Saturday, December 20, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (December 20, 2014)

The following are a few recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this weekend. 

1.   The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS points us to some big news for those of us with Irish roots. The National Library of Ireland will be placing 390,000 images of Catholic parish records online by the summer of 2015. You can read more about this development here

2.   Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings blog just posted with permission a colorful and easily followed family relationship chart published by You can read here about the chart, see an example and get a link to where you can download and print your own copy. 

3.    A picture speaks louder than words. And in genealogy we love to have pictures if they are available. The Legal Genealogist has a wonderfully illustrated example of how the quality of available pictures matters and why, when it comes to quality, we should be willing to pay to get the best. Read and see here.    

4.  The National Genealogical Society (NGS) has announced a new course in its Continuing Genealogical Studies series. This one is about researching your Revolutionary War ancestors.  
The cost for members is only $45.00 ($70.00 for non-members). Read more about this series and the new course here.  

5.  Heather Rojo of the New Hamster blog, Nutfield Genealogy, posted her annual survey of weird Google search terms for her blog. Have a few laughs and head shakes by checking out her post here

6.  Curious about The Census and how it works? Wondering about the kind of questions some lucky people get asked on the 2014 American Community Survey? Well, wonder no more because Denise Levenick of The Family Curator blog is one of the lucky citizens to have received the 28-page survey booklet and the warning that she is required by law to complete the survey or risk being fined up to $5,000!  Denise spills the beans about the survey here and it is an interesting read!   

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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Fotos (December 19, 2014) -- A Little Detective Work On A Brother's Postcard To His Sister

Post Card showing the Carpenter family homestead at 551 High Street, Cumberland, Rhode Island (circa 1910)

Correspondence side of the Post Card

The home shown on the Post Card above is the Carpenter homestead at 551 High Street in Cumberland, Rhode Island. It depicts the home as it probably appeared in the decade from about 1900-1910 (for reasons explained below).

The Carpenter home was actually the homestead of the Miller/Millard family for several generations before Ruth Ann Miller married Samuel Carpenter in 1852. Sam and Ruth had three children: Samuel Eber Carpenter (1853 - 1929); Abby Laura Carpenter (1859 - 1929); and Nancy Bishop Carpenter (1864 - 1928).  Ruth Ann [Miller] Carpenter died in 1893 and Samuel died in 1904. The Carpenter/Miller home eventually passed to Sam and Ruth's son, Samuel Eber Carpenter.

Abby Laura Carpenter married John Harris Angell on December 30, 1884 and her sister Nancy later went to live with Abby and John Angell after their brother Samuel married Sarah Etta Freeman in June 1887.  The four generations of a Carpenter family homestead at 551 High Street ended when Samuel and Sarah's son Everett inherited the home in 1945 and Everett's three children grew to adulthood in the home.  The home and its surrounding property were sold by Everett's widow (my maternal grandmother, Ruth Eaton [Cooke] Carpenter) in 1962 or 1963. The property is now the site of a fire station and little league baseball field.

The Post Card is written by Samuel Eber Carpenter (my great grandfather) to Abby, the older of his two sisters, who he addresses as "Mrs. John H. Angell."  The Pawtucket cancellation stamp is not fully legible, but it does clearly indicate the Post Card was mailed from Pawtucket on
"Aug 11  4-30 P." The year is not at all clear, but some research makes it almost certain that the year is 1910. The rationale is as follows . . . 

The "19" in the date stamp is fairly clear, and so is the "0" as the fourth digit of the year.  It is the all- but-missing third digit that is the mystery -- until one notices the green, One Cent stamp depicting Benjamin Franklin in profile! A quick Google search reveals that this particular stamp was issued from 1908 - 1912 (see, The small scrap of the third digit of the year that is visible, is clearly a vertical piece at the top right of the digit space and does not appear to be part of a curved section such as would appear in say a "2" or "3"-- and the angle of this little vertical scrap matches the angle of what is clearly the "1" in the first digit of the year!  Only one year in the time period when the ONE CENT Ben Franklin stamp was issued ends in a zero -- 1910.  While it is possible someone might still have and use such stamps over an extended period of time after they were no longer issued, the scrap of the third digit in the year makes it extremely unlikely the year of the communication was 1920. And by 1930 -- the next year ending in a zero -- Abby, Mrs. John H. Angell, and Samuel himself, were both deceased and therefore brother Sam could not be writing a Post Card to sister Abby.

A transcription of Sam's correspondence with his sister Abby is as follows and indicates that Sam is wishing his sister were able to come home for a visit and stay a while. She and her husband were living in Ashton, Rhode Island, which was only about 3.5 to 4 miles away!

                                             I am spending
                                       my vacation here.
                                             The sun sets are
                                       beautiful and the 
                                       mornings are delightful.
                                             I wish you could
                                       come and stay a while.

                                                     Your affect. Bro.


