Sunday, June 30, 2013

Samaritan Sunday (June 30, 2013)

[If you should choose to adopt this prompt to contribute stories of folks who have gone out of their way to lend genealogy-related assistance to others, I would greatly appreciate a mention to Filiopietism Prism whenever you do so.  Thank you!  And please do use the same photograph below to illustrate the prompt.  ;-) ]

Some of the most mundane items that have little or no intrinsic value can often take on the most incredible importance and meaning to us.  For example, I have a brass letter opener bearing the Green Cross for Safety emblem on its handle.  The letter opener was used daily by my maternal grandparents and I recall admiring it on visits to their home in Cumberland, Rhode Island when I was quite young.  It was one of the only items I asked for when my grandmother passed away in 1979.  It is probably more than sixty years old now and I use it myself almost every day. For this reason, I can imagine what "Kuraki" must have gone through when his father died and he desperately searched for his Dad's Schrade Old Timer pocket knife and then years later had it returned as the result of a Good Samaritan moment.   

Kuraki's father was obviously of the generation (long before the regrettable security aftermath of 9-11) when a pocket knife was a cherished tool that was carried everywhere and used almost daily.  Kuraki searched in vain for his Dad's pocket knife and finally gave up; but then a Good Samaritan emerged and . . . Well, I'll have Kuraki tell the full story in his own words.  

[WARNING:  The story by "Kuraki" is posted here at a website I stumbled across in a search, but I am posting the full story verbatim rather than just directing readers to the site because a few of the comments about the story use exuberant language that might be perceived as unnecessary and offensive to some. I know nothing about the site other than finding this story there.

"My father, after battling multiple sclerosis for 30 years, passed away in August of 2008. I have many things of his, that my mother gave me being his only son. Some of them have great monetary value, like certain rifles and scopes, or the Zeiss field glasses she bought him as a Christmas gift 10 years ago. But there was one thing I searched for after the funeral. One thing that I desperately desired to have, because it was something I remembered from my childhood, something that he had always had with him, something that to me embodied who he was: a frugal man who only spent as much as he had to in order to obtain an acceptable level of quality to serve his purposes. The item I was looking through desk drawers, coat pockets, and cubby holes for, was his Schrade Old Timer pocket knife. He actually had two, and I could find neither. My father was only kept from being an A&E "Hoarder" by my mother's need for cleanliness and organization, and finding something like a little pocket knife was next to impossible. Eventually I wrote it up as being lost for good, as it had become a common occurrence during his last few years.

A few short weeks ago, the life insurance salesman that my parents dealt with had stopped by to see my mother. She still hadn't gotten rid of my father's hunting attire, though I had no use for it being 2 sizes larger and 6" taller. The insurance man however was a hunter and during small talk she mentioned all those clothes she couldn't bear to deal with. He offered to help her going through them, and when she asked him to simply put them in a garbage can for her, he offered to buy them, being of similar size. My mother asked him to take them all and enjoy them, happy to be rid of them and happy they would find use elsewhere, with the one caveat that should he find anything in the pockets that he return them, an old, worn pocket knife in particular.

I took my mom out to dinner tonight, and she asked me to hold out my hand. As I did she dropped this  into it. [The original post had a photo of Kuraki's Dad's Old Timer pocket knife but the image is no longer available]  I've rarely been so pleasantly surprised. I know it's not much, on a forum where expensive knives are showcased often, but it means the world to me, that an honorable man would spend the time to return such a trinket simply because it was important to a stranger.

I miss you, Dad, but now I'll forever have this bit of you with me."

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Photograph of the The Good Samaritan sculpture by Francois-Leon Sicard (1862 - 1934).  The sculpture is located in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, France.  The photograph is by Marie-Lan Nguyen and has been placed in the public domain by her. See,
 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday Serendipity (June 29, 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.  This week the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled in two landmark matters affecting equal rights of Americans and the genealogy blogosphere -- being fully in touch with the present and concerned about the future as well as the past -- weighed in with commentary.  I recommend two of them for your reading list if you have not already seen them.  Judy Russell at The Legal Genealogist and Thomas MacEntee at the gathering place for genealogy bloggers, GeneaBloggers.  I especially like and agree with the following quote from Thomas, "Your opinions on marriage equality (or any past or present practice such as polygamy, bigamy, murder, slavery, incest, etc.) really don’t matter.  Your task is to find the facts, prove them and then determine how they figure into your family history.  No one said anything about ‘liking’ what your ancestors did or agreeing with those practices.  It simply is what it is."

