Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (October 25, 2014)

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

1.  The Vault has another very interesting map resource that could be useful for genealogists. This week the featured map is a 1903 depiction of "Race and Occupation of Immigrants by Destination" for the United States. The jam-packed map provides information about national origin, occupations, and trends in immigration by state.  See the map and read more here.   

2.  Here is an interesting article on inheritance hoaxes and the folks who fall for them from our Canadian friends to the north.  NEHGS provided the link in this week's The Weekly Genealogist.  It is short and worth the read. It also explains about an Iowa connection.     

3.  Two weeks ago I mentioned a post by James Tanner about BillionGraves, and last week I posted a correction to my summary of the mentioned post.  This week I suggest you go over to Randy Seaver's blog Genea-Musings to read his review of searching on BillionGraves. As always, Randy provides nice visuals to his commentary.  You can read Randy's review Part 1 here.  

4.  If you believe or know that you have Welsh roots, you might be interested in a DNA study brought to our attention by UpFront With NGS blog.  A new mass genetic study of the Welsh is going to try to determine who the Welsh actually are and where they came from.  Read more here.

5.  And James Tanner at Genealogy's Star blog has a short piece that reminds us that the spelling of words -- including surnames -- has, until fairly recently, always been a very fluid thing. Read the post here.  
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Fotos (October 24, 2014) -- Everett and Ruth Carpenter

Last Friday an opalotype of my maternal grandfather and his older sister was featured here for Friday Fotos. This week I continue sharing some of our recently rediscovered family photo treasures and feature another portrait of the siblings, Everett and Ruth Carpenter.

The portrait of Ruth and Everett shown above was taken perhaps a year or two after the opalotype posted here last week. Both of the siblings look slightly older and are dressed in more mature looking clothes. I figure this undated photograph was taken around 1894 to 1895 when my grandfather would have been 3 to 4 years old and his sister would have been 5 to 6 years old.

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Scan from the original photograph in the collection of the author.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Family History Month and Another Residential History Project (October 23, 2104)

The High Street apartment, Cumberland, Rhode Island (2005)

Since Family History Month 2014 is coming to a close in just over a week, today is a good time to post another residential history to create and preserve for the descendants of my parents a photo history of all the family homes they occupied during more than 63 years of marriage (and counting). 

To document the history of the homes my parents have had, we begin with their first residence after they were married (which also happens to be my first residence as I was born 11 days short of a year after they were married). The house shown above is on High Street in Cumberland, Rhode Island and it was just up the street from my mother's parents' home at 551 High Street.  My parents occupied the apartment on the second floor of the home.

The Boswell Ave. apartment in Norwich, Connecticut (2005)

When my father left the Merchant Marine after I was born, he joined Sears Roebuck and Company as a management trainee on May 18, 1953 -- almost a month to the day before my sister was born. The first place the family lived was in an apartment my father found in the house pictured above on Boswell Avenue in Norwich. The family moved from Cumberland, Rhode Island to Norwich, Connecticut after my sister was born and my father began work as a Trainee in the Sears store in Norwich. 

The family home was the right half of this duplex -- 15 Melrose Park Rd., Norwich, CT (2005)

Not long after we arrived in Norwich, it became clear that the Boswell Ave. location was not the place for a family with two children under two years old and my parents moved across the Thames River into a new duplex in a development on Melrose Park Rd. in Norwich (pictured above).

4 Glenn Street, Holyoke, Massachusetts (2005)

In March 1955, almost seven months to the day before the older of my two brothers was born, my father was promoted from Trainee and the family moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts where my father became the Big Ticket Sales Manager at the Sears store. Initially, we lived in the first-floor apartment at 4 Glen Street in Holyoke (shown above).

30 Taylor Street, Holyoke, Massachusetts (2005)
The family did not live on Glen Street for more than a few months and we next moved to Taylor Street in Holyoke.  We were living in the first floor apartment at 30 Taylor Street (entrance on the right in the photo above) when my brother was born and we got our first dog, Cindy. It was while living on Taylor Street that I began school in Kindergarten at the Highland Grammar School.

