Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (November 21, 2015)

After another brief hiatus for a trip to the Adirondacks, Saturday Serendipity returns this week with a few recommended reads for this last weekend before the Thanksgiving rush.

1.  This week The Weekly Genealogist by NEHGS offered a link to a NYT article titled "America, the Not So Promised Land" about some realities and myths concerning migration to the United States. You can read the article here.

2. UpFront With NGS blog posted this morning the program for the 2016 Family History Conference to be held in Ft. Lauderdale, FL from May 4 - 7. You can read more about the Conference and get links to the program here.

3. I have often wondered about the enumerators identified on the early U.S. Census reports we have all used at one time or another. How were they chosen? What did their commissions and work actually involve? How much were they paid? And so on and so forth. Well, this week Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings blog provided the transcription of an article from the May 24, 1900 San Diego Weekly Union that provides some interesting information and answers. You can read Randy's transcription here.

4. One of the unwritten "rules" about public on-line genealogy trees is the avoidance of showing living family members without their permission. I think this is an excellent rule and I try to follow it with respect to both my family trees and posts on this blog. But the always thoughtful James Tanner raises an interesting alternate view in his post at Genealogy's Star blog, "Live People and Online Family Trees -- What is the Reality Here?" Read his thought provoking piece here.

5.  Our favorite legal genealogist, Judy Russell, came across an old New York statute that surprised even her.  It dealt with divorce and the right to remarry in New York up until 1967. Previous to 1967 a divorce could only be granted on the basis of adultery by a spouse. But it was the repercussion of being found guilty of adultery that so surprised Judy.  Read why here at The Legal Genealogist blog. 

6.  And finally, I have to recommend "Old New England Pie Crust: Tough Recipes for Tough People" by Peter Muise at his New England Folklore blog. Peter's Thanksgiving menu reads almost exactly like the one I grew up with and still must have for it to feel like a real Thanksgiving. The holy trinity of Thanksgiving pies was, is, and always will be apple, mince meat, and pumpkin/squash. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing (not the highfalutin "dressing"), cranberry sauce, butternut squash, and small onions rounded out our holiday fare. Peter gives us a nice tutorial on early pie crust recipes and challenges in New England.  Read Peter's amusing and informative post here.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (November 7, 2015)

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

1.  Here is an interesting read about an archeology dig in Lexington, Massachusetts that recently unearthed some British regular and colonial musket balls. The dig is on what was the farm of Tabitha Nelson. Nelson's farm was in the line of the British retreat from Concord on what became the first day of the American Revolution.  

2.  NEHGS has a few items of note in The Weekly Genealogist newsletter this week: (1) The name index to the 1910 US Census has been added to NEHGS research database library; (2) A call has gone out to try to locate descendants of pre-famine Irish immigrants to Rhode Island (1825 - 1845) whose ancestors might have helped build Fort Adams (contact Jessica Neuwirth, exhibit developer at Providence Children's Museum, with any information by December 31, 2015 at or 401-273-5437, ext. 103.); and (3) An interesting database you can read about here that was compiled by NPR of American veterans secretly exposed to mustard gas in military experiments done during WWII (the database has more than 3,900 individuals in it).

4.  Vita Brevis, from NEHGS and American Ancestors, has an interesting piece by Zachary Garceau about the fluid nature of borders and how it can affect genealogical research.  Read the article here. There is also a piece by Alicia Crane Williams about the problem of citing internet sources that is well worth checking out (including the comments). You can find the posting here.

5.  Heard of the new site called DNA.Land?  According to a post at UpFront With NGS, the site is not connected to any DNA testing service and has the potential to develop into a useful and needed tool to aid in analyzing your DNA results. You can read more and get links here.

6.  And finally, from The Vault comes a gem of early 20th Century misogyny.  Have a look here at a compendium titled "Bachelor Bigotries." This little collection can be read like a daily horoscope (horrorscope?) to learn about all the evils of marriage and women so you can see the item for today -- November 7th -- as well as the entire month of November. Oh . . . and you should know that this little gem was compiled BY A WOMAN (Laura Brace Bates).