As reader Michael Stephens so correctly pointed out in his comment to the original post here, the Ben Franklin ONE CENT stamp was only produced between 1908 and 1912.  The Ben Franklin stamp in other denominations was produced until as late as January 1919. This means that the original statement in the post, "A quick Google search reveals that this particular stamp was issued from 1908 - 1922," was inaccurate and the analysis flowing from that inaccuracy was flawed; both have now been corrected. While the analysis has been updated from the original, the end result is that Michael's kind correction leads even more strongly to the same conclusion -- my great grandfather sent the Post Card to his sister Abby in August 1910. Thank you Michael!  
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Scan of the original Post Card in the collection of the author.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday (December 18, 2014) -- Richard Carpenter Knight

[L to R] Everett Carpenter, Sarah Etta Carpenter, Richard Carpenter Knight, and Samuel Eber Carpenter (circa 1923-24)

I have written previously about my grand aunt Ruth Ann [Carpenter] Knight and her son, Richard Carpenter Knight (1920 - 1975), my 1st cousin 1 x removed (see, It is a sad story really, but one that was not all that unusual or rare in the days of births before the advent of the miracle antibiotics and modern surgical methods.

When Richard's mother died in the days following his birth, I am sure his father, Ira W. Knight, was devastated by the sudden loss of his young wife and being left alone with a newborn son. I do not know the circumstances of Ira's parents at the time, but Ruth Ann's parents (Richard's maternal grandparents) stepped in to take care of little Richard and he lived with his grandparents and his Uncle Everett (my maternal grandfather) for the first several years of his life. Richard lived with the Carpenters at 551 High Street in Cumberland on their small "farmette" of a few acres with its barn, gardens, trees, open fields and access to a babbling brook. It must have been a wonderful time for a little boy while it lasted. Richard's father, Ira, married Christina Arnold (1898 - 1970) on June 11, 1925 when Richard was almost five years old. Richard went to live with his father and stepmother shortly after they returned from their honeymoon to Bermuda on June 29, 1925. 

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Scan of the original snapshot in the collection of the author.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (December 13, 2014)

The following are a few recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this weekend. 

1.  The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS noted a sometimes humorous and definitely thought-provoking essay on family heirlooms when there are no heirs to leave them to. You can read the essay here.   

2.  While I do not see a likelihood that it will help me in my genealogy research any time soon, James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog, passed on the information that Google has just added ten new languages to its Google Translate tool. Since a total of some 202 million people speak one of the ten new languages, some folks out there just might find one of these new added languages of use in their genealogy research -- and if not one these ten new additions, then one of the 80 or so others could be useful. Don't forget the possible use of Google Translate in your research.    

3.  Anyone can quote the Bible at length and not have to worry about copyright infringement, right? Well, not so fast. The answer will surprise many and The Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell, does her usual great job of explaining. Have a read here.        

4.  As we near Christmas Day, Heather Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy blog provides an interesting post on the Scots-Irish celebration of Christmas. You can read the post here and find some further reading links to boot. 

5.  And speaking of The Weekly Genealogist newsletter of NEHGS (often a source of recommended reads here on Saturday Serendipity), Janine Adams of Organize Your Family History blog mentions her use of The Weekly Genealogist and other FREE genealogy newsletters. Read Janine's post and get her personal list of free newsletters here

6.  UpFront With NGS brought us the news that and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have collaborated on a new textbook on using family history as a means of teaching history. Read the post here where you can also get a link to a PDF download of the textbook.

7.  What about accuracy and faithfulness in genealogy and historical research? Harold Henderson of Midwestern Microhistory blog, has a very short but thoughtful post about leaving out or even changing part of the historical record due to personal sensitivities or beliefs. It is worth the quick read here.     

8.  And finally, Barbara Poole, who I now dub the "Ambassador of Lowell," continues her wonderful photo tour of the Land of Lowell at Life From The Roots blog.  You can see #15 in the series here and then follow earlier installments in Barbara's "Lowell Series" by going to that label in her Labels list.     
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Fotos (December 12, 2014) -- Aftermath of the 1938 Hurricane

551 High Street, Cumberland, Rhode Island.  Home of Everett and Ruth Carpenter.

One of the most devastating storms to hit the northeast United States was the September 21, 1938 hurricane.  My father was 16 years old and living in Woonsocket, Rhode Island the day it arrived almost without warning.  He remembers well running around the neighborhood with a hastily donned leather football helmet looking for his missing younger brother -- who was discovered playing in a friend's cellar completely oblivious to the storm raging outside.  

Recently, a cache of snapshots taken at my maternal grandparents' home in Cumberland, Rhode Island was rediscovered among boxes of family photographs. Several of them were taken in the aftermath of the 1938 hurricane and they are shown below.

The family home is shown above sometime prior to 1938. The low extension at the back of the home is where the kitchen was and you can see a tall chimney rising above the kitchen roof. During the storm, that chimney came down as shown in one of the snapshots below and my grandmother was in the kitchen when it happened -- but she was unharmed. As the snapshot below depicts, the kitchen roof was able to support the fallen chimney and prevented it from coming through into the kitchen.

As the snapshots show, many trees were lost as was a section of the barn and one of the outbuildings.