84 Falmouth Rd., Chicopee, Massachusetts (2005)
We were living on Taylor Street when my father was promoted to Assistant Manager of the Sears store in Holyoke on March 1, 1956.  Almost exactly two years later my father's father died on February 28, 1958 and shortly afterward my parents bought their first home in a development across the Connecticut River in Chicopee. The home had a full basement and three bedrooms. At the time, the home was painted red and we used to refer to it as "the Little Red House by the side of the road." The garage and breezeway pictured above did not exist when we lived there.

18 Joseph Rd., Salem, New Hampshire (2005)

In 1959, my father was transferred by Sears again and the family moved further north to Salem (then called "Salem Depot"), New Hampshire. My father was the Assistant Manager at a larger Sears store across the state line in Lawrence, Massachusetts and my parents bought their second home (shown above). The home on Joseph Road in Salem Depot was a nice Cape Cod with four bedrooms, two baths, a fireplace, full basement and a yard that bordered acres of woods. We were living in this house when the younger of my two brothers was born in Lawrence in 1961.

28 Essex Street Extension, Concord, New Hampshire (2005)

In 1962 the family moved further north again when my father was transferred to the Concord, New Hampshire Sears store as the Assistant Manager. We first moved to a house on Essex Street Extension in Concord where my parents decided to rent again. The home was three stories with a walk-out basement and a full attic.  It also had a garage to the left, but as of 2005 the garage no longer existed. The home was just across the street from White Park, one of Concord's largest city parks. The park had a pool, a maintained skating pond, athletic fields, and an outdoor hockey rink in winter.  There was also a good sized hill where we learned to ski.

4 Dartmouth Street, Concord, NH (2005)

We lived on Essex Street Extension in Concord for about two years before we moved to a home at the south end of Concord just a couple of blocks from Rundlett Jr. High School where I entered 7th grade. The house was another rental with a full basement, kitchen with a butler's pantry and serving window into the dining room, a full attic with a ladder up to a widow's walk, and a large side yard.

4 Dartmouth Street (August 2011)

In February of 1965, my father was transferred out of the stores and down to the Sears Eastern Territorial Office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My parents decided to buy a house again and this time they chose to build a new home in the growing residential community of Cinnaminson, New Jersey.  Cinnaminson was directly across the Delaware River from Northeast Philadelphia where the Sears Territorial Offices were located on Roosevelt Boulevard. The family remained in Concord so we children could finish the school year and so our new home could be completed. In July 1965 we left Concord and New England and moved south to New Jersey and our brand new house at 505 Lexington Drive in Cinnaminson. The home was a four-bedroom split level with recreation room, one and a half baths, kitchen, dining room, living room and laundry room -- all on about a quarter acre. This was the last family home my parents had.

505 Lexington Dr., Cinnaminson, New Jersey (circa 1968)

505 Lexington Dr. (September 2013)
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All 2005 photographs by the author.  

The August 2011 photo of 4 Dartmouth Street and the September 2013 photo of 505 Lexington Drive captured with screenshot from Google Maps "Street View."
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wordless Wednesday (October 22, 2014) -- Ruth Ann Carpenter

Ruth Ann Carpenter (July 21, 1889 - September 24, 1920)

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Scan from the original photograph in the author's collection.  This 1907 photograph shows the author's maternal grand aunt, Ruth Ann Carpenter, at age 17 in her high school graduation dress on or about Graduation Day -- June 27, 1907.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Google Maps Street View And A Genealogy Research Project (October 20, 2104)

Recently I had occasion to play around in Google Maps using "Street View."  I was looking to see if I could locate the high school track in Highland Park, NJ where I ran in the 1970 State Track Meet.  I was able to do so and was, of course, struck by how much the track and school had changed in some 40+ years.  This led me to see if I could locate the house I lived in five or six years later when I was in graduate school at Rutgers.  The house, very coincidentally, was right around the corner from the high school track and I and my housemates used to run at the track quite often while we lived in Highland Park during graduate school.  