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Heather's Honor Roll Project -- Veterans Day 2015

Heather Wilkinson Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy started an Honor Roll Project in 2010. The goal of the project is to post photos of various war memorials and honor rolls along with the transcriptions of the names on the memorials/honor rolls in order to make the names available for search engines. In this way, people can search for family members, ancestors and friends. This is a VERY worthwhile project and I want to participate in even a small way to support Heather (my blogging mentor and, incidentally, a distant cousin).

To participate in Heather's project this coming Veterans Day, I offer a photograph and transcriptions of names from a memorial in Leesburg, the county seat of Loudoun County, Virginia.  Leesburg is located about 35 miles northwest of Washington, DC.  In the center of historic downtown Leesburg sits the county courthouse "campus." This is where the county has erected memorials to those from Loudoun County who served in various wars -- many of whom gave their lives in service to their country. In past years, photos and name transcriptions of the memorials for World War I, World War II, and the Korean War have been posted here at The Prism as contributions to Heather's project.

The courthouse "campus" in downtown Leesburg, Virginia

The lower courthouse "campus" looking up at the memorial monoliths in the right side of the photograph.

For Heather's Honor Roll Project and Veterans Day 2015, the Loudoun County, Virginia memorial to those who served in the Vietnam War is presented below.

Twelve residents of Loudoun County, Virginia made the ultimate sacrifice during the war in Vietnam. The names of the fallen are . . .

               Welby H. Grayson, III
               Richard B. Grigsby
               Jack Harris, Jr.
               David F. Helms
               Leonard W. Kidd
               Francis E. Manuel
               Weyland F. McCauley, Jr.
               Ralph W. Melbourne
               Richard S. Pohl
               Gregory M. Howard
               David A. Russell
               Charles E. Peters
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Veterans Day 2015 image from , the website of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs -- National Cemetery Administration. 

Photos of the memorial and the County Courthouse campus in Leesburg, Virginia by the author.

Name transcriptions by the author.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (October 31, 2015)

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

1.  With DNA becoming an increasingly important part of genealogy, there is a fascinating piece in the Washington Post today.  Read about how a couple apparently had a child fathered genetically by the unborn twin of the husband. Read more about how this was possible and learn about "chimerism" here.

2.  From UpFront With NGS blog comes a couple items of interest this week . . . An index of 1.5 million National Railroad Pension Records is being made available for FREE through the Midwest Genealogy Center. If you have ancestors or relatives who you know or think worked on the railroads and retired from that employment, you should check out the info and links here. Also, have you heard that 23andMe is now apparently "the first and only genetic service" that can include "reports that meet FDA standards?" This means that 23andMe can now make available reports that include health related information and show "carrier status, wellness, trait and ancestry reports." Read more about this development and get links here.            

3.  Part 5 of James Tanner's series on how to work with large online genealogy programs was posted yesterday on his Genealogy's Star blog. I found this series to be thoughtful and useful. Read Part 5 and get links to the earlier posts here.      

4.  Heather Rojo's post this week at Nutfield Genealogy blog was a reminder to me that her Honor Roll project comes around again for Veteran's Day. If you are not familiar with Heather's inspired project, you really must go here to read about it. Her project aims to collect blog posts of photos of war memorials and honor roles WITH transcriptions of the names on the monuments so that a searchable database can be created. I have contributed in the past and this is a reminder that I need to get transcribing and posting to make Heather's Veteran's Day (November 11th) post of contributing bloggers.  This great project has been ongoing since Heather's first post in 2010 and it grows with each passing Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. Search your photos to see what you already have and can transcribe OR take a trip this weekend to your local monuments and memorials, take a photo, and do a transcription to post in time to add to Heather's November 11th compilation post of all contributions!    

5.  Most of us are familiar with the often heard saying used to mark the start of the autumnal season . . .  "when the frost is on the pumpkin." But did you know this is the opening line of a poem by James Whitcomb Riley?  Bill West of West in New England blog reminds us once again of Riley's two most famous poems.  Read "When the Frost is on the Punkin" here and then go to yesterday's "Little Orphant Annie" here.  

