granted to Leo. When Rose Marie was a young girl, she went to live with her grandparents, Otto and Daisy Fredricks, in Brethren, Michigan. Leo eventually remarried, Marjorie Adamski. Leo and Marjorie would visit Rose Marie occasionally. Marie moved to California and remarried, Walter Kurth, but she rarely saw Rose Marie.

15 November 2023

Book Review: Michigan POW Camps in World War II

First, I need to provide full disclosure about this book. I met Greg Sumner at the Battle Creek Barnes and Noble and shared what I knew about the POW's held at Fort Custer. I had written a couple of blog posts about the POWs and their graves at the Fort Custer National Cemetery. I shared what pictures I had with him. I received no compensation for my information or for this review.

The book that resulted from Sumner's research, Michigan POW Camps in World War II, is a great look at a little-known subject during World War II. Sumner spent days travelling throughout Michigan visiting and meeting with the people who had a connection to Prisoner of War camps. He talked to people who owned farms where the prisoners had worked. He talked to museum organizers. He visited many of the places that had a history with the German prisoners and camps. 

His book is informative and filled with stories, photographs, maps, and more from his travels. Each chapter engrosses the reader in what being a prisoner in Michigan was like. He talks about the relationship the community had with the prisoners. Sumner uses interviews, newspaper articles, historical facts, and more to tell the story. He uses resources that tell the story from the prisoners and community viewpoint. Be sure to read about the Owosso "conspiracy" and the Blissfield 16, both are excellently written sections.

Sumner's book is professionally researched and a welcome addition to the history of World War II in Michigan. If you would like to read a story from a prisoner of war who was held in the United States, check out Ernst Floeter's "I'll See You Again, Lady Liberty."

I had an interest in the German POW's because of the section of the Fort Custer National Cemetery where some prisoners were interred. Upon writing about it on my blog, I would get emails from people who had a connection to those prisoners, many from Germany. Imagine my surprise when I got an email from a 'cousin' who I had been communicating with about our common Fredrich family and he told me his father was at Fort Custer as a prisoner, talk about a small world. Of course, I had to send him Sumner's book and everything I had about that time at Fort Custer. 

If you are looking for a great read about World War II and German and Italian prisoners of war kept in Michigan, then Gregory D. Sumner's, Michigan POW Camps in World War II, is the book for you. 


14 November 2023

Death Certificates at Michiganology.org

The majority of death certificates found at Michiganology.org are from 1897-1947. Due to Michigan law the records must be seventy-five years old or older to be online. The years 1948-1952 have indexes, but no images. You have to wait until January of the new year before next year's certificates are posted. January 2024 is when the 1948 death certificates will be posted. 

Every January I would have my list of Michigan deaths I needed to find. I got behind on lookups for about four years. Recently, I took some time to catch up. One of my 1947 certificates was for Charles Zobel, my first cousin twice removed. 

Source: Michigan Department of Health, "Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1950," Index and Images, , Michiganology (www.michiganology.org : accessed 1 May 2023), Entry for Charles A Zobel, 25 June 1947; Michigan Department of Community Health, Lansing

Above is what the certificates look like. This one is nice because most of it is typewritten. Some are not and those can be hard to read.

Search tips: On the search within this collection page, put the name you are looking for in the seach box, select sort by "title/last name" in the drop down menu at the top of the page, next select "table" in the display drop down menu. Using "table" is the only one that gives you last name, first name, and county information in the search results. I have found this to be successful for me. You can't refine the search. Other sort by options include type, first name, or place. If you aren't sure of the last name you can search by these other options. 

If you have ancestors who died in Michigan, check out the death certificates at Michiganology. Remember some of the genealogical relevant information is only as good as the informant.

12 November 2023

The Death of John Tritten

John Tritten
High School Graduation
Brethren, Michigan

Conducting family history research leads one to happy and sad records. The obituary records that hit my generation are sad ones. For a long time I was saving obituaries of the generation of my aunts and uncles. Now, I am printing those of my generation. We are too young to die.

John Tritten, my first cousin, was a wonderful man. I have fond memories of John from when my family would visit and stay at Aunt Kate's home. John was the son of Carl Tritten and Kathryn Fredricks Tritten. We were traveling when John died and I wasn't able to go to his funeral. I was thankful that I had seen John the previous year. I will remember him as being a kind, devoted, Christian son, husband, and father and that he shared a birthday with my son.

John C. Tritten, 73, of Manistee, passed away unexpectedly at his home on Thursday Sept. 29, 2016 with his loving wife at his side.

He was born on Jan. 6, 1943 in Manistee, the son of the late Carl and Kathryn (Fredricks) Tritten. He was united in marriage to Susanne Winkler on Dec. 27, 1969 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Onekama.

John served in the U.S. Navy and was a former Township Supervisor in Dickson Township. John was retired, having worked for Martin Marietta for 36 years.

He was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church of Manistee, where he was a past Elder, served on the Fellowship Board, and a member of the Dart Ball team. He was also a member of the American Legion Manistee Post No. 10 and the NRA. What he enjoyed the most was fishing, camping and spending time with his grandkids.

John is survived by his wife Susie, by his children, Eric (Chris) Tritten, of Stow, Ohio; Heather (Jason) Youngstrom, of Denver, Colo.; Brian (Kimber) Tritten, of Paneswick, England, and Timothy Tritten, of Manistee; by nine grandchildren, Ricky, Katie, Libby, Ada, Josiah, Lucy, Ellen, Joseph and Isabella, and by his sister, Kathryn Welch of Barnsville, Ohio. He is also survived by his sisters and brothers-in-law, and by numerous nieces and nephews.

Funeral services for John will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday Oct. 4 at Trinity Lutheran Church of Manistee with Rev. Dr. Eric Tritten and Rev. Dennis D. Rahn officiating. Burial will follow in Trinity Lutheran Cemetery. Military honors will be provided by the Manistee United Veterans Council Ritual Team. 

Source: https://www.legacy.com/funeral-homes/obituaries/name/john-tritten-obituary?pid=181694352&v=batesville&view=guestbook

Pictures of John Tritten from Audrey Glover's (my mother) photo album.