Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Serendipity (May 18, 2013)

Saturdays often allow a more leisurely approach to life than work days. I can more easily post links to some blog posts or other materials I have discovered during the week, or even to those discovered during a Saturday morning coffee and extended surfing of the blogosphere/internet.

Here are a few serendipitous discoveries from this week that I commend for inclusion on your reading list.

1.  Last Saturday I mentioned an interesting read about how all of us in the Western Hemisphere could descend from Charlemagne.  This week I mention what I think is a MUST READ for anyone doing genealogy and constructing a family tree.  The Weekly Genealogist from NEHGS scores again with a link to this fascinating read at the National Geographic website titled "Charlemagne's DNA and Our Universal Royalty."  You really need to check this one out!  Teaser quote from the article . . . 

"When you draw your genealogy, you make two lines from yourself back to each of your parents. Then you have to draw two lines for each of them, back to your four grandparents. And then eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great-grandparents, and so on. But not so on for very long. If you go back to the time of Charlemagne, forty generations or so, you should get to a generation of a trillion ancestors. That’s about two thousand times more people than existed on Earth when Charlemagne was alive."

2.  Last month Heather Kuhn Roelker at Leaves for Trees had a series of three posts about her ancestor Daniel D. Lightner, a brave and determined Abolitionist.  When I read the following article about the creative and desperate actions taken by some slaves to gain their freedom, I could not help but appreciate yet again the efforts of 19th Century American Abolitionists and of Heather's ancestor.  Read here at The Root about Job ben Solomon and especially about Henry Box Brown and the way each gained his freedom from the abomination of slavery.  HINT:  Mr. Brown's given middle name was not Box.

3.  All of us who do genealogical research at one time or another come across the frustration of name changes.  In my own genealogy I have more than a few such as Cook vs. Cooke, Shearman vs. Sherman, Miller vs. Millard.  Upfront With NGS provided some nice links about the challenge, frustration and even the whimsy of names over time and in genealogy research.  I recommend checking some of the links and especially the post at Genealogy's Star by James Tanner (one of FTM's Top 40 Blogs for 2013).  James offers his basic rules about genealogy research and the spelling of names in a post from last month called "Names -- A Blessing or a Curse.

4.  We genealogists (professionals, amateurs and dabblers alike) all search for and use obituaries at one time or another -- those brief attempts to summarize, inform and, occasionally, in the best written examples, to give color to a life that has run its course.  Obituaries can often be genealogical gold.  But have you ever wondered about those folks who labor to write those life summaries knowing they are to be published at a time when friends and loved ones are still raw with the pain of loss?  And have you ever read an obituary and found yourself saying something like, "Wow, I never heard of this person, but what an interesting life he or she led?"  Well, if so, you need to read this pearl about writing obituaries and the service they perform  -- AND you can learn what "Linear B" is, who Alice Elizabeth Kober was, and why she was a very interesting woman who was almost lost to history. 

5.  Last week in Saturday Serendipity I mentioned learning about the "Orphan Trains" while doing some research about the New York Foundling home.  This week I discovered at Dionne Ford's blog, Finding Josephine, that there is a new novel by Christina Baker Kline titled Orphan Train.  While the book is fiction, it is based on the factual history of hundreds of thousands of orphaned children being shipped on trains to the Midwest.  The author was interviewed on NPR's Weekend Edition last month.  You can listen to the 7 1/2 minute interview and learn more about Orphan Trains and the novel here
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew

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  1. Another great list of links, John! You are so kind to include my Daniel Lightner posts. It reminds me that I want to find out more about him...perhaps I need to reach out to the local historical society. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. My pleasure Heather!

    I find the Abolitionists, especially those who acted at risk to their lives and fortunes, to be fascinating and brave personalities. Reading about the transitional moment for you ancestor was gripping. While I know there were abolitionists in my Carpenter family, I have yet to discover if they were anything more than vocal, paper or maybe minor financial donor Abolitionists. To have a known action-oriented Abolitionist such as Daniel in your genealogy is an endowment for your family IMHO. It provides them with an example of what personal transformation and moral bravery are about. In this regard I view Abolitionists like Daniel as people of great courage in the same way as the Founding Fathers and the common foot soldiers were. They took a stand and put their lives and the family's fortunes on the line for something greater than themselves. Daniel and others like him need to be remembered and celebrated so they can make us pause and consider our own positions and actions on issues of justice and equality that we struggle with today. Thank you again for sharing Daniel's story with us!

  3. A very thoughtful group of links, John. Thanks for taking the time to share them with us, stirring our minds and hearts.

  4. Well put, John. I will definitely be sharing the lessons of Daniel with my boys.