Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saturday Serendipity (August 31, 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 discoveries that I recommend for inclusion on your reading list.

Bill West announced in his August 20th post at West in New England, his 5th annual "Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge" is now underway with plenty of lead time before the November 20th submission deadline.  Discover (or even write yourself) and then share on your blog those genealogy-related poems that have meaning to you, but be sure to get the post link to Bill by November 20th!  

2.  Barbara at Life From The Roots took a hiatus this summer and we are all beneficiaries of the photographs she took during her travels. I suggest you visit Barbara's blog and have a look.  I especially like the photos of the Watertown Free Public Library posted August 28th.  What a treasure that library is! 

3.  If you are a user of Facebook, you absolutely must read Judy Russell's post yesterday at The Legal Genealogist about proposed new changes in Facebook's TOS ("Terms of Service) relating to how they can use your name, profile picture, content and information "in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by [Facebook]."  [I am seriously contemplating removing myself from Facebook because I am increasingly less sure that (for me at least) the benefits outweigh the potential harm.]

4.  Providing fresh evidence that I am still a newbie to blogging and public writing in general, I just became aware of the existence of an annual "Excellence-in-Writing" competition and award program by the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE) -- an organization I was also not familiar with until now. The 2013 winners and Honorable Mentions in five categories have just been announced and you can see the list at UpFront With NGSYou will also be able to see the details for the 2014 competition, which will open on October 1, 2013, at the ISFHWE website here.

5.  If you think that the last tintype photographs of Americans in combat took place during the Civil War by the likes of Mathew Brady, then you should have a look at the video here.      

6.  In late May, Diane MacLean Boumenot at One Rhode Island Family highlighted and recommended four books and a magazine for our edification and reading pleasure.  Among the books was one by a favorite history writer of mine -- John M. Barry, author of The Great Influenza and Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.  The John Barry book recommended by Diane was Roger Williams and The Creation of the American Soul: Church, State and the Birth of Liberty.  Since I was born in Rhode Island, have a deep interest in the church/state issue, and really like John Barry's writing, I immediately added this book to my summer reading list.  I finished the book a few weeks ago during our Adirondacks vacation and I now want to add my enthusiastic support and recommendation to that of Diane.  Anyone with an interest in early colonial history (especially that of Rhode Island and Massachusetts) and the issue of religious freedom in the context of separation of church and state in America, should really read this book!

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

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

Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Fotos (August 30, 2013) -- A Presidential Testimonial Letter

My father is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point.  I have previously posted about his WWII service here on The Prism.

Most people are not aware that during World War II the Merchant Marine suffered higher casualty rates per capita than any other uniformed service.  The Germans targeted merchant ships because they were transporting critical war materiel and fresh troops.  The awful loss of merchant ships and their crews was actually kept quiet by the media at the time because the government did not want the Germans to have any success by their targeting campaign confirmed and because the government still needed more men to sign up for service.

Despite the promise of President Franklin D. Roosevelt that the mariners of the U.S. Merchant Marine and the Army Transport Service would be granted veteran status and a Seaman's Bill of Rights for their WWII service, the promise died with the President.  In the immediate aftermath of WWII, Merchant Marines received little recognition and no veteran benefits for their service.  In fact, it took the Department of Defense more than four decades after the war to allow honors such as service medals and the right to be buried in military cemeteries to be granted to veteran Merchant Marines!  Among the special medals, awards and other recognitions of service finally authorized and allowed pursuant to the Merchant Marine Decorations and Medals Act of 1988, 46 App. USC 2001, et seq., was the tenth listed "Other original recognition of service" for service in the U.S. Merchant Marine during WWII.  That recognition was as follows:

          (10) Presidential Testimonial Letter, signed by President Harry S Truman, to all active
          merchant seaman who sailed during World War II; 

The letter shown above is the document that was finally issued to my father more than 60 years after his WWII service in the U.S. Merchant Marine. 

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

Presidential testimonial letter from the collection of the author.

For more information and at least one view on the treatment of WWII Merchant Marines go here

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

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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Genealogy Poetry Challenge -- "Quite Frankly" by Mark Halliday

As Bill West announced in his August 20th post on West in New England, his 5th annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge is now underway with plenty of lead time before the November 20th submission deadline.  Since I was not blogging during the previous four Challenges, this will be my first opportunity to participate.  I am doing so early so I do not overlook the deadline.