[If you missed it, my modest contribution to the subject was a "Wordless Wednesday" post here -- with thanks to Judy Russell for use of her Red, White and Blue equality image.]

2.  None of us ever really knows what we will do when suddenly faced with an emergency or crisis.  I doubt Mike Patterson could have told you with certainty ahead of time what he would do when he heard the terrified screams of a 4-year-old girl while out with his 9-year-old son.  Read this story of true heroism and perhaps you might want to help in some small way.   

3.   Upfront With NGS provided a nice tip and link to this fascinating site displaying photographs of famous landmarks during their construction stages (the Golden Gate Bridge, the Eiffel Tower and especially the Statue of Liberty are among those shown).  This is well worth the trip! 

4.  It is always good to be reminded of the need for permission and discretion when disclosing information about living ancestors or relatives.  The Weekly Genealogist by NEHGS provided a link to this article, which I commend as a quick-read reminder.    

5.  Citation in genealogy seems to be a regularly recurring topic of discussion and The Prism joined a recent dialog here this past week.  Three blog posts in particular are part of the dialog and I suggest you visit them to see what you think:  James Tanner at Genealogy's Star; Harold Henderson at Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog; and Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings.   

6.  Heather Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy posted here about the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum in Allenstown, NH at Bear Brook State Park.  It is apparently one of "the most perfectly preserved CCC camps" in the country.  As I mentioned to Heather, I have never visited the museum at Bear Brook, but I have seen many other CCC projects in parks. I am always very impressed with the stone workmanship and the fact that the structures have aged so well in most cases.  [Many of you have probably also enjoyed the work of the CCC and perhaps not realized it.  Check out more about the CCCand its accomplishments and influence here.]  Heather is making her Bear Brook CCC post the first in a new series she is calling "20th Century Americana."  I look forward to enjoying more posts in this series and suggest you visit Nutfield Genealogy regularly too so as not to miss any.

7.  Those of us who do genealogy learn again and again that one never knows when and where a clue might emerge that causes us to look anew at something we have not noticed previously.  As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, but Jana Last at Jana's Genealogy and Family History Blog gives us an example of how three simple words can lead to viewing familiar family photographs in a whole new light.  First read Jana's "Carl Albert Gillberg's Two Declarations of Intention" here and then look at her post from this past Monday, June 24th here.  Three little words can focus attention where perhaps a thousand previous views did not.  You gotta love those serendipitous clues that suddenly jump out and bite you!  

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Fotos (June 28, 2013) -- Clifford, Edna and Mildred Tarr 1920

Clifford, Edna and Mildred Tarr out on a drive (location unknown)

Judging by the foliage on the trees in the distance and the grass still dark beside the stone wall, this photo was probably taken in the late summer to early fall.  The location is unknown, but the year was 1920.  The drive must have been at a somewhat leisurely pace (or the car was stopped to pose for the photograph) because the woman in the back is not holding on to her hat.  It must have been cool because the driver is wearing an overcoat and the woman in back appears to have a jacket on.  The photograph seems to capture a nice family drive on what probably passed for an improved roadway at the time since it is wide, level and nicely groomed without obvious pot holes or other depressions.

This is a family outing of the Clifford and Edna Tarr family.  Edna, the woman sitting in the back seat, is Edna Lillian (Tew) Tarr, the older sister of my paternal grandfather, Arnold G. Tew, Sr.  Sitting beside my grand aunt is her daughter, Mildred Tarr, who is about 9 years old at the time of this photograph.  The driver is Edna's husband and Mildred's father, E. Clifford Tarr.

Since the Ford Model A did not come out until 1927, the Tarr's automobile is undoubtedly a Ford Model T (also known as the Tin Lizzie).  The Model T was produced from 1908 until 1927 when the Model A replaced it.  By May 26, 1927 some 15 million Model Ts had been produced.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Photograph courtesy of my cousin, Bruce Marquardt, son of Mildred Marquardt nee Tarr (the little girl in the back seat).
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday (June 27, 2013) -- Ruth Cooke's 1904 Letter To Her "Aunt"

This 109-year-old letter is a real treasure for me because it was written by my maternal grandmother when she was a mere six years old in March 1904 (or as she puts it in the letter, "I am not seven year old").  I smile every time I read this letter not just because it is a cute letter from a little girl to her "auntie francis," but because my grandmother was later such a stickler for spelling that she would sometimes reply to my occasional letters or cards when I was young and gently weave spelling corrections into her return letter or note.

