Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wordless Wednesday (October 1, 2014) -- Minnie [Brown] Jeffs (1862 - 1950)


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Scanned from the original photograph in the family collection.  Minnie Brown was born in February 1862 in Ontario, Canada. She was the daughter of Thomas Brown and his wife, Ann Parry. She married Dr. William Henry Maines Jeffs on Christmas Day 1890 in York, Ontario, Canada. Minnie [Brown] Jeffs died in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on September 25, 1950 at age 88.  She is the great grandmother of my wife and therefore the great great grandmother of our two sons.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Pay It Forward -- Create Your Own Family History Documents (October 1, 2014) : October is Family History Month



Today is October 1st and so it is the start of the annual month-long recognition of Family History  here in the U.S. The month of recognition in October was first passed by Congress in 2001 based on a resolution introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. As stated by Sen. Hatch,  "By searching for our roots, we come closer together as a human family."

Back in September 2009, David A. Fryxell wrote a piece for Family Tree Magazine (FTM) titled "Trace YourFamily Tree on Your Lunch Hour." The piece was essentially 14 projects one could do during a lunch hour to advance one's genealogy. This October FTM suggests revisiting Mr. Fryxell's list for quick ways to celebrate Family History Month.

As mentioned in last week's Saturday Serendipity post here at The Prism, I would like to add my own suggestion for a project to celebrate Family History Month -- a 15th project idea if you will. The idea is to "pay it forward" to your descendants by tacking in a slightly different direction during this next month. Instead of spending time on discovery of past family history, make some time to sit down and create and preserve some family history for your descendants.  The idea is explained in this edited excerpt from last week's Saturday Serendipity . . .

Don't just discover your family history -- create it! . . .  [T]his coming week begins Family History       Month, which comes around every October. In what may well be some shameless self-promotion, I would like to suggest you read my post of October 3, 2013 "Family History -- Memorializing Your PersonalExperience of Big Events" and then resolve to take the time during October to write down some piece of history you experienced so your personal observations and emotions surrounding the event can be preserved for your descendants. You can see my most recent such effort here where I posted my admittedly somewhat lengthy personal experience of 9-11 as someone who was at the Washington Navy Yard on the day of the attacks.

Everyone has a story to tell of how a big event that descendants will read about as history was a real-time experience for us.  The events need not be terrible ones like 9-11; the Kennedy assassination; the devastation of hurricane Katrina; or the family loss as a result of any number of western wild fires.  A story to write and preserve for your descendants could be a very positive experience such as where you were and what you felt when you saw Neil Armstrong land on the moon; your time at the Woodstock rock festival; completion of a through-hike of the Appalachian Trail; attending an Olympics; or personally meeting a famous person.  You can make your project a story about anything that a descendant 100 years from now can read and maybe take to school for show-and-tell in history or social studies class to demonstrate what an ancestor thought of a big event at the time it actually happened.  

If you take on the challenge during this month, please post your writing on your blog (if you have one) and then send me notice of your project posting with a link. At the end of the month I will do a post here at The Prism with a listing of all the projects that were accomplished and with the link you provide. In this way others can see in one place the various ways in which family history was created to pay it forward.  Perhaps other readers will get ideas and motivation to create their own family history projects during the coming year.

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Family History Month logo obtained from https://www.tsl.texas.gov/texshare/newsletter/texzine/?p=3351
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hereditary and Lineage Societies -- Who Knew? (September 30, 2014)



I recently received the latest issue of The SAR Magazine, the quarterly publication of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR). I have been a member of NSSAR for several years, but I have to admit that I have never paid close attention to the contents of the magazine other than articles of interest to me. With the latest issue though I found some time on my hands on a rainy day and sat with a cup of coffee for a leisurely and thorough read of the publication. And for the first time I really noticed the advertisements and notices in the magazine.

Inside the NSSAR magazine I found notices for four different hereditary/lineage societies other than SAR.

There was a notice about the National Society Sons of the American Colonists . . . 


And there was the more specific National Society Sons of Colonial New England . . . 


Then there was the Order of the Founders of North America, 1492 - 1692, which was seeking charter members . . . 



