Saturday, April 23, 2016

Saturday Serendipity (April 23, 2016)

Just a few recommended items of interest for this week . . . 

1.  Do you think you have ancestors or relatives who served in the Red Cross? UpFront With NGS posted a piece about both the British and American Red Cross and databases that are available for your genealogy research. You can read the post here and get links to learn more.

2.  A very interesting and disturbing article about Georgetown University in Washington, DC was mentioned this week in The Weekly Genealogist newsletter of NEHGS.  In 1838, 272 slaves owned by the Jesuit priests were sold to Southern plantation owners in order to save the Catholic institution of higher education that became known as Georgetown University.  Learn more about this story here.        

3.   This week, James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog ruminates on DNA testing and its usefulness to genealogy research.  As usual, the post is food for thought and you can read it here.

4.   Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings blog has posted a notice to summarize the new records databases available for research on FindMyPast. If you are researching Ireland, Scotland, or England roots, then you should check out Randy's post here.
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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Saturday Serendipity (April 16, 2016)

The recommended items of interest for this week are as follows . . . 

1.  The Weekly Genealogist by NEHGS provided a link this week to an article that serves as a primer on available Irish genealogy resources. You can read the article by Kathy Donaghy here.

2.   The Weekly Genealogist also alerted readers this week to an article by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at The Root regarding DNA testing of dying or incapacitated ancestors/relatives. The piece has some valuable information and advice. You can access the piece here.     

3.  James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog has another thoughtful and thought provoking piece today. He ruminates on the nature of what can be called the "burden of proof" when adding an ancestor to one's tree, or evaluating the addition of a person to a tree you are consulting. Read the piece here.

4.   Last Sunday, Heather Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy blog posted a very useful piece on her "Top Ten" places to do genealogy research in New Hampshire. Anyone with New Hampshire roots should have a look here.

5.  The third installment of Diane Boumenot's series on "8 Weeks to Better Rhode Island Genealogy Research" is out!  Anyone with roots in Rhode Island needs to be familiar with Diane's One Rhode Island Family blog. Read installment 3 on "Probate and Cemeteries" here and catch up on the earlier parts of the series. You will see what I mean.  

6.   UpFront with NGS blog posted some very useful news this week for those who have -- or think they have -- ancestors or relatives who were married in New York City. Indexes for 1908 -1929 are now online with FREE access.  Read more about this new online resource here

7.   The Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell, posted a piece today that voices what most of us feel at some point in time while gathering and organizing the facts that make up our family history. Once we have accumulated a number of facts, photographs, and perhaps artifacts about particular ancestors or relatives, what do we really know about them in the end? Have a read here.

8.  And finally, for those with ancestors and relatives in Massachusetts, Barbara Poole of Life From the Roots blog has provided some very useful links to cemetery resources in several towns in Massachusetts. Read Barbara's post here.     
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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Saturday Celebration -- 65 Years of Marriage (April 9, 2016)

Saturday Serendipity is on hiatus this week as our extended family gathers today to celebrate my parents' 65th wedding anniversary.

My parents were married on Friday, April 13, 1951 and despite being married on what many consider to be a particularly unlucky day, their marriage has endured through six and a half decades and four children.  My mother just completed her 89th trip around the sun and my father is almost half way through his 94th trip around the sun.  

Today my parents are joined in a celebration of their long marriage by 4 children, 6 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren, one sibling, one nephew and three nieces with their respective spouses, one 4th cousin, and some family friends. This rare marriage milestone moves my parents into second place among all the ancestor marriages from both the Tew and Carpenter sides of our family. Upon reaching 65 years of marriage, only Joseph Carpenter (1789 -1880) and Nancy Mason [Bullock] Carpenter (1793 - 1880) have had a longer marriage at 67 years. 

The family history of marriages seen below was first compiled five years ago and shows the longevity of the various Tew and Carpenter nuptials since 1709. 