This letter is also heart-wrenching to read now that I know the background to the letter and the future events that were about to befall my grandmother and her family after she wrote it.  Additionally, the letter presents something of a mystery yet to be fully solved.  

My grandmother's father, Walter Wilson Cooke, had only one sibling -- a sister named Flora -- so she was not "auntie francis."  As for my grandmother's mother, Florence Leonette "Nettie" Cooke nee Flagg, I thus far have her as an only child in my genealogy research -- which could very well be the case since her mother, Mary J. "Jennie" Flagg nee Eaton, died when Nettie was only two and a half years old.   This means that my grandmother's mother apparently had no sisters who could be the "auntie francis" my grandmother wrote to in 1904 (and later annotated in adulthood to indicate it was written to "Frances Stanley" who she did not then call "Aunt").  However . . . 

The 1880 federal Census enumeration for Attleborough (now Attleboro), Bristol County, Massachusetts dated June 17, 1880, p. 55, shows my great grandmother Nettie as a ten-year-old "boarder" in the household headed by Susannah Stanley, age 69, whose occupation was listed as "keeping house."  The only other member of the household at the time of the enumeration was the daughter of Susannah -- Frances Stanley, age 30, who was stated to be working "in a jewelry shop." I currently know of no relationship between the Stanley women and my great grandmother, but it appears that Frances Stanley must have been the "auntie francis" my grandmother wrote to at age six and that Frances never married, but maintained a close enough relationship with Nettie that Nettie's daughter, my grandmother, viewed her as "auntie francis" in 1904.  Since my grandmother's mother Nettie died a mere four months after this letter was written to "auntie francis," I am very glad my grandmother had an older woman [1]  she felt close enough to correspond with as a six-year-old; she never knew her maternal grandmother who died long before she was born!

What follows is a transcription of my grandmother's letter to Auntie Frances complete with the misspellings, capitalizations, and punctuations of a six-year-old girl.  Since the letter is not signed with a closing by my grandmother, I have never been sure if this was the entire letter -- and of course there is the mystery of why we have the letter if it presumably was actually sent to Frances.  

               Dear auntie francis

               I thank you for My valen tine, there are very 
               pret ty, and I thank you very
               much for them.

               Mamma has sent me a 
               valen tine and 
               Helen is at Boston.

               It is a stome day to day
               I can not make valen tine.  
               I was not School yesterday 
               have't we had a winter stom
               the School is very nice
               we have some bode
               to come to wrok for us
               we have new teacher
               now and Miss Gilmore
               has gone

               we like are new
               teacher very much
               we have some pretty
               christ presents
               we had lots of presnts
               from are teachers
               Miss looirs [?] has mooved
               we are all wall
               Loise is nine year old
               Dorothy is fore year  Also
               Russell is two year old
               and I am not sev en
               year old
               Loise is all right

Nettie, my grandmother's mother, died of "tuberculosis with tubercular laryngitis"on July 20, 1904 at age 34 (just about four months after this letter was written); but I believe a further complication contributing to Nettie's death was a "broken heart."  She had given birth to six children before she died and two of them predeceased her.  The survivors were: my grandmother Ruth (1897 - 1979); Helen (1892 - 1987) the first born and older of my grandmother's two surviving sisters; and Lois (1894 -     ).  Helen and Lois are mentioned in the letter. The two children who predeceased Nettie were both of her sons -- Russell (1893 - 1894) and the Russell referred to in the letter, Russell Church Cooke (1902 - April 23, 1904), who died just three or so weeks after my grandmother wrote the above letter and three months before his mother died.  The Dorothy mentioned in the letter was my grandmother's younger sister (1899 - 1907).  Dorothy later died at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on January 7, 1907 of typhoid fever with a contributory cause being a serious, massive ear infection.  My grandmother was particularly close to Dorothy and I have written about Dorothy elsewhere on The Prism.