And finally there was The Order of the Founders and Patriots of America . . . 


I knew, of course, that there were other hereditary/lineage societies out there, but seeing these four society notices made me curious about just how many more there might be and what kind of hereditary and lineage connections they might be honoring. This naturally led me to the Google -- and from there to Wikipedia. The "List of Hereditary and Lineage Organizations" entry in Wikipedia has some 238 such organizations more or less. Who knew?

There are many recognizable Societies, National Societies, and Orders made up of various Sons and Daughters, but there are also some surprisingly specific and perhaps esoteric organizations.  For example, there is the Hereditary Order of Descendants of Colonial Governors, the Cleveland Grays, the Order of Daedalians, the Aztec Club of 1847, the Bloodlines of Salem, the Descendants of the Illegitimate Sons & Daughters of the Kings of Britain, and -- perhaps my new personal favorite -- the Flagon and Trencher, which is a hereditary society comprised of women and men who can "trace ancestry to one or more licensed operators of an ordinary tavern, inn, public house, or hostel prior to July 4, 1776".  Have a look at the more than 200 other known hereditary/lineage organizations at the link above . . . your genealogy research just might help you qualify for membership in one or more of these esteemed organizations!

If this subject interests you and you want more information about various hereditary societies, you should also check out the website of The Hereditary Society Community of the United States of America here. The Hereditary Society Community website also has lists of organizations and provides known addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses to contact many of the organizations for membership or other information!

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Scan of the SAR emblem and the four notices from the author's personal copy of the Summer 2014 edition of The SAR Magazine Sons of the American Revolution, Vol. 109, No.1.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Military Monday (September 29, 2014) -- Everett S. Carpenter in the Rhode Island Militia: Part III



On January 19, 1946, my maternal grandfather, Everett Shearman Carpenter, was thirty-four days away from his 55th birthday. He had been serving in the Rhode Island Militia for a number of years and had attained the rank of Major.  World War II was over and he apparently was serving as the Commanding Officer of N Section of the Provisional Company of the Rhode Island State Guard Reserve when he decided to discontinue his service with the Militia.  His "Honorable Discharge" from the Rhode Island Militia with the rank of Major is shown above.

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Scan of the discharge paper from the original in the collection of the author. 
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (September 27, 2014)



The following are recommended for inclusion on your reading list this weekend: 

1.     And so they should! NEHGS recently got a shout out on Face The Nation when host Bob Schieffer asked documentarian Ken Burns, who just had his 14-hour opus on The Roosevelts aired on PBS, about his relationship to the Roosevelts.  Mr. Burns replied that he first learned he was related to the Roosevelts when NEHGS gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 that was accompanied by a professional rendering of his genealogy.  Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of The Bully Pulpit (about Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft) and No Ordinary Time (about FDR and Eleanor), was also on the same show and explained that she too learned of her relationship to Sarah Delano Roosevelt when she received the same award from NEHGS in 2014.  You can watch the the shout out here.            

2.     Don't just discover your family history -- create it! Since this will be the last Saturday Serendipity in September, now is a good time to remind everyone that this coming week begins Family History Month, which comes around every October. In what may well be some shameless self-promotion, I would like to suggest you read my post of October 3, 2013 "Family History -- Memorializing Your Personal Experience of Big Events" and then resolve to take the time during October to write down some piece of history you experienced so your personal observations and emotions can be preserved for your descendants. You can see my most recent such effort here where I posted my personal experience of 9-11 as someone who was at the Washington Navy Yard on the day of the attacks. [If you take on this challenge in October, please post your writing on your blog if you have one and indicate it is your contribution to creating family history for your descendants during Family History Month 2014!]             

3.     The weekly survey that NEHGS runs in The Weekly Genealogist newsletter asked about the role of luck in genealogy research. This week there is a moving story in the Concord Monitor out of Concord, NH (where I lived for a few years in the 1960s) about a family's search for roots in Germany. The story wonderfully illustrates how great a little serendipity and luck can be.  Read the story and see some photos here.             