From the entire family comes rousing cheers for a 


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All photos from the author's personal collection.
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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Saturday Serendipity (April 2, 2016)

The recommended items of interest for this week are as follows . . . 

1.   Anyone with roots in Rhode Island absolutely MUST pay attention to a series started last week by Diane Boumenot at One Rhode Island Family blog! Diane's series is titled "Eight Weeks to Better Rhode Island Genealogy Research" and the title says it all.  Diane is walking us through the resources available to do genealogy research in and about Rhode Island and she is sharing her little secrets and tips along the way.  Read Week 1 here . . . and the most recent installment, Week 2, here 

2.  The Weekly Genealogist by NEHGS gave a tip this week about a new collection of biographical data on over 115,000 photographers, studios, and others involved in the making of photographs. This can be a valuable resource for sleuthing those old photographic portraits of unidentified people that you think might be ancestors or relatives. For example, as I was just discussing with my cousin Neysa earlier this week, if you happen to know some chronological data about an ancestor or relative, and you have a cabinet card portrait of a person you think could be that ancestor or relative, and the portrait has a photographers logo on it, you could gain valuable clues to bolster or eliminate the identity puzzle. If your subject only traveled to the location of the photographer's studio once in her life, but it was well before the photographer was in business, then the likelihood is that the portrait is not one of your ancestor or relative. To learn more about this new resource and get a link to the "Photographers' Identities Catalog" (PIC) at the New York Public Library, go here. PIC "is world-wide in scope and spans the entire history of photography."     

3.   Here is another very interesting post on the Wait But Why blog, a blog about which I often post recommendations.  This one is of interest because Tim Urban takes what he calls a "horizontal view" of history.  Of course that is what we genealogists almost always do when we focus on the history of our families; but when Tim takes the view to a more general treatment of history writ large, we get a different take on history and the people who have left large footprints in the historical narrative.  Tim's "horizontal history" can be a nice tool to see at a glance many famous people decade-by-decade and thus get a better idea of who was shaping the world while some of our ancestors were living.  Have a look!

4. Did you know there are "Twelve Golden Rules of Genealogy?" I didn't until I ran across the link to the rules at on Organize Your Family History blog by Janine Adams. As Janine says, the rules are a "great compilation of common-sense genealogy truths."  Have a look here at Janine's blog, or follow her link to the source at GotGenealogy . . . where there actually is now a 13th Rule stated.  What is the 13th rule? Go to the source and find out.  :-)  

5.  "I may be any minute!" is the punchline to a wonderful little story by Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings blog. Randy answers the question (so often asked) regarding whether or not he is related to Tom Seaver the Hall of Fame baseball pitcher. Read the answer and find out the context of the punchline here. 

6.  I did not know there were other cemetery index sites out there in addition to the Big Boys -- and, but there are. James Tanner at Genealogy's Star blog has a useful post about the FREE and you can read about it and get links to the noted sites and others here

7.  And finally, while on the subject of cemetery databases, check out the post by Barbara Poole at Life From The Roots blog. Barbara provides a cautionary tale wherein she researched three databases for the same cemetery and found that not one of them was complete. Read Barbara's post here.      
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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday Serendipity (March 26, 2016)

The recommended items of interest for this week are as follows . . . 

1.   Today is the last Saturday in March and therefore this is the last opportunity for Saturday Serendipity to recognize Women's History Month with a recommended "listen" as opposed to a recommended read (as is more usual for Saturday Serendipity). This week I return to Nate DiMeo's audio podcast, the memory palace, to recommend you listen to his piece on Margaret Knight. To learn who Margaret was and why she has an important (though little known) place in Women's History, have a listen to Episode 78: No. 116,842.  You will be glad you did.  

2.  The Weekly Genealogist by NEHGS mentioned a very useful and interesting piece this week that ran in the Boston Globe. Almost all of us at one point or another have been flummoxed and frustrated by the need to decode and transcribe the cursive handwriting in old land records, diaries, letters, etc. The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds in Massachusetts is now about to complete a project designed to transcribe handwritten land records from 1793 to 1900. To learn more about this project, which is underway at the registry in Dedham and is said to be the first project of its kind, go here.   