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Scans of original snapshots in the collection of the author.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday (December 10, 2014) -- Ruth Ann Carpenter And Her Horse "Jerry"

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Scan of an original photo in the collection of the author.  Ruth Ann Carpenter (1889 - 1920), sister of the author's maternal grandfather (Everett S. Carpenter) with her horse "Jerry" in front of the barn at 551 High Street, Cumberland, Rhode Island.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Monday, December 8, 2014

Military Monday (December 8, 2014) -- A World War II Naval Reserve Commission

As I have mentioned elsewhere on The Prism, my father is a 1944 graduate of Kings Point, the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Great Neck, New York. The site of the Academy is the former 12-acre estate of Walter Chrysler named "Forker House." 

Kings Point was dedicated on September 30, 1943 by FDR, who stated, "the Academy serves the Merchant Marine as West Point serves the Army and Annapolis the Navy."  From 1942 - 1945, Kings Point graduated 6,895 officers.  During World War II, 1 in 26 merchant mariners were killed while implementing the greatest sealift in history.  This made the percentage of war-related deaths for merchant mariners higher than the percentage in all the other U.S. services -- but the mariner death rate was kept secret during the war so that the enemy would not know what success they were having in targeting supply ships AND so that the nation could continue to attract mariners into service.  

Merchant Marine midshipmen have served in every major conflict in which the U.S. has been involved since WWII and as a result the Kings Point regiment is entitled and privileged to display a regimental battle standard; the USMMA is the only Federal Service Academy granted the right to do so. 

In addition to his service in the Merchant Marine in all the WWII theaters of war, my father held a commission in the Naval Reserve (as shown above).  He was later a LTJG in the Reserve.  

There has always been a special relationship between the USMMA and the U.S. Navy. The Navy has an interest in manning a viable merchant marine that can work in close cooperation with the Navy both in peacetime and while at war.  USMMA graduates have historically served as active duty naval officers in emergencies or during general mobilizations and as a result, the Navy has long maintained a Department of Naval Science at Kings Point staffed by active duty Navy officers.

These days, any applicant to the USMMA also applies for an appointment to the U.S. Navy Reserve -- or any other Reserve of National Guard unit of the armed forces -- and agrees to accept any tendered appointment for at least 8 years following graduation from Kings Point.
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Scan of the original commission in the collection of the author.

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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (December 6, 2014)

The following are a few recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this weekend. 

1.  If you are looking for a very clever and meaningful genealogy-related holiday gift idea, look no further than Diane Boumenot's post, A Quick Gift for Mom and Dad.  Diane uses photos of her parents' homes over the years, but there are probably numerous ideas you can envision using family photographs you have collected.      

2.  Saturday Serendipity previously mentioned articles about the discovery of the remains of King Richard III under a parking lot in England. Now hundreds of years later the modern miracle of DNA research and analysis brings us the news that Richard's DNA matches that of living maternal relatives, BUT it does not match the genetic data passed down on the male side. What does this mean? It means that there was quite probably female infidelity or "cuckholding" in Richard's genealogy. Shocking!  ;-) You can read more here. And then go read Judy Russell's recent post on this bit of news at The Legal Genealogist.    

3.  I was told by a cousin a few years ago that a family member in the first half of the last century walked from his home in RI across the CT border to see his daughter and his new grandson.  He was said to have remarked, "Now I can die happy because I have a grandson and there is a Democrat in the White House."  It is rare that we can know the political affiliation or leanings of long departed ancestors and relatives, right? Well, maybe not as a piece by Christopher Carter Lee at Vita Brevis informs us.       

4.  Vita Brevis also brought us an interesting and very useful piece on historic occupations and their more recognizable modern names or equivalents. Have a look at the piece by Zachary Garceau here and learn about cordwainers, housewrights, vulcans, hog reeves, and laggers . . . oh my!

5.  If you have Scottish background in your genealogy and have come across words in Gaelic in your research that have left you scratching your head, there is a new on-line tool that could offer you some assistance. The Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic (DASG) is now available after eight years of research at the University of Glasgow. At present there are almost 10 million Gaelic words in the collection, but it could grow to as many as 30 million before the project is completed.  You can learn more here.  [Unless you read Gaelic, be sure to click the English link in the upper right corner!] 

6.  Have you signed the "Declaration of the Rights of Genealogists?"  Read the Declaration and more here. 4,000 signatures have been obtained so far and the goal is to get to 10,000 by January 2015 when the next round of state and federal legislative sessions will begin.  Have you signed yet?? You can do so HERE. I just did.

7.  If you have New England connections in your genealogy, then Heather Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy has some holiday gift ideas for you or for you to give to the genealogists in your family -- a great list of books for New England genealogists.  See Heather's helpful post here.  

8.  And finally, since this week has a couple of posts about holiday gift ideas, I want to mention a site that I look at regularly in the hope I am going to find an item that connects to an ancestor or relative.  No luck so far, but I keep looking and suggest you might want to stop by too and see if you can find an ancestor's autograph in an autograph book, or a photo in a lost photo album, etc.  Imagine the  gift such a find could make. I am talking about Pam Beveridge's blog, Heirlooms Reunited.  Have a look -- and good hunting!
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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