The photo above is from Google Maps "Street View" showing 509 Raritan Avenue in Highland Park, NJ as of October 2013.  The two shops are in front of a residential home that is accessed by walking down the alleyway to the left of the shop called "Sonic."  When I lived there during graduate school, Sonic was a barber shop.  You can see the peak of the home's roof just above the roof to Sonic and the adjacent Gideon Jewelry store.  I do not know what use the home is put to these days, but it was occupied by students who attended Rutgers University throughout the 1970s.

This little diversion and excursion through Google Maps "Street View" made me think about other uses for "Street View."  For example, could I use it from my desk to explore and find the homes (as they look today) that my wife and I have lived in since we were married -- and could I find them and preserve photos of them before (perhaps) some of them are demolished or changed beyond recognition? Could Google Maps "Street View" be used to research and preserve the history of our various abodes over the last several decades?

As the photos below will demonstrate, the answer to both of the above questions is "YES" and this post now preserves our residential history for us, our sons and future descendants.  Perhaps this is a simple project that can again serve as a way to "pay it forward" by creating and preserving family history now for our children and later descendants!

I was surprised to see that the so-called "garden apartment" Molly and I had when we were first married is still in existence several decades later. It is looking more than a little worse for the wear, but it is still quite recognizable as the apartment building we lived in while I was still in graduate school at Rutgers. Our little one-bedroom apartment was the garden level white windows seen to the right of the entrance to the building, which was on Hampton Rd. in New Brunswick, NJ.  

For my final year of graduate school, Molly and I moved northwest of New Brunswick to split our commutes and to get a larger and nicer apartment.  We moved to Manville, NJ -- named for Johns Manville Corp., which had a large manufacturing operation in Manville for many years. For that final year, I commuted east back to New Brunswick while she commuted west to Flemington in Hunterdon County, NJ where she worked as a Special Education (SPED) teacher. As shown above, the two houses in the photo are identical and at the time both were owned by a Polish-American couple, Mr. and Mrs. Krol. The two apartments in the light green home to the left were rented by the Krols and they lived on the bottom floor of the light yellow home to the right. Our two-bedroom apartment had the entire second floor of the yellow home and the side door to the right led up a staircase to our apartment door. The home is located on N. 7th Street in Manville, NJ.     

In July 1978, Molly and I moved to Washington, DC when I entered law school. We were very lucky to fall into an "English basement" apartment on Capitol Hill as the result of a good friend of Molly's sister moving out to a larger place. We simply met with the landlady and moved in when my sister-in-law's friend moved out. The apartment was a small one-beroom again, but it was conveniently located just off Stanton Park within minutes walking distance of the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, Congress and Union Station. It was located on Maryland Ave. NE in what was a four-story brownstone at the time, though it apparently is now painted the light green as shown above. Our landlady occupied the top three floors where she lived and had a practice as a psychiatric nurse. Our apartment was on the ground floor slightly below ground level again.  The entrance to our apartment was behind the wrought-iron stairs.

For the second half of my time in law school we decided again that we needed more room. Molly was working as a SPED teacher in Langley, VA and so we moved across the Potomac River to a duplex townhouse in Arlington, VA on S. Highland Street. We occupied the left half of the duplex shown above. It was a two-bedroom home with a basement, a driveway, and a yard where we could have a garden. The wooden fencing did not exist when we lived there and I wonder if the raised-bed gardens I built still exist behind the fence and gate.

After law school and a few years of working in two different law firms, a law school classmate of mine and a partner from the last firm we worked for all decided to open our own firm. Crazily, Molly and I decided to also buy our first home and we moved about 30 miles west of Arlington to Sterling in Loudoun County, VA. Our first home is the Cape Cod shown above. It was on a long, narrow lot about 1/3 acre in size located on N. Amelia Street. It had four bedrooms, two full baths and a long garage that could have fit both our cars end-to-end had we ever actually used it as a garage. This was the first home for both of our sons.  During our time there, we built a deck with screened in porch and put in raised bed gardens and a swing set; about four years later -- we moved even further west (roughly 50 miles from DC) to western Loudoun County and our present home on just over seven acres of wooded property. 