I hope the submission to follow meets the Challenge guidelines.  

My ancestors are almost all from New England (Rhode Island and Massachusetts) by way of England, Ireland and a bit of Germany.  The poet I am submitting (Mark Halliday) is a contemporary poet who, while born in Michigan, was educated in New England -- at Brown in Rhode Island and Brandeis in Massachusetts.  His poem, titled Quite Frankly, was the poetry selection in the August 27, 2013 edition of Garrison's Keillor's The Writer's Almanac.  The poem itself follows my explanation below about how the poem relates to me. 

The poem is not specifically about an historical event, legend, person or place as the Challenge guidelines propose, but it relates to me and this blog because it goes to something that has always fascinated me -- old photographs and the moments in everyday lives they depict.  I find it impossible to look at old family photographs (many of which have been posted here) without pondering the reality that while the ancestors shown have passed on, during the moments in time when the photos were taken they lived and experienced all the elation, sadness, challenges, victories and defeats that come with life.  For me this poem evokes the same poignance that is captured, enveloped and preserved beyond death in photographs of long ago moments in a life.  I agree with Mr. Halliday.  There is an undeniable, exquisite beauty in looking at frozen moments in an ancestor's life. 

Quite Frankly

by Mark Halliday

They got old, they got old and died. But first—
okay but first they composed plangent depictions
of how much they lost and how much they cared about losing.
Meantime their hair got thin and more thin
as their shoulders went slumpy. Okay but

not before the photo albums got arranged by them,
arranged with a niftiness, not just two or three
but eighteen photo albums, yes eighteen eventually,
eighteen albums proving the beauty of them (and not someone else),
them and their relations and friends, incontrovertible

playing croquet in that Bloomington yard,
floating on those comic inflatables at Dow Lake,
giggling at the Dairy Queen, waltzing at the wedding,
building a Lego palace on the porch,
holding the baby beside the rental truck,
leaning on the Hemingway statue at Pamplona,
discussing the eternity of art in that Sardinian restaurant.

Yes! And so, quite frankly—at the end of the day—
they got old and died okay sure but quite frankly
how much does that matter in view of
the eighteen photo albums, big ones
thirteen inches by twelve inches each
full of such undeniable beauty?

"Quite Frankly" by Mark Halliday, from Thresherphobe. © The University of Chicago Press, 2013.

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

Poetry "Wordle" created by the author using

For more information about the Poet, Mark Halliday, see the Wikipedia entry for him here.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

First Cars (August 28, 2013) -- KIP-108

This is the latest in a series on "First Cars."  Previous posts have shown the first car my paternal grandfather bought and the first car my father bought.  

"First car" can mean many things and the next few posts in this series will demonstrate that. Americans love their cars and the automobile has occupied a large part of the everyday experience of most Americans for about a century now.  How else could we have had 254,212,610 registered passenger vehicles as of 2009 when our total national population numbered about 305,000,000?

If we stop and think about it, most of us have many "first car" memories that are integral to our life experiences and those of our immediate families and some of our ancestors.  There is the first car you remember your family having.  The one you all piled into to go visit your grandparents or the one you excitedly rode in on a summer Saturday night on the way to a movie at the drive-in theater.  

Then there is probably the car in which you learned to drive -- not exactly your very own car, but the one you used to earn that all-important driver's license and then begged, cajoled and schemed to use at every opportunity.  ["Do we need milk, Mom?  I don't mind going to get it for you!"]  

Many of us were lucky or spoiled enough that there also came a time when our family obtained another vehicle so that a car could be dedicated to our use only.  It was that car that we lobbied for so we could be oh so useful to the greater family -- running errands for Mom, ferrying younger siblings to school, sports, social events, etc.  In our minds it was OUR "first car."  

And eventually there came the first automobile that we actually bought and paid for on our own without any help from our parents or others.  The one we just had to have and the one that taught us the real lessons about car ownership -- that cars needed periodic repair and maintenance and that WE now had to pay for those necessities ourselves; that insurance and registration were annual costs we had to budget and plan for; and that perhaps "image" was costing us dearly and we probably should have gone for the basic transportation vehicle rather than the sporty head-turner that voraciously consumed gasoline and made insurers charge higher rates.