4.     Like many, I have a commute to and from work that is, frankly, ridiculous. Increasingly I ponder how much I hate the daily grind of it -- and while it leads me to ponder retirement more and more frequently, it also led me to wonder about the commutes of my ancestors and relatives.  Did they even have what would be considered in modern terms a "commute" to work?  And then I came across this piece at The Vault about a truly different and amazing commute by a group of employees at the CIA.  Have a read here.            

5.     If genealogy has some Holy Grail of ultimate discovery, it just might be the revelation of a commonality we all share. Well, Tim Urban at Wait By Why blog did not go on an intentional quest for such a Holy Grail, but he did do a world travel series and in each country he visited he asked people he met the "Genie Question."  "If you had a genie and were granted three wishes, what would you wish for?"  It turns out that we humans have a lot in common when it comes to answering the Genie Question.  You can watch a 5 minute 58 second video to see that we truly are more alike than different. Just go here  

6.     Barbara Poole at Life From The Roots blog has been continuing her series on Lowell, Massachusetts -- "There's A Lot To Like About Lowell!"  I dare you to look at Barbara's photo tour of Lowell and not want to visit this city next spring or summer!

7.     One often hears in genealogy, "You never know where you might find a new source of information for your family research."  This oft repeated adage came immediately to mind when I saw yesterday's post on the Holyoke, Mass blog.  Anyone looking for information -- and a photograph -- for Edward P. Griffin of Holyoke from just over 100 years ago, would probably not think to consult the monthly trade journal The Carpenter published by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.  You can read here why the March 1913 issue of The Carpenter would be a very fruitful (and perhaps disturbing) source of family history for any descendants of Mr. Griffin.


8.     Nancy Messier of My Ancestors and Me blog, provided an example -- and a humorous one at that -- of unusual bits of family history that can now be found through modern research tools like OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and access to the web.  Read here Nancy's story of discovery of new humorous details about the character that was her  great grandfather, Henry Meinzen.

9.     Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings blog provides a very useful and informative review of  genealogy applications that have synchronization capability and mobile apps.  You can see his review here .

10.     If you use any of the family of Ancestry websites, then you REALLY should read Judy Russell's review of the change in Ancestry's Terms of Use for its three websites.  As always, The Legal Genealogist (the #1 Rockstar Genealogist for 2014!) has our back in delving into the details of the terms and pointing out the pitfalls and areas of concern.  Read Judy's review here. 

11.     UpFront With NGS blog had an interesting post on Banned Books Week, which takes place the last week of September each year. You can read the post and follow the links to lists of books that have been challenged or banned here. How many of these "dangerous" books you have read?  [I have read at least 24 of the 97 books on the list of 97 classic books that have been challenged or banned and 23 of the books on the list of books banned by various govenrments (with some duplication between the lists).]

12.     And finally (to end where this week's Saturday Serendipity began), if you have seen Ken Burns' latest documentary opus, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, you have a renewed appreciation for the influence the three most prominent members of this family had on American history in the 20th Century.  So how cool would it be to discover your own family's connection to one of the three highlighted Roosevelts?  Elizabeth Handler of From Maine to Kentucky blog has an interesting and well-documented post that does just that.  Go here to see the story.
  
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Fotos (September 26, 2014) -- "The Kilties"



On Monday, May 30, 1921, my future maternal grandmother -- Ruth Eaton Cooke -- was a single woman 101 days shy of her 24th birthday. It would be five years and 111 days before she married Everett S. Carpenter (my future maternal grandfather) on September 18, 1926.

In the photograph above, Ruth Eaton Cooke is in the center of the line of seven young women dubbed "The Kilties."  She is fourth from the left and fourth from the right. 

This photograph is contained in an old book of photographs that my grandmother assembled after a trip to Peases Point, Mattapoisett in Massachusetts with a group of male and female friends. The friends are referred to as "The Crowd" in a group photograph she labeled in the album. Everett Carpenter is among the members of The Crowd.  Unfortunately, almost none of the other members of The Crowd are fully identified in the photo album.  Mostly they are identified by their initials and in many cases the silvery ink my grandmother used on the black album paper has faded beyond legibility. Still, the album stands as a moment captured in time showing young adults in the Roaring Twenties on a late spring vacation trip to Mattapoisett.