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All photos captured via screenshot using Google Maps "Street View."
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (October 18, 2014)

The following are a few recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this weekend, but first a needed correction to item #3 of last week's Saturday Serendipity.

Last week I recommended reading James Tanner's post on Genealogy's Star blog for news about enhancements to  In that recommendation I stated that BillionGraves was a subscription service and was available at a price.  This was inaccurate and I regret my inadvertent error. As Mr. Gunn of BillionGraves pointed out in a comment to Saturday Serendipity last week, "BillionGraves website is 100% free to use, search, edit, and contribute." Their new BillionGrave Plus is an optional add-on for those who seek information beyond basic grave site information and, as BillionGraves states, their Plus Program offers "5 amazing features found ONLY on BillionGraves for 1 low price!!" You can, and should, read the original announcement of the BillionGraves enhancements at BillionGraves' posting here

1.  The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) has announced that it will do away with the entrance fee to use the awesome DAR Library at DAR headquarters in Washington, DC. This is great news for those who are not DAR or SAR members (whose membership waived the entrance fee). Now members of the public can gain access to the wealth of genealogy and history data in the DAR library. Read more and get links at the UpFront With NGS post here -- especially if you plan a trip to DC for research purposes any time soon. And if you do plan a trip to the DAR Library, you must have a look and a read at Diane MacLean Boumenot's DAR Library post on One Rhode Island Family blog here

2.  Are you a Jack Kerouac fan -- or perhaps related to him or his wife in some way? If so and you plan to be On The Road in the vicinity of Lowell, Massachusetts, you should check out Barbara Poole's photo tour at Life From The Roots blog on Kerouac's connection to Lowell (including the gravesite for Jack and his wife Stella) here.   

3.  Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings blog has an informative and useful post about how one can order free photoduplication services for materials contained in the Family History Library of Family Search. There are some limitations on requests and they can take a while to process, but this is a useful service to know about.  Read Randy's explanation with his usual visuals, here.

4.  The Vault posted a map that depicts the status of civil rights laws in the United States in 1949 -- fifteen years before the passage of the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. The map is a graphic representation of how divided the country was on the treatment of its citizens in various aspects of life -- and by implication it demonstrates what a monumental shift was accomplished by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. See the map and read more about the history of civil rights among our states here and here. 

5.  Religion is a very influential matter in human history and in genealogy. It affected all our ancestors in one way or another and its effects are affecting us and our world every day. We all have to come to grips with our personal views on religion and religious belief and try to understand the views of others.  To that end, Wait But Why writer Tim Urban has posted some of his thoughts and views on the subject in his piece How Religion Got in the Way. The piece is profane and some of the word choice could offend, but I think it is thought provoking in any event. You can read the first installment of this series of posts about religion, spirituality and science here if the subject interests you. It is the usual unusual take expected at Wait But Why complete with the trademark stick figure illustrations.    

6.  If you love old photographs like I do, you will want to have a look at the ones posted by Elizabeth Handler at From Maine to Kentucky blog.  Her grandfather ventured west to Wyoming in 1917 when he was 17 years old. Elizabeth is sharing his photos and the captions on the back.  Have a look here and here.     

7.  UpFront With NGS also had an interesting and useful post about resources for researching and preserving the history of a house, what Diane Richard coins as the "Genealogy of a House." Check it out here

8.  The Name Game? Nancy at My Ancestors and Me blog has a thoughtful piece on the various ways a relationship to the same person can be described. Read her musings here.  AND, for those of us who have some German ancestors, Nancy has discovered and passed on the link to The German-American Genealogist, a fairly new blog.  The blog offers tips for doing German genealogy research and more. Read Nancy's post and get a link to the blog she discovered here.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Friday, October 17, 2014

An "Opalotype" of Everett and Ruth Carpenter -- Friday Fotos (October 17, 2014)

Among the items just recently discovered by my sister, is an old frame containing the above photograph of our maternal grandfather and his older sister. The photograph is about 8 inches by 10 inches and was held inside a substantial wooden frame with a sheet of thin wood covering the back of the frame rather than paper or cardboard.