The car pictured at the top of this post is a 1960-61 Volkswagen Beetle.  It is not the one my family owned, which was red like the one shown below, but it is the same as KIP-108 -- the family car that  I learned to drive in and was "my car" until it passed down to my sister when I went to college and then passed down to one of my younger brothers when she went on to college. 

When my father was transferred with Sears from New Hampshire to Philadelphia, he commuted back and forth for several months until school was out for the year and the family could move to a home my parents were having built in the New Jersey suburbs.  During this time, my father left the family car (a VW "bus" that could hold four kids and a dog) in New Hampshire with my mother.  To get around during the months he lived in Philly during the week, he purchased a used 1961 VW Beetle that became affectionately known as "KIP" because the randomly assigned license plates from the state of New Jersey read "KIP-108."  KIP was a great car that served the family for at least a decade.  Three of four children learned to drive using her clutch and manual transmission.  When she was finally sold to a high schooler, she had over 200,000 miles on her and yet two years later she was still on the road serving another family.

So KIP is just one (but a very important one), of my "first car" memories.  The first date I had where I drove myself was in KIP.  Since KIP got such great gas mileage (200+ miles a tank), we actually used it on a couple of occasions to fit the entire family of six into it (one kid in the "rumble seat" behind the back seat) for a trip to the Jersey Shore at Atlantic City.  AND one of the classic and now traditional family stories that still gets told and laughed about (well it does now, but it did not at the time) involved a unique feature -- or lack of a feature -- with KIP . . . 

The 1961 VW Bug did not have air conditioning, but it had these great butterfly vent windows as seen above.  [Need more air?  Open the vent window until it grabbed the wind and pulled it into the passenger space!]  But one thing the 1961 Bug did not have was a gas gauge!

So if the '61 Bug had no gas gauge, how did you know when you needed gas?  You just waited until she told you by bucking and rattling a bit because she was being starved of fuel and then you used your right foot to push down a little lever rod down at the floor against the front wall.  When pushed down from its vertical position, the lever opened a line into a deeper well in the gas tank and after another cough or two she recovered and had another gallon of fuel available to get you to a gas station in the next 20+ miles.  Well, that was how it worked UNLESS your wife had already flipped that lever, not gone immediately to fill the tank, and then had forgotten to mention you were already running on the reserve tank as you set off from New Jersey to get your son's friend onto a plane at the Philadelphia airport to fly back to Concord, NH.  And when that happens on the ramp going up onto the bridge over the river in South Philadelphia, the look on your father's face when there is no lever to flip is . . . well it is as hard to describe here as the language that was used on that fateful day.  BUT, while KIP is gone, my parents are still married and into their 63rd glorious year of wedded bliss -- and now we all laugh heartily about KIP's little quirks and her lack of a gas gauge!  

My father bought KIP used in late 1964 or early 1965, but a new 1960-61 VW Beetle sedan cost about $1,565.  The convertible version started at about $2,055.

To learn more about the VW Beetle, or "Bug" as it was sometimes called, go here to the Wikipedia article.    
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Monday Memory (August 26, 2013) -- Rhode Island Clam Cakes!

Aunt Carrie's at Pt. Judith, Rhode Island (1930s)

I visited my parents this weekend and heard about their recent visit back to their home state of Rhode Island a couple of weeks ago.  They had a great time including a visit to Pt. Judith where many a summer has been spent.  But best of all was a meal at "Aunt Carries" a fixture of Pt. Judith since the 1920s.  Generations of our family have enjoyed trips to Pt. Judith and the regional delicacy known as "clam cakes."  Aunt Carrie's has some of the best around!

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

Photograph provided by my parents -- source unknown.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

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

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Samaritan Sunday (August 25, 2013) -- A World War II POW's Ring Comes Home 70 Years Later

[If you should choose to adopt this prompt to contribute your own 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.  ;-) ]

In the early months of 1945, the Red Cross food deliveries had essentially ceased at Stalag VII-A, Germany's largest prisoner-of- war camp located outside Moosburg, Bavaria, Germany.  Lt. David C. Cox from North Carolina was a co-pilot in a B-17 Flying Fortress that was shot down over Germany on July 28, 1943.  After initially being imprisoned in Stalag Luft III (the camp of The Great Escape fame), Lt. Cox was transferred to Moosberg in a consolidation of prisoners-of-war during the gradual collapse of the Third Reich.  By the time of liberation on April 29, 1945, there were 80,000 prisoners at Moosberg.  Food was scarce and consisted mainly of bug-infested bread and soup!  

Lt. Cox found himself flying B-17s after leaving college and enlisting following the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He applied to the Army Air Corps and was accepted on his second attempt.  In celebration of his graduation from flight school on July 26, 1942, he married his high school girlfriend, Hilda Walker. And in celebration of his graduation and commission, his parents, Irvin and Connie Bell Cox, presented him with a gold signet ring featuring a raised propeller and wings.  Inside the ring an engraving read, "Mother & Father to David C. Cox Greensboro, NC 10-4-18-42" [David's birthdate followed by the year of the gift].

Near starving and exposed to winter's cruelties on top of everything else, David Cox finally reached the point where he removed the gold signet ring his parents had given him and passed it through a fence to an Italian POW in exchange for a couple of chocolate candy bars.  It was the last David Cox ever saw of his ring.  But it was not the last that the Cox family would see of David's ring, for it is now a much-cherish family heirloom!

David Cox, Jr. is the son of Lt. David Cox and he now has his father's ring some 70 years after it was exchanged through a prison fence for the nourishment of two chocolate bars.  The ring traveled a long and circuitous route and, thanks to some Good Samaritans, it found its way back to David Cox Jr. in North Carolina.  The story and the route home began with the exchange to an Italian POW, but it also involves a Russian soldier making his way home after the war through present-day Serbia, a Hungarian family that owned a pub, a grandmother who wanted to give her grandson a good luck token that could also provide funds in an emergency, a church painter's immigration to Germany, an American seeking an air traffic controller's job at a U.S. Army airbase in Germany, and a friendly, serendipitous dinner invitation by neighbors.  Read the details of this amazing story and decide for yourself who the Good Samaritans are by going here.  And then go here to read more and see a photo of the ring.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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, August 24, 2013

Saturday Serendipity (August 24, 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 discoveries from this week that I recommend for inclusion on your reading list.

1.   Judy at The Legal Genealogist has the latest report in the very important legal dispute over Myriad Genetics' claim that they have a patent that prevents other companies from offering significantly lower prices for tests to determine the presence of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that seriously increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women.  Two companies (including the parent of Family Tree DNA) are fighting back and have filed answers in federal district court in Utah to challenge Myriad's claims.  Everyone should follow this litigation.  In my humble opinion breaking once and for all Myriad's monopoly on this gene testing is crucial to women's health.  

2.  Heather at Leaves for Trees posted a piece here  musing about the reasons for blogging and whether continuing is justified.  She posted a synopsis of the many comments she received here. Both posts and the comments are worth reading for the dialog about reasons for genealogy blogging. 

3.   Do you have any gods in your genealogy?  Apparently there have been more than a few family trees that have made such claims.  Check out Editor Lynn Betlock's Note titled "Divine Origins" in the NEHGS Weekly Genealogist newsletter for August 21.  Lynn provides some links so you can see if your tree connects to these gods too.  

4.  Speaking of gods, have you seen the recent print about the legality of using certain names for children in the U.S.?  There is of course the urban legend that Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane fame named her daughter "god" back in 1971.  And then there are the examples of naming a child Adolph Hitler, Lysterine, Dweezel or Moon Unit.  But in Tennessee one apparently cannot name a child "Messiah" -- or at least Judge Lu Ann Ballew has said so.  This is the case even though there hundreds and hundreds of "Messiahs" in the U.S. according to the Social Security Administration and enough of them to put this name it in the top 400 baby names for 2012.  Read about the naming of babies in the U.S. and some other countries here

5.   If you talked to many of your parents, grandparents or even great grandparents and asked them where they would shop to get tools, clothes and especially home appliances like washers and refrigerators, odds are they would have said something like, "Oh, we always go to Sears Roebuck for things like that."  Well, not so much anymore.  Read here about the continuing problems of what for many of our ancestors was the Walmart of yesteryear.           

6.   We are approaching 100 years since the beginning of World War I -- the war that was supposed to end all wars!  We will be reading a lot of WWI stories beginning in 2014, but you can read one now about a British man who went to France to see the spot where his great grandfather won the Victoria Cross.  Go here to read the story and see some photos including the arresting one of soldiers at Riqueval Bridge.      

