Saturday, September 7, 2013

Saturday Serendipity (September 7, 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.

A big week this time so there are more than the usual number of discoveries and recommendations for inclusion on your reading list.

1.  A week or so ago I posted about the length of marriages in eight generations of both my mother's and my father's families.  While there have been three marriages of 60 years or more (including my parents who are still going strong in their 63rd year), those marriages have nothing on the couple declared the longest married couple in the U.S.  See the picture of the record holders and find out how long they have been married by going here.  

2.  In what is probably a shameless act of advertising and self promotion, I want to recommend as an addition to your reading list for this weekend the post scheduled for tomorrow's Samaritan Sunday series here at The Prism.  The kind act of one person leads inadvertently to temptation, but ultimately to the opportunity to become a Good Samaritan and then to reconnection with a family not seen in over a decade and a reward that  . . . well, you really want to read Samaritan Sunday tomorrow!  

3.  Inside a vault in the State House in Boston sat an old safe dating back to the 1800s.  The combination was long lost and no one could remember when it had last been opened.  This summer the State Treasurer decided to find out and so Steven Grossman hired two expert safecrackers to open the long sealed safe.  Curious?  Go here to find out what they found. 

4.   So, you think you have seen some interesting and perhaps unusual headstones in cemeteries you have visited?  You have not seen anything yet unless you have already been to Hope Cemetery in Barre, Vermont -- or looked at Heather Rojo's September 3rd post at Nutfield Genealogy.  Travel here to see headstones in a cemetery that might almost be taken for a final resting place devoted to the interesting, unusual, creative, artistic and just plain weird headstone!

5.    Midge Frazel at Granite in My Blood posted photos this week of three years in her new home in Stow and she muses about the meaning of the "Grandparents House" here.  But why did Midge's house look so eerily familiar to me?  Well . . .  here is the home my parents, my sister and I lived in on Glen Street in Holyoke, MA in the early 1950s.  The photo was taken during a 2005 trip back to New England with my parents to visit and photograph all the homes we had lived in since 1952.  Look at this house and then go see the 2010 shot of Midge's new home.


6.   One of the blogs I follow faithfully in the hope I might eventually come across an item that connects to one of my ancestors or relatives is Pam Beveridge's Heirlooms Reunited.  The breadth and depth of Pam's collection of artifacts is impressive enough, but when you see the time and effort she puts into displaying her finds and trying to research the provenance and subjects of the items, it is truly astounding.  As she states, many of her items are available for purchase, but this is obviously an act of love on her part.  If you like to see and learn about old things, you owe yourself some time browsing through Heirlooms Reunited!  You might even come across someone or something you know.

7.  I stumbled across a reference to this book on a political blog I visit from time to time.  

I think Pricing the Priceless Child might be added to my reading pile as soon as I finish the three books ahead of it.  See if the book title and descriptions that follow don't pique your interest too.

The mention on Andrew Sullivan's blog, The Dish, states that sociologist and author Viviana A. Zelizer reveals that in Europe in the 18th century, "the death of an infant or a young child was a minor event, met with a mixture of indifference and resignation." Zelizer quotes a French philosopher of the time who wrote, "I have lost two or three children in infancy, not without regret, but without great sorrow." 

The review at Amazon further describes how Zelizer, "traces the emergence of the modern child, at once economically 'useless' and emotionally 'priceless,' from the late 1800s to the 1930s. Having established laws removing many children from the marketplace, turn-of-the-century America was discovering new, sentimental criteria to determine a child's monetary worth. The heightened emotional status of children resulted, for example, in the legal justification of children's life insurance policies and in large damages awarded by courts to their parents in the event of death. A vivid account of changing attitudes toward children, this book dramatically illustrates the limits of economic views of life that ignore the pervasive role of social, cultural, emotional, and moral factors in our marketplace world."  

Many of us are shocked to find in our genealogy research that before the advent of the so-called antibiotic "miracle drugs," our ancestors lost a frightening number of infants and young children.  We cannot help wondering just how they could have dealt with and survived that kind of loss.  Perhaps Ms Zelizer offers us a clue.

8.  The always thoughtful and well-written posts by Diane MacLean Boumenot at One Rhode Island Family include some thoughts this week on how to use eBay as a tool in your genealogy research kit.

9.  If you are one of the estimated 35 million descendants of Mayflower passengers, yesterday was a BIG day in your genealogy.  Read about it here at the Writer's Almanac from September 6, 2013.

10.  The last person to have seen Adolph Hitler alive was one of his bodyguards, Rochus Misch.  Misch was present in the last days and hours in the bunker.  Rochus Misch died in Berlin this week at age 96.  A summary of his background and his recollections of the last days in the bunker can be read here. 

11.  If you are really mesmerized and fascinated by old photographs of people, then you really must spend some time browsing at The Forgotten Photographs Project .  The website was mentioned at UpFront with NGS.  It posts portrait photographs of people from the 19th and early 20th centuries with name identification, the place where the photo was taken and the location where the photograph was obtained.  The photos are arranged alphabetically by surname.  Check it out.  You never know if you might find a missing photo of an ancestor or relative!    
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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


  1. Good grief, John! I'm feeling quite validated right now, thanks! My favorite part of this is bringing hardscrabble folks to life, folks who might otherwise have slipped away without a trace, their sacrifices unheralded. They all matter.

  2. Thanks for the mention, John. I guess you never know where new records will turn up; I've bought books on EBay but was very surprised to find an actual historic document signed by my direct ancestor.

  3. Thanks for mentioning my blog post about Hope Cemetery in Barre, Vermont. The artisans who worked for granite monument companies such as "Rock of Ages" and others, competed amongst themselves to create their own gravestones, thus this community has the biggest collection of grandiose and elaborate memorials. I hope you get to check it out yourself sometime.