I was very curious when my mother showed me the frame and the photograph this past weekend, because her father (the boy at left in the photograph) was born in 1891 and his older sister was born in 1889.  The photograph was larger than any others of early 1890s vintage that I had seen in our family collection and I had a suspicion that it was not a photograph on paper. When I carefully removed the thin wood backing and extracted the photograph, my suspicions were confirmed when we discovered that the photograph was on a thin sheet of milk-white glass rather than paper. This helped to explain why it was secured in the back of the frame by a thin wooden sheet -- it was to protect the portrait-on-glass against breakage.

My grandfather, Everett Shearman Carpenter, is on the left in the photograph.  He was born on February 22, 1891in Albion (Cumberland), Rhode Island.  His older sister, Ruth Ann Carpenter, is on the right and she was born July 21, 1889 in Providence, Rhode Island.

The portrait of my grandfather and his sister is what is known as an "opalotype" or "milk glass positive."  The opalotype technique was patented in 1857 by Glover and Bold of Liverpool, England. It was a known photographic technique into the 1930s, but was almost entirely supplanted by paper photographs by then. It is an "alternative photographic technique" now and, as Wikipedia puts it, the practice  is limited now to "a small number of dedicated artists." 

To learn a little more about "milk glass positives" and opalotypes, read the short Wikipedia stub here and use the links there to see other examples of the technique. You can also see more examples by searching "opalotype" at Google images. 

And finally, talking about serendipity . . . last week UpFront With NGS posted about a free online book for telling the difference among daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes. The link to the book proved of timely interest and use when days later I made the discovery of an opalotype in our family photograph collection.  If you have not already checked out the online book, here is the link to the post again.

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Scan from the original opalotype portrait in the author's family collection.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Photographs Across The Generations -- How Far Can You Go? (October 16, 2014)

L to R:  Molly, Eulalie, Doreen and Jonathan (May 19, 1984)

Each week The Weekly Genealogist, newsletter of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), asks a survey question of its readers. This week the question is . . .

"What is the largest number of generations of your family pictured in a single photograph?"

The question led me to the photograph above, which shows four generations from our family in a single photograph. The snapshot was taken on May 19, 1984 -- just one week to the day after the birth of our first child, Jonathan. Pictured are Jonathan's great grandmother, Eulalie Jeffs; his grandmother, Doreen (Jeffs) O'Kane; and his mother, Molly (O'Kane) Tew. This photograph is the most recent of three such four-generation photographs I have been able to locate in our family photograph collection; the others involve earlier generations than depicted here.

On a related matter, this survey question led me to ponder another question, "What is the greatest number of generations back that I can go and still have a photographic depiction of an ancestor?" 

After a little research (and the very recent discovery of the photograph of an ancestor), I have determined that in eight instances our family can presently go back seven generations to photographs of: my sons' 4x great grandparents, Russell Cooke (b. 1810) and his wife Mary Vinal [Otis] Cooke (b. 1806); my sons' 4x great grandmother, Nancy Mason [Bullock] Carpenter (b. 1793); my sons'  4x great grandmother, Abby [Hunt] Miller (b. 1807); my sons' 4x great grandfather, William Wood (b. circa 1820); my sons' 4x great grandfather, Nathan Walker (b. 1808); and my sons' 4x great grandparents, John Bowen Shearman (b. 1799) and his wife Ann Eliza [Patt] Shearman (b. 1803). *
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Scan of the original snapshot in the family collection. 

*  And with the birth of our first grandchild within the next three weeks or so, the photographs of the named ancestors above will soon be extended back eight generations!
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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