7.  Do you have any idea where the oldest community of free African Americans in the U.S. (circa 1790) might have lived?  You can go here to find out and hear what is being done to research the community.  

8.   And here is an article I stumbled across from back in July 2011 that explores what could be an increasingly perplexing question about what exactly is a family tree and how do people fit into that tree these days.  For example, if a woman agrees to help her sister who cannot have children and bears a child that her sister and her sister's husband then adopt, where is the baby placed in the family tree?  In one place or two?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Fotos (August 23, 2013) -- The Parents of Elizabeth Ann Fennell

Robert Fennell (1833 -     )

Mary Jane Wood (1841 - 1891)

Robert Fennell and his wife, Mary Jane Wood Fennell, are my wife's 2nd great grandparents and therefore the 3rd great grandparents of our two sons.

Robert and Mary Jane had seven children born in Canada between 1861 and 1879.  Their fourth child and second daughter was Elizabeth Ann Fennell born December 12, 1866 in Bradford, Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada.  On September 16, 1891, Elizabeth married Herbert Beverly Jeffs who was born March 14, 1864 in West Gwilliambury, Canada.

Elizabeth Fennell and H.B. Jeffs had three children together -- all girls.  The eldest of the three girls, Eulalie Lillian Mary Jeffs (1893 - 1984) is my wife's maternal grandmother and the maternal great grandmother of our sons.

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

Photographs in the collection of the author.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

First Cars (August 22, 2013) -- My Paternal Grandfather's First Car

 Ford Model T 

My paternal grandfather's first car was the Ford Model T shown above with him behind the wheel. The photograph was taken at Roger Williams Park in Providence, Rhode Island in October 1920 while he was courting my grandmother, Huldah A. Hasselbaum.  You can just see the joy and pride of ownership on his face as he sits up there in his Model T.

The Model T was produced by Ford Motor Company from October 1908 until May 1927.  It was the car known as the "Tin Lizzie" and was seen as the first really affordable automobile (which was largely due to Ford's innovations in assembly line mass production).  The Model T was also the first car to have completely interchangeable parts.  When the last Model T was rolled out in May 1927, there had been 15 million of them produced over less than 20 years.  By 1918 half the cars on the road in the U.S. were Model Ts!

What did a Model T cost back in its day?  The standard 4-seater in 1909 cost $850, but by 1913 the price had dropped to $550 and then to $440 in 1915.  By the 1920s, the cost of a Model T had dropped to $260!  

My future grandmother sitting in the Model T of her boyfriend, Arnold G. Tew, Sr. 
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Photographs in the collection of the author.

For more information on the Model T and its history go to
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wedding Wednesday (August 21, 2013) -- A History Of Marriages

Since today is the 37th wedding anniversary for Molly and me -- and it is a Wednesday so that a Wedding Wednesday contribution is appropriate -- I thought I would recognize the occasion here by posting a history of the marriages in the Tew and Carpenter families over some eight generations. 

My parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2011 and as part of the celebration I created a slide show and included a slide and a hard-copy handout that listed the marriages of seven prior generations in each of their respective ancestral lines.  Here it is. . . 


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

Marriage history created by the author (2011). 
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

When All The Paper Is Gone, What Will We Have Lost?

I am certainly not the first to muse about and then write -- as I am doing here -- concerning the demise of writing.  But I am not talking merely about the near ubiquitous shift to verbal communication represented by the omnipresent cell phone or the streaming of video content or even the writing with electrons via email, twitter and . . . yes . . . even blogs. [1]  

I am talking about the slow loss and perhaps eventual eradication of the so-called "hard copy" record formerly represented in paper-based handwritten, typed and printed letters, notes, diaries, cards, journals, magazines, books and photographs.  The things that our parents, grandparents and ancestors back as far as most of us have been able to trace, produced as everyday items and that we can still easily access if they were preserved for us somehow.  These are the things that took some time and effort to create, but also took more than a button push to destroy.  To destroy these hard-copy documents of the lives of our ancestors required fire, shredding, the slow long-term ravages of rodents, and insects, or the degradation caused by acid and light during improper storage over a very long time.  BUT, if the paper medium was protected and preserved the content can still be accessed even centuries after the documents were created simply by picking them up and examining them.  Will this be true, however, in a few short decades (or less) as the electronic information age matures?  I wonder.

I need only hold original letters, postcards, diaries and photographs in my family collection that are many decades or sometimes more than a century old (many images of which -- thanks to the age of the computer -- have been shared here on The Prism), to realize that I have virtually no problem accessing them, analyzing and extracting the information they contain and then sharing them.  It gives me pause, however, when I realize how difficult it is for me to even access the content of the LPs, cassette tapes, eight tracks, VHS tapes and other music/video formats I have enjoyed and collected in just the last 4 -5 decades.  Soon it could be all but impossible outside tech museums to access the content in these media formats.  Will the same thing soon happen to all the electronic data we collect and assemble into our digital genealogy records?  Even if we back up our data and take extremely good care of our computer and digital hardware, will our descendants be able to access our record data in the future like we have been able to access "paper-based" media for hundreds and hundreds of years?  For example, ask yourself if all the genealogy data you had on floppy disks or zip-drives got completely, accurately and faithfully transferred onto the latest new format or media?  How much has been and will be lost to our descendants by being left in the dust of advancing technology or by falling all too easy victim to the ability to delete data with the ease and quickness of the press of a button?

While vacationing in the Adirondacks, where I was already thinking about writing this post, the "All Tech Considered" feature on NPR presented a piece on July 30th by Heidi Glenn.  The title was "In The Digital Age, The Family Photo Album Fades Away."  The article muses on the sad but increasingly apparent demise of the family album and scrapbook in this digital age; but I worry too about the complete passing of a centuries-old format -- the hard-copy, paper-based media of generations of our ancestors -- in favor of the easy and convenient (but very ephemeral) electronic formats we have all embraced and rejoiced over in this golden digital age of genealogy.  Will our descendants have the same long-term ability to access the electronic record we are creating of our lives in the same way we have been able to access the paper-based record of our ancestors?  It bears serious contemplation.

On that note, I am going to go hold and look at some paper letters, hard bound diaries and paper photographs from my ancestors while I put my original vinyl album of Sgt. Peppers on my decades old turntable.  I want to hold the records created by my ancestors in exactly the same my they did . . . as I get older, losing my hair, not too many years from now . . . !  
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Digital photo collage by the author with the assistance of a scanner, computer and the internet.

[1]  Some bloggers (Heather Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy for one) have recognized the possible loss of electronic blog content and have pro-actively taken periodic steps to save their blog content in old-fashioned paper-based format via "blog books" from such sites as Blurb.  I am convinced this is an excellent idea and an important endeavor to try to preserve our blog content and the contributions they make to the genealogy community.  I am slowly following Heather's example and trying to do just this for my infant blog.  
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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

Monday, August 19, 2013

Immortality (August 19, 2013) -- Edna Lillian (Tew) Tarr

"Immortality Lies in Being Remembered by Family and Friends." -- John D. Tew 

My paternal grandfather's older sister, Edna Lillian Tew, was born 128 years ago today.  She was eleven years older than my grandfather and was the only girl among the five children of John Andrew Tew (1853 - 1903) and his wife Margaret (Conner) Tew (1860 - 1935).  In fact, my grandfather and my grand aunt Edna were the only two of the five children who survived beyond age two!

Arnold G. Tew, Sr. and his older sister, Edna L. (Tew) Tarr circa 1956-57
 [My grandfather died in 1958, so the  Dec. 61 date on the top margin of the photo
is probably when the photo was developed.]

I remember my Aunt Edna and always enjoyed seeing her and being around her.  One of my best memories of her was when we visited her at the cottage she and her late husband, Edward Clifford Tarr, had on Prudence Island in the Narragansett Bay.  [Her grandson, my cousin, still owns that cottage, which has been in the Tarr family for more than 100 years now!  And as this is written my cousin and his wife are being visited on Prudence by my father's sister, my Aunt Priscilla.]

Edna passed away three days after Christmas in 1969 when I was a senior in high school.  In fond and lasting recollection of my Aunt Edna, I present photos of her and will raise a glass in her memory this evening!

Edna Lillian Tew, approximately two years old 

Edna L. Tew, age 6

Edna in 1902, age 17
Edna in her twenties -- probably around the time of her wedding to Edward C. Tarr when she was 24 years old
My Aunt Edna on the porch of her cottage on Prudence Island

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

All photos -- many of which were contributed as scanned copies by the grandson of Edna Lillian (Tew) Tarr -- are in the collection of the author.  Thank you Bruce!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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