Ruth Eaton Cooke (L) and her younger sister DorothyB. Cooke (R)

My grandmother died when I was just a couple of weeks shy of 27 years old and married.  In all the time I knew my grandmother, I never once heard her mention a sister Dorothy or the fact that she had two brothers named Russell.  I did know both of her older sisters, Helen and Lois.  After I discovered these three siblings of my grandmother through my genealogy research, my mother told me that her mother always said she would never name a son Russell.  Her only son was named David -- from whom I got my middle name.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

[1]  Frances Stanley would have been about age 54 in 1904.

Letter from the personal collection of the author.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wordless Wednesday (June 25, 2013) -- We Begin Today To Make These Truths Self-Evident, That All Men and Women Are Created Equal . . .

. . . And That They Are Endowed By Their Creator With Certain Unalienable Rights,
That Among These Are Life, Liberty, and

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Red, White and Blue from Judy Russell at The Legal Genealogist based on permission she gave Brad there today -- and that appears to extend to others who celebrate with her.  Thank you Judy!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday (June 25, 2013) -- O'Kane Gravestones in Northern Ireland

An O'Kane grave monument in St. Joseph's graveyard outside Dungiven, Northern Ireland.

In 2009, Molly and I finally made it to Ireland!  Molly's Irish roots run deep on her father's and her mother's side; mine are not quite so deep, but my paternal great grandmother, Maggie Conner, was born in Massachusetts to parents who both came over from Ireland in about 1851.  Molly's O'Kane family is from County Derry in Northern Ireland and my Irish family is from County Roscommon. 

We spent about three weeks in Ireland during our trip and drove the entire circumference of the island touring both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.  One of our goals was to do a little genealogy investigation while we were there and so we visited Roscommon and Derry.  While in Derry, we went to the town of Dungiven where Molly's family came from.  We visited churches and graveyards in the Dungiven area for an entire day looking for possible ancestors of Molly's.  We eventually found a very kind parish priest, Father Brady in Garvagh, County Derry, who generously took the time to pull parish records and find the handwritten birth and baptism record for Molly's great grandfather, Daniel O'Kane!


Before we dropped in on Father Brady unannounced and out of the blue, we visited four different graveyards and took photographs of all the O'Kane gravestones we could identify in and around the Dungiven/Garvagh area -- a total of about 132 photographs.  When we returned to the U.S., the gravestone photographs were downloaded to an album and a notice was posted on the "O'Kane Family Genealogy Forum" at GenForum that O'Kane gravestone pictures from the Dungiven area were available for sharing.  Since 2009 there have been a number of inquiries for the photographs from various locations including Massachusetts, Ireland and Australia -- and at least one found an ancestor among the photos!

Below are some samples of O'Kane gravestones from the Dungiven/Garvagh area of Northern Ireland.

In the Errigal Old Church graveyard, Glenullin.

In the Dungiven Catholic Church graveyard.
In St Mary's graveyard in Garvagh showing the popular use of decorative stone and plot borders.
Another example of decorative stone with a photo of the deceased on the stone.
Close up showing use of a photograph of the deceased, Joe O'Kane.

Use of colored decorative stone.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

All photographs by the author.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Monday, June 24, 2013

In Form vs. Substance, Substance Reigns Supreme in Genealogy Citation

Over the last week or so several genealogy blogs have taken up the topic of citation in genealogy.   Today at  Genea-Musings Randy Seaver summarizes the same three blog posts I read over the last week or so:  James Tanner at Genealogy's Star on June 2nd; Bill West at West in New England on June 17th; and Harold Henderson at Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog on June 21st. Below is the two cents worth I had prepared on this topic based on comments I posted on Bill West and Harold Henderson's blogs over the last few days.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

As a graduate student many years ago, I taught a couple of courses at the college level.  Several years later I taught legal research and writing at a paralegal school and a local community college. The college and later courses were from different disciplines so, of course, each had their own citation peculiarities. 

I was once told that many of the citation conventions (regardless of the academic discipline) were holdovers from days when typesetting demands, labor and costs drove spacing, abbreviation, and other citation "rules." I don't know how true this explanation is, but I dutifully taught "proper" citation form in my classes and then always told the students that the MOST important thing is really not the form of the citation because proper form can still contain errors. The most important thing is to provide enough ACCURATE information that anyone wanting to go to your source can find it quickly, easily and precisely.  I stressed that the first and foremost duty of source citation is to get the substantive information right and then worry about the format -- especially if you are trying to publish in a journal or other academic publication.  I know many purists in a wide variety of academic disciplines have cringed at "improper" formatting, but the true test is can one find the source with the information supplied no matter whether it meets punctilious citation form or not.   I believe this to ultimately be just as true in the field of genealogy as in other disciplines.  