6.  How many different kinds of genealogists are there . . . and which one describes you or your family genealogist best? Read here the post by Lorine McGinnis Schulz at the Legacy News blog to find out.    

7.  OK. I have to admit that I am a complete newbie to DNA testing and its use in genealogy.  I have had both my parents and a fairly close cousin of my father's sampled and tested, but I have not yet spent the time to delve into the interpretation and synthesis of the results for purposes of contributing to my family trees.  It is on my ever-growing "to do" list now that my retirement has begun and theoretically is supposed to give me more time for my genealogy pursuits. So it is with this background (or lack thereof) that I found Diane Maclean Boumenot's series "DNA and Me" informative and inspiring.  Part III of Diane's series (with links) can be read here on her One Rhode Island Family blog.     

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (October 24, 2015)

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

1.  If you happen to be a Mayflower descendant from Richard and Elizabeth Warren, you should read "Elizabeth Warren: A Shock of Corn Fully Ripe" in the most recent issue of The Mayflower Quarterly, Vol. 81, No. 3, September 2015 pp. 220 - 222.  

2.  Here is a welcome and encouraging story that genealogists can celebrate. Courtesy of NEHGS's The Weekly Genealogist comes an article about a one semester elective genealogy course offered at Old Rochester Regional High School in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. Read the full article here.    

3.  Also courtesy of NEHGS is an interesting piece on how the 50 states came by their names. You can learn about the naming of the various states here.

4.  Have you ever thought about the possibility you might someday want to donate your genealogy research in order to assure its preservation? If so -- or if you just want to learn a bit more about such donations -- have a read of the post and links at UpFront With NGS blog here.    

5.  Did you know that deletes some of its collections and databases? Neither did I. But, blogger Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings blog keeps a close eye on Ancestry databases and he recently noticed 567 databases suddenly went missing. Read about Randy's discovery of the database disappearance here and the follow-up answer here.  

6.  Did you hear that Google won an important appeal in a suit over copyright vs. fair use with the Authors Guild? As you would expect, The Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell, explains it all for us.  You can read Judy's excellent explanation here

7.  Barbara Poole of Life From The Roots blog has another wonderful photo tour post that is very timely as we approach Halloween.  Barbara visited Van Otis Chocolates in Manchester, NH. Her photos are so sweet they could give you a good start on a cavity just looking at them -- but it is worth the risk.  See the post here.

8.  And finally, to get you into the Halloween spirit, there is a post about an old Ipswich ghost story at Peter Muise's blog New England Folklore. Read "Harry Main and the Black Cats from Hell" here.

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

"Was" or "Is" . . . What Tense Makes Most Sense For One's Ancestors? (October 22, 2015)

Those of us who are immersed in the hobby or profession of genealogy have innumerable opportunities to explain orally or in writing how a particular ancestor is related. Think of how many times you have had to use and complete a sentence such as this . . . "Jane [Doe] Public ___ my great great grandmother."  How do you usually complete such sentences about your ancestors? And does it matter?

I will admit that until recently I would almost always complete such explanatory sentences by using the past tense "was" to refer to any ancestor no longer among the living. I would easily explain, "Arnold and Shirley Tew are my parents." When my mother's mother was still alive, I would explain, "Ruth [Cooke] Carpenter is my grandmother." But in contrast I would always explain, "Richard Tew was my 8th great grandfather. And . . .  "Joseph Carpenter was my 3rd great grandfather."

More recently I have changed my thinking and tried to adopt as consistently as possible new language when discussing or explaining about my ancestors. Specifically, the change has involved a switch from the past tense to the present tense when mentioning my ancestors. 

Why is this? 

Well, does a great grandparent stop being a great grandparent by virtue of being deceased? The answer, of course, is no. A great grandparent of any level remains just as much an ancestor as a parent remains a parent -- whether alive or deceased. The confusion in use of tenses arises from the attempt to indicate both living/deceased status as well as relationship status when talking about an ancestor. In most cases, whether or not an ancestor is still alive will be easily and accurately communicated by the relationship level attached to the ancestor. For example, very few of us have living 2X or more great grandparents. Nobody has a living 8X great grandparent. Thus, there is no need to use the past tense "was" in order to communicate whether or not an ancestor (particularly a remote ancestor) is alive.