3.  Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, has a new post about a birth location puzzle she and a cousin have encountered based on their research. The puzzle emerged when they participated in the recent challenge to color code the location of the birth of ancestors.  Read about the challenge and their conundrum here.  Judy also provides a link for a template to create your own color-coded chart of ancestor birth locations.

4.  I must admit that the various commonalities and causation pedigrees that many genealogists have created for their families is a new and intriguing concept to me. Laura Mattingly of Old Trunk in the Attic blog posted last weekend about her creation of a pedigree chart to depict the common characteristics and experiences she shares with her ancestors. Read about these kinds of projects and Laura's creation here.

5.  As part of a continuing interest in mentioning possible esoteric sources for genealogy clues and data, I came across a post at The Vault that could hold some very sad but hidden nuggets for some genealogists. A recently published book by Peter Manseau titled, "Melancholy Accidents: Three Centuries of Stray Bullets and Bad Luck," collects notices of fire arms tragedies from 1739 to 1916. It might be possible for some mysteries about ancestor or relative deaths to be answered by investigating the information in this book.  To read more about the book and to see several of the newspaper notices the author collected, go here

6.  And finally, since as genealogists we all deal with the subject of death in one way or another, there is a lengthy, but very interesting, piece at Wait But Why blog about the dream of defeating death through what is called "cryonics" or "cryogenics" (the freezing of the body after death).  About 300 people are presently being preserved in vats of liquid nitrogen in the hope of one day being able to live again. How does this process work and what is the procedure for becoming a "cryonicist?" If interested, you can read much more about this subject here.    
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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Saturday Serendipity (March 19, 2016)

The recommended items of interest for this week are as follows . . . 

1.   As March and Women's History Month comes slowly to a close, I'd like to introduce (or perhaps re-introduce) readers to Nate DiMeo's excellent history podcast called "the memory palace." A former colleague introduced me to this audio podcast a few years ago and I keep coming back to it time and again to listen to new episodes (especially when on long road trips). Nate mines the annals of little known, obscure historical events and the people involved in them. And like all history sources, we genealogists never know when we might come across a nugget to enhance our family genealogies. I highly recommend the memory palace and as a contribution to Women's History Month I provide this link to Episode 76: Mary Walker Would Wear What She Wanted -- a 9-minute sample of the memory palace and a poignant reminder of the obstacles faced by women in 19th Century America.

2.  How cool is it to discover that a historic Colonial house built in 1692 that you have seen (but never up close until recently) was owned by the brother of the wife of your 2nd cousin, 7 times removed? It is pretty darn cool when you find out who the cousin was!  To find out, read Barbara Poole's post here -- complete with photos of the house -- at Life From The Roots blog.

3.  And how cool is it when a genealogy-minded Good Samaritan reads a piece on your blog and then sends you a day book and other items that belonged to a sought after relative? Read here Diane Boumenot's post and see photos of the items and the relative at On Rhode Island Family blog.    

4.  James Tanner at Genealogy's Star blog has two posts this week about preparing to search a graveyard. If you have ever thought about doing such a search, you would be well advised to read both posts.  You can read Part One here and Part Two here

5.  We genealogists always pay attention to surnames -- and to given names when looking for specific individuals -- but how often do we know or pay attention to middle names?  Often middle names are family surnames and they can provide very useful clues for our research. Now there is a resource for discovering middle name frequency over the last twelve decades (1880-2000). Thanks to UpFront With NGS blog, you can read about this resource and get a link to the database here

6.  And finally for this week, Judy Russell at The Legal Genealogist blog has reprised a very interesting and useful post -- first published two years ago -- about providing a citation to an image.  You can read the post here
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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Saturday Serendipity (March 12, 2016)

From the road this weekend as we visit our granddaughter Nora in New Jersey . . .  less than a handful of  recommended reads for the weekend.