I don't want anyone to get me wrong . . . I believe citation of sources is very important and while I usually do not use formal citation here on The Prism, I have done so carefully where I have published previously in a professional journal or magazine.  The use of conventional citation form has its place for immediate recognition of the source location in an economic space, but citation in my view is an action.  It is what one does to point others toward the source for a fact or assertion one is making.  As such, a citation (in the noun sense) has two necessary parts:  the substantive information it contains and the form or format in which the information is presented.  I maintain that by far the more important element is the substantive information and I offer examples below to make my point.

In the discipline of law, the bible for proper citation has long been the so-called Bluebook.  It prescribes the rules or conventions of order, abbreviation, spacing and punctuation for "proper" citation.  For citation to decisions of the United States Supreme Court there are up to four different sources for finding the ruling or decision of the Court in a given case.  They are: United States Reports, which is the official publication of the U.S. Government; the Supreme Court Reporter, which is an unofficial reporter usually cited as the first option to United States Reports; and two others, United States Supreme Court Reports -- Lawyer's Edition and United States Law Week.

To illustrate the importance of substantive information over form, let's take the famous school desegregation case of Brown, et al, versus Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.  

The proper citation form for this case in the official reporter is Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).  This tells a reader familiar with legal citations that the decision was rendered by the United States Supreme Court in 1954 and the Court's ruling can be found in the official reporter, United States Reports, beginning at page 483 in Volume 347 of that official reporter. The ruling of the Court in Brown could also be cited as Brown v. Board of Education, 74 S. Ct. 686 (1954).  This tells the reader to find the same decision of the Court at Volume 74 of the reporter known as the Supreme Court Reporter beginning at page 686. Both of these are correct citations for the famous Brown decision and are proper as to form.  The order would be the official cite first followed by the parallel citation . . . Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S. Ct. 686 (1954).  However, one could also write as a source citation . . .  "Brown et al., vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (decided 1954) at Vol. 347 United States Reports beginning at page 483 and also at Vol. 74 of Supreme Court Reporter beginning at page 686."  This would NOT be proper citation form (particularly for a scholarly legal article), but does anyone doubt that the "improper" citation contains all the necessary information for a reader to find the source quickly, easily and precisely?  

Now contrast the above citations to Brown with the following cite which is in proper form, but would make it nearly impossible for someone to find the case report.   Brown v. Board of Education, 74 U.S. 686, 347 S. Ct. 483 (1954).  As one can quickly see, the citation is correct in form but totally wrong in substance -- it switches the volume and page numbers and assigns them to the wrong reporter.  A reader could go to volume 74 of United States Reports page 686, but I can guarantee you that the reader would not find the Brown decision there.  It is the substantive information that is most important NOT the form.  As illustrated earlier, one can mix up the order and presentation of the substantive information and violate the rules of proper citation and yet still allow a reader to find the cited source quickly, easily and precisely.  You cannot maintain the citation form and mix up the substantive information and have any hope of finding the source quickly, easily and precisely.  I am sure I could provide a similar example using a genealogy citation to illustrate this point -- the presentation of accurate substantive information in a citation reigns supreme over punctilious demand for proper form and order in a citation!

Are use of accepted citation rules and conventions important?  Yes they are for purposes of speedy recognition and communication to those immersed in the subject at hand and for formal, academic publication purposes.  But in my humble opinion in this discussion over use of proper citation form, the ultimate goal of providing sufficient information to allow quick, easy and precise location of the cited source is most important!  As to evaluating the quality and quirks of a cited source, I would submit that those evaluations are best performed by going to the source itself and making the evaluation on the substance at the source level and not on the simple basis of the citation itself.

Just my two cents worth.  

And as Randy Seaver did, I want to thank James, Bill, Harold and Randy himself for raising this subject and initiating the dialog! 

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _    

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Samaritan Sunday (June 23, 2013)

[If you should choose to adopt this prompt to contribute stories of folks who have gone out of their way to lend genealogy-related assistance to others, I would greatly appreciate a mention to Filiopietism Prism whenever you do so.  Thank you!  And please do use the same photograph below to illustrate the prompt and to show it is adopted from this blog.  ;-) ]

Neysa Carpenter Garrett is my 4th cousin.  Joseph Carpenter (1789 - 1880) and his wife, Nancy Carpenter nee Bullock (1793 - 1880), are our common 3X great grandparents. I descend from Joseph and Nancy's son, Samuel Carpenter, and Neysa descends from their son, George Moulton Carpenter.  