Mattapoisett is located in Plymouth County, Massachusetts. It was originally settled in 1750 and was formerly a settlement of Wampanoag Indians. Mattapoisett is Wampanoag for "place of resting." For over 125 years Mattapoisett was a center for shipbuilding and whaling and the town supplied many of the whalers used along the East Coast in the early 1800s. After the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania, the whaling industry slowly disappeared and Mattapoisett evolved into a popular summer vacation destination on Buzzard's Bay.

Peases Point is almost directly east of Ned Point Light and due south of Holly Woods on Buzzards Bay

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Photographs from originals in the collection of the author.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Another Book Recommendation (September 25, 2014) -- "Sustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact From Fiction In Family Legends"



This past Sunday I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by author Richard Hite at our local history/genealogy library in Leesburg, Virginia -- the Thomas Balch Library.  [See my earlier post about this gem of a library here.] 

The Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg, Virginia

Mr. Hite is the author of the recently published book Sustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact From Fiction In Family Legends (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2013). He is also currently the State Records Coordinator of the Rhode Island State Archives and Public Records Administration.

Sustainable Genealogy is a different kind of resource and one I find well-written and quite useful. I would recommend it for those new to genealogy research and to those seasoned researchers who enjoy fresh perspectives on how to do genealogy. The book, as described in a review on the back cover, is a "how not to," but I would add that it is a guide and not a rule book -- so like a good travel guide or birding guide, it provides easy to follow, concisely written, and engaging illustrations to drive home the advice and guidance being offered. The book is a paperback and its 11 Chapters and 110 pages are filled with good advice illustrated briefly, comprehensively, and pointedly from Mr. Hite's own genealogy research. He provides a number of tips for tyros and reminders for those who are experienced genealogy researchers, but who occasionally forget possible approaches to a nagging brick wall.  One quick example will suffice to illustrate the useful nuggets dispensed by Mr. Hite . . . 

If one is trying to nail down the original nationality of an immigrant ancestor, relying on the surname alone can be misleading. A Smith ancestor could at first appear to be of obviously English nationality (like Millers, Carpenters, Coopers, and other English occupational surnames); but the German equivalent for Smith -- the cognate "Schmidt" -- could be and often was the original surname for many Smiths whose name was anglicized upon immigration to America. If generations later one's Smith ancestors passed on the information that the family was English, can one rely on that essentially oral history? Mr. Hite cogently explains why one cannot do that without more research -- and he passes on the useful tip of examining the surnames of the surrounding neighbors of early immigrant ancestors and coupling that information with historical knowledge about how areas of America were colonized and settled by various ethnic/national groups and not others. It often turns out upon more detailed research, that one's supposedly English "Smith" ancestors were actually German "Schmidts" who became Smiths in America. Historical records disclose that they lived in an area well-known to have been settled largely by German immigrants and census and other data reveal that almost all their neighbors were Hasselbaums, Strassers, Osterbergs and the like -- Germans all.

I recommend Sustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact From Fiction In Family Legends as a very useful resource and guide that would be a welcome addition to anyone's genealogy library.

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Cover of Sustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact From Fiction In Family Legends from the author's personal copy.

Photograph of Thomas Balch Library by the author.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Monday, September 22, 2014

Military Monday (September 22, 2014) -- Everett S. Carpenter in the Rhode Island Militia: Part II


My maternal grandfather, Everett Shearman Carpenter, served in World War I as has been discussed previously here at The Prism. He served for a time in France and ended his service on a courier mission back to Washington, DC in July 1919.  He was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant at Camp Meigs in the District of Columbia on July 17, 1919.

After returning to his home in Rhode Island, my grandfather at some point joined the Rhode Island Militia. As the promotion paper shown above illustrates, Everett Shearman Carpenter was promoted to the rank of Major in the Rhode Island Militia on September 20, 1945 -- just over sixty-nine years ago.

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Scan of the original promotion certificate in the collection of the author.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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