1.  The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS reminds anyone interested in ancestors or relatives who lived in towns in Massachusetts that in the early years of the 20th Century NEHGS was a moving force in getting legislation to fund the production of vital statistic books for towns in the state through the year 1850. NEHGS has now updated its database of these books to add 2,000 records for the town of Chatham and 4,000+ records for the town of Harwich.  When available, the names of parents and spouses have also been provided. You can get to the database by going here (but you will need to be a member or join). 

2.  As part of its continuing effort to make genealogists aware of FREE (or relatively free) genealogy and family history resources, UpFont With NGS blog provided two new lists of 20 such resources for such diverse locations as the U.S. Ireland, Australia, Brazil, Cuba, Hungary, and even the Vatican.  You can see the list and get links to the new sites here and here.

3.  March is Women's History month and Nancy at My Ancestors and Me blog has provided a list of recommended books along with her reviews.  You can access Nancy's list here.  Only 19 days left in March to read Nancy's eight picks . . . so you better get started!  

4.  Pete Muise of New England Folklore blog has posted a new piece titled "Ghost Stories and Lewiston Maine's Riverside Cemetery." Some nice photos of headstones are provided.  If you have ancestors or relatives now residing in Riverside Cemetery, Peter's piece might give you something to think about if you visit.  You can read the post here.  
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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun for March 5, 2016

Randy Seaver's regular Saturday Night Genealogy Fun feature at Genea-Musing blog is a bucket list check sheet this week. Since I have not participated in SNGF in a really long time, I decided to play this week.  My list appears below.  A check in the box means I have done the particular activity involved -- which might be more than some of you wish to know.  

(X) Shot a gun
( ) Gone on a blind date
(X) Skipped school
( ) Watched someone die
(X) Visited Canada
(X ) Visited Hawaii
( ) Visited Cuba
(X ) Visited Europe
(X ) Visited Las Vegas
(X ) Visited Central America

( ) Visited Asia
( ) Visited Africa
(X) Visited Florida
(X ) Visited Mexico
(X ) Seen the Grand Canyon in person
(X ) Flown in a helicopter
(  ) Served on a jury
(  ) Been lost
(X ) Traveled to the opposite side of the country
(X ) Visited Washington, DC

(X ) Swam in the Ocean 
( ) Cried yourself to sleep
(  ) Played cops and robbers
(X ) Played cowboys and Indians
( ) Recently colored with crayons
( ) Sang karaoke
( ) Sang a solo or duet in church
( ) Paid for a meal with coins only
(X ) Made prank phone calls
( ) Laughed until some beverage came out of your nose

(X ) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
(X ) Had children
(X ) Had a pet
(X) Been skinny-dipping
(X) Been fishing
(X ) Been boating
(X) Been downhill skiing
(X) Been water skiing
(X ) Been camping in a trailer/RV
(X ) Been camping in a tent

( ) Driven a motorcycle
( ) Been bungee-jumping (ripcord jumping)
(X ) Gone to a drive-in movie
(X ) Done something that could have killed you…
(X ) Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life
( ) Rode an elephant
( ) Rode a camel
(X ) Eaten just cookies or cake or ice cream for dinner
(X) Been on TV  
( ) Stolen any traffic signs

(X ) Been in a car accident
(X) Been in the Hospital in past 24 months
(X ) Donated blood 
( ) Gotten a (speeding) or any other type of ticket in the past 12 months
( ) Gotten a piercing
( ) Gotten a Tattoo 
(X) Driven a manual transmission vehicle
( ) Ever owned your dream car
(X ) Been Married
( ) Been divorced

( X) Fell in love
( ) Fell out of love
(X) Paid for a strangers meal
( ) Driven over 100 mph
( ) Been scuba diving
(X) Written a published book/story/poetry
( ) Eaten snails

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Graphic ripped off from Genea-Musings!
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Bucket list answers Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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