Neysa and I met through a quest to locate a Carpenter family bible that was last known to be in the possession of my grandfather in June 1929; but my grandfather and his mother decided that it "would be honorable and just to give the Family Bible to the eldest son of Edmund J. Carpenter -- a brother of George M. Carpenter."  Edmund Janes Carpenter is Neysa's great grandfather and Edmund had three sons.  Through our mutual interest in Carpenter family genealogy, and Neysa's indefatigable efforts and detective skills, the very Carpenter Family Bible that had gone missing some 80 years earlier was found the summer of 2009. [1]  But this was not Neysa's only experience with a lost bible.  In 2009 Neysa also played the central role in a Good Samaritan moment involving another family's lost bible.

Neysa's cousin is the present owner of a historic home that sits on a lovely 33-acre property located in the unincorporated village of Upper Black Eddy, Bucks County, Pennsylvania (45 miles north of Philadelphia).  The property belonged to Neysa's maternal grandparents and before that it belonged to the Pursell-Gwinner family.  The land was originally deeded by William Penn to a John Chapman.  The original section of the home that sits on the property was built before the American Revolution and since that time it has been owned by only two families -- the Pursells until 1929 and Neysa's grandparents and their descendants since then.

The Pursell homestead in Upper Black Eddy circa 1870.  [Brice M. Pursell and his wife, Martha Poor Pursell standing outside the fence.  Their niece, Ollie Poor Bachman standing inside the fence.]

On a suffocatingly hot June afternoon in 2009, Neysa was rummaging through the attic of her cousin's home looking for photographs of deceased family members.  She suddenly spotted a large old book that  looked like it had been tucked up under the eaves.  Carefully retrieving the book, Neysa brought it out into some light streaming in through a window.  She expected the writing in the book to be in Danish, the language of her maternal grandparents, but was surprised to find that the book was in fact a King James bible with center pages clearly about the Pursell-Gwinner family -- and in particular about the fourth occupants of the Upper Black Eddy home.

Neysa knew that there were members of the Pursell family buried in a small, stonewalled graveyard on her grandparents'/cousin's property, and she knew there were some Purcells still in the Upper Black Eddy area, but none of the local, living Purcells seemed to be descendants of the Pursell family that once owned the subject property.  

If possible, Neysa wanted to find current Pursell-Gwinner family members that would cherish and preserve the bible.  When she spoke to her cousin about this desire, he mentioned that a Connecticut couple had unexpectedly dropped by a year or so earlier to ask permission to see and photograph the home that the wife's ancestors had once owned.  She was working on a genealogy of her family.  Since her cousin still had the name and address of the couple, he wrote them  and explained about the discovery of the family bible.  The couple replied and arranged to stop by the farm on their return from a vacation.  They stopped by for tea and left with a long-lost family bible -- and a Good Samaritan story to insert into the family genealogy.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

[1]  Neysa and I have collaborated on an article detailing our Carpenter family bible quest.  It might be the subject of a future post here at The Prism if we do not find a publisher for it elsewhere.

Photograph of the The Good Samaritan sculpture by Francois-Leon Sicard (1862 - 1934).  The sculpture is located in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, France.  The photograph is by Marie-Lan Nguyen and has been placed in the public domain by her. See,

Photograph of the Pursell Homestead provided by Neysa Garrett from a History of Bucks County.

Thank you to Neysa for telling me about this other bible story -- and for allowing me to use it as part of Samaritan Sunday on The Prism!
 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday Serendipity (June 22, 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.  What is a "mishpocha" and how does it relate to genealogy?   Mishpocha is a noun that entered the English language in the middle of the 19th Century.  It comes from Yiddish and Hebrew and is pronounced mish-PAW-khuh or sometimes mish-POOKH-uh.  Curious?  Go to this link and find out the answer.  Then, as they say, "use the word [in your genealogy writing and conversation] and it becomes yours."

2.  Heather Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy shares in photos what I think is a truly great Father's Day idea and tradition!  See the picture story here.