Especially in these days of DNA genealogy, it should be clear that we who are alive today carry with us in our DNA bits and pieces of our ancestors. It is what makes us who we are. In a very real and material way our ancestors exist with us every day. They are with us in the present tense and they never cease being who they are in relation to us even when deceased.

So . . . for me it is the present tense that makes the most sense when it comes to explaining or discussing one's ancestors. Just as my mother is Shirley [Carpenter] Tew, my paternal grandfather is Arnold G. Tew, Sr., my 9X great grandfather is William Carpenter, and my 8X great grandmother is Mary Clarke.

Are your ancestors with you in the present tense, or are they figures that happen to be part of your personal history and reside deceased in the past tense?   

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Image created by the author using the family's 1958 edition of "SCRABBLE For Juniors" manufactured by Selchow & Richter Co. for The Production and Marketing Company (the copyright owner).
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (October 10, 2015)

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

1.  Do you have any family members who served onboard the USS Sheridan or the USS Eldorado during WWII? If so, then you should check out the annotated map done by Navy signalman Bluford Clonts at The Vault. Mr. Clonts, who passed away in 1999, plots the tracks of the Sheridan and the Eldorado and provides notes on the back of his map.

2.  Also from The Vault is a piece about the discovery of the notes of William Still, a Philadelphian who documented and preserved his records of assistance rendered to runaway slaves on the Underground Railway. If you have any ancestors who made their way to freedom using the Underground Railway, then you should check out The Vault post here.

3.  Canada's History magazine has a very interesting article by Paul Jones about the publication of fake genealogies. Read here about the case of Gustave Anjou who authored some 300 ostensible genealogical works with false information about 2,000 different surnames.

4.  Upfront With NGS blog provides information and links about an Index for 1855 Valuation Rolls of Scotland. If you have Scottish roots, you might find this information of use to your research.  Read about the Index here.

5.  James Tanner at Genealogy's Star blog posted an informative piece about spam appearing as bogus comments on blog posts.  Have a read here.

6.  Think you have a witch in your genealogy?  If so, you should check out Heather Rojo's post at Nutfield Genealogy blog Ten Things to Know About Researching a Witch in Your Family Tree. Read Heather's timely post here.

7.  And finally, last week I recommended the book Leviathan, Eric Jay Dolin's 2007 history of whaling in America.  Quite to my surprise and delight, Mr. Dolin posted a comment to the recommendation and in so doing shared the news of his forthcoming new book about lighthouses in America.  If you have any family connections to keepers of lighthouses (or just a general interest in lighthouses), you will want to get Mr. Dolin's new book, BRILLIANT BEACONS: A HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN LIGHTHOUSE this coming April. Since I have a relative who was Assistant Keeper at Beavertail Lighthouse in Rhode Island in 1862, BRILLIANT BEACONS is already on my purchase list.

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Friday, October 9, 2015

Hunting for Abby . . . A Mystery Solved (October 9, 2015) -- Part IV

In this final post about finding the family of my 3X great grandmother, Abby [Hunt] Miller,  I reveal the last bits of evidence I have uncovered. These last items were discovered in a box of family documents that apparently were stored away in the back of a closet in my parents' house not too long after my maternal grandmother, Ruth E. [Cooke] Carpenter, died in 1979. When my parents later moved to New Hope, PA, the box was moved into a large storage closet in my sister's home and it remained there untouched until earlier this year when my sister said she had a box of photographs and other materials that I might want to look through.

One of the most important questions raised by a review of this analysis is whether or not the ostensible father of Abby Hunt was in fact Daniel S. Hunt as my grandmother's spoon notes indicated -- and as supported by the initials "DSH" on the heirloom spoon. While the vital records index for North Kingstown, RI shown in Part II, indicates that a "Samuel of Samuel" lived in North Kingstown and had a wife named "Susan" with whom he had seven daughters [Susan, Sally N., Charlotte, Ruth Ann, Lucy, Abbie, and Mary S.H.], there was no evidence of a Daniel S. Hunt having any presence or connection to North Kingstown. The supposition and assumption was that the "S" in Daniel S. Hunt stood for "Samuel" and that if Daniel was also known at some point as "Samuel, son of Samuel Hunt" in North Kingstown, then Maj. Daniel Hunt (who was born in North Kingstown) and his wife Susan/Susannah Northup (also born in North Kingstown) fit almost perfectly as the Samuel and Susan Hunt who were the parents of Abby, Charlotte, and Ruth Ann Hunt (and their four sisters) in North Kingstown, RI.

But is there any hard evidence to support the family notes and document clues about Daniel S. Hunt being connected to North Kingstown and particularly Cumberland, RI where Abby and Charlotte Hunt later came to reside in the Miller household at 551 High Street in Cumberland . . . and where their sister Ruth Ann Hunt came to marry Aurin Miller, who grew up at 551 High Street as the older brother of Abby's husband Eber Miller? Thanks to documents discovered in the long forgotten box of family records in my sister's house, the answer to this crucial questions is, "Yes!"

January 28, 1837 deed of North Kingstown property to Daniel Hunt from Lawton Hunt.

As shown in the 1837 deed discovered in the box of family documents, Daniel Hunt purchased from Lawton Hunt for $26.66 "one undivided half part of a certain tract or parcel of land situated in said North Kingstown, with a dwelling house & other buildings thereon." The subject parcel had been purchased by Lawton Hunt from one "Hazelton Hunt by deed bearing date August fourth, 1835, now on Record in said North Kingstown . . . " This provides clear evidence of the connection Daniel Hunt had to North Kingstown, RI and the Hunt family living and owning property there.

And what about a connection of Daniel Hunt to Cumberland, RI?  The two parts of an oversized deed also recently found in the box of family documents (shown immediately below) provide the necessary evidence of a Cumberland connection for Daniel Hunt.

Top half of the July 1, 1835 deed of Valley Falls property to Daniel Hunt from Nathaniel and Joseph Jenckes/Jencks

Bottom half of the July 1, 1835 deed of Valley Falls property to Daniel Hunt from Nathaniel and Joseph Jenckes/Jencks

The July 1, 1835 deed from "Nathaniel Jenckes of Burrillville and Joseph Jenckes of Smithfield" to "Daniel Hunt of Cumberland" for an acre and a half parcel of land with a dwelling house located in Smithfield at Valley Falls at the price of "Six Hundred and Five Dollars" provides clear evidence that Daniel Hunt resided in Cumberland in 1835.

Based on the newly discovered deeds shown above, the proven connection of Daniel Hunt to both North Kingstown and Cumberland, RI makes it overwhelmingly likely that the Daniel S. Hunt of my family notes and the "DSH" on the heirloom spoon is the Maj. Daniel Hunt, husband of Susan [Northup] Hunt, both of North Kingstown, RI, who are buried in Brayton Cemetery. Moreover, it also  makes it overwhelmingly likely that "Daniel S. Hunt" is indeed the son of Samuel Hunt of North Kingstown, RI who may have been known as "Samuel" and who fathered Abby, Charlotte, and Ruth Ann Hunt (and their four sisters) with his wife Susan/Susannah Northup as shown in the vital records index for North Kingstown.

And finally, perhaps the most surprising and valuable find among the recently uncovered family documents, is the portrait photograph of the woman shown at the top of this post. The date of the photograph is unknown, but, as the two images provided below clearly indicate in the handwriting of my great grandmother, Sarah [Freeman] Carpenter . . . the woman in the portrait is my 3X great grandmother Abby [Hunt] Miller (March 17, 1807 - April 23, 1893)!

Front of the Abby [Hunt] Miller portrait

Back of the Abby [Hunt] Miller portrait

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The scanned images shown above are all from original documents in the collection of the author.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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