3.  Do you have ancestors in early Massachusetts (1600 - 1850)?  If so you need to be aware of the Massachusetts Vital Records Project by John Slaughter.  The resource is explained and illustrated in a June 12th post by Jane Sweetland at her blog AncestryInk.  Read her post here and then visit the project at the link just above.  Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings also did a post on this database complete with screen shots.  See Randy's post here.  

4.  Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings provides a wonderful list of quotes about fathers and fatherhood here including three gems from none other than Randy himself.  Enjoy!

5.  In the wake of all the publicity surrounding Angelina Jolie's action after discovering she has the BRCA mutation -- and the recent SCOTUS decision on the patentability of naturally occurring human genes (see Judy Russell's synopsis as linked to in last week's Saturday Serendipity) -- I highly recommend reading guest blogger Colter Brian's  "How Genealogy Research Can Save Your Life" at UpFront with NGS here.    

6.  As we all know, Genealogy is at least a specialized branch of the study of History -- although I would argue that Genealogy is actually the root stock of History since back when knowledge was first transmitted through oral recitation, people were first concerned with the personal background and history of their families and tribes before they concerned themselves with learning about unrelated others.  Well, if you have not already seen or heard about it, you should check out the cover story for last Sunday's Washington Post Magazine.  It is a fascinating read about a man in Fairfax, Virginia whose amateur love of history has led him to amass "one of the largest and most significant private collections of African American artifacts in the country."  Oh, and did I mention that the collector, Mark Mitchell, is not African American himself?  If you do not get the Post, you can read the article on line here and see photos of some of the amazing items in Mr. Mitchell's collection.  

7.  Unintended consequences or just a dumb law?  Ken and Nicole were digging post holes on their property in Ontario, Canada when some bones were discovered.  Human bones.  Bones of a 24 year old woman who died in the late 1500s or early 1600s.  Ken and Nicole reported the find to authorities and an anthropologist arrived to examine the site.  Congratulations Ken and Nicole for your good deed -- you now owe $5,000 under Ontario's Funeral, Burial and Cremation Act!  Say what!??  Read here the full story of what I think is a really, really dumb law that is short-sighted to say the least.

8.   The Weekly Genealogist by NEHGS provides a link to A Story of Interest this week about the restoration and reopening of the birthplace of Abigail Adams in North Weymouth, Massachusetts.  The article can be read here and you can see a 1947 photograph showing how the home was sawed in half and moved to its present location.

9.  As DNA testing becomes more and more popular as an additional genealogy research tool, there are increasing numbers of stories illustrating how DNA can fill in genealogy gaps.  Here is one such success story with more than a few twists and turns!

10.  UpFront With NGS provides a handy little "infographic" first posted June 11th by Family Tree Magazine on its Facebook page.  It is a guide to help provide clues by ancestor birth date as to what wars an ancestor might have fought in.  I think it is a tool worth printing off and sticking somewhere that you can glance at any time you come across ancestor birth dates.  It might help guide you to the next place you want to look for records on that ancestor.  AND, more recently (June 19th) on the Family Tree Magazine Facebook page, is another infographic useful to those with Irish ancestry -- it displays graphically the number of Irish immigrants to the U.S. from 1821 - 1920.

11.  AND, last but not least, the current issue of TIME magazine (June 24, 2013) has a major article titled, "The Rise of Cremation."  This is an interesting and informative read with possible implications for genealogists. In 1998 about 24% of deceased Americans chose to be cremated versus being buried.  In 2011that percentage had grown to 42.2% overall, but some states (Nevada, Rhode Island, Oregon and Washington for example) now have more than 70% of citizens choosing to be cremated.  Nevada leads the pack at 74% cremations -- almost three quarters of deaths in that state! Now add to those statistics the fact that currently only a third of the so-called "cremains" are buried and memorialized in traditional cemeteries or columbaria -- whereas two thirds are either taken home or scattered somewhere -- and creation of permanent memorials to the deceased could slowly become a thing of the past (to the chagrin of genealogists who see such memorials as a research source).  As one member of the funeral industry put it, "Throughout history, we have not only stopped and celebrated people's lives, but we've tried to create a permanent memorial so they'll be remembered.  And I think we may now have a whole generation of people where there's no permanent remembrance of that person."

Estimates are that if trends continue by 2017 half of all post-death decisions in the U.S. will be in favor of cremation. 
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _