Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday Serendipity -- March 30, 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.   Having worked with a new-found 4th cousin to track down a lost family Bible after more than 80 years, I can really understand how having a family bible more than 300 years old returned after being stolen would restore some faith in fellow man.  Read about Tim Shier's story here and how he retrieved this family treasure.  The link was found at Upfront Mini Bytes on Upfront With NGS.   [AND if you have Swedish ancestors, be sure to check out the news on available datbases and articles on Swedish research on Arkivdigital.]

2.  Always a good source for interesting reads related to genealogy and history, The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS has an interesting link to a New York Times article on California in the Civil War

3.   Molly and I just returned today from a week in Switzerland -- a wonderful trip during her school Spring Break, but there was no spring to be found in Switzerland this past week (only rain, snow and winter temperatures).  We were there for "Karfreitag" or Good Friday and found that most of the non-tourist activities and shops in the country are "geschlossen" (closed) during this Good Friday/Easter weekend.  I found Heather's link at Leaves for Trees to German Easter ("Ostern") traditions on ABT UNK to be an interesting read since we were in the German speaking cities of Zurich, Luzerne and Bern this past week and Ostern preparation was everywhere -- including this photo we took in Zurich of choral practice at St. Peter's Kirche, a cathedral going back to about the year 1000.

Practicing the Hallelujah Chorus for Ostern at St. Peter's Kirche in Zurich.
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fearless Females -- Mary Abigail Fillmore

Mary Abigail Fillmore
Today is the 181st anniversary of the birth of the only daughter of President Millard Fillmore.  She was born in Buffalo, New York on March 27, 1832.  She lived a short life, but for a woman of her time she lived a very full life in her 22 years.

Mary graduated from the New York State Normal School [1] and was a teacher for a time at a private school in Lenox, Massachusetts.  She later taught briefly in the public school system of Buffalo, New York up until her father succeeded to the Presidency in 1850.  

Campus of the New York State Normal School (1909)
Mary spoke French fluently and was conversant in Spanish, German and Italian, which must have been quite useful when her father became President and her mother became ill and could not function as hostess at White House social events.  Mary became White House Hostess from 1850 to 1853 during her mother's health difficulties.  Mary was also a musician who played the piano, harp and guitar.  She often performed at White House functions.

Sadly, Mary died suddenly of cholera at age 22 barely a year after the death of her mother.  Her mother, Abigail (Powers) Fillmore,  died 160 years ago this week on March 30, 1853 in Washington, DC.  Abigail died just twenty-six days after she and Millard left the White House following the inauguration of Fillmore's successor, Franklin Pierce.  Abigail died at the Willard Hotel in Washington following an illness she first suffered after the outdoor inauguration of Pierce and that later developed into pneumonia.

Mary Abigail Fillmore is my 5th cousin 4X removed. 

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[1]  The New York State Normal School is today known as The University at Albany, State University of New York.  It is now the oldest university campus in the SUNY system having been established in 1844.  A "Normal School" was a school that was developed in order to establish standards or "norms" for teaching -- thus the designation "Normal School."  The first publicly funded Normal School in the United States was founded in Massachusetts in 1839.  It is now known as Framingham State University.  Almost all the former "Normal Schools" later became known as teachers' colleges and by the 1960s most had become universities or were absorbed by established universities.  See, for more information on Normal Schools.

Bust photograph of Mary Abigail Fillmore posted at Find-A-Grave by Garver Graver

Photograph of Mary Fillmore in gown from the Buffalo Architecture and History website page on the Millard and Abigail Fillmore House Museum 

Photograph of the New York State Normal School campus is part of the collection of the Library of Congress.  The image is in the public domain. 
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Fotos -- Have You Ever Seen One Of These?

This little item arrived in the mail yesterday from my very kind and generous Aunt Priscilla.  This bit of consumer history belonged to my paternal grandmother, Huldah (Hasselbaum) Tew.  The particular item shown here probably dates from the 1950s because my grandmother lived in North Scituate, Rhode Island during the latter part of that decade.

Most of us today are very familiar (some all too familiar) with the modern credit card in all its vanity pictured, logo encrusted glory.  The little gem pictured above is an early ancestor of the plastic marvel that probably inhabits your wallet or purse and comes out for regular exercise in stores and, increasingly, on-line.

The earliest "credit cards" were actually known as "charge cards" and they developed in the U.S. during the 1920s as a means of marketing gasoline and other car products to the rapidly growing number of consumers who owned automobiles.  By the late 1930s, following the early lead of Western Union,  several well-known and established companies began issuing charge cards to their loyal frequent buyers.  It did not take long before groups of merchants saw the benefits of leveraging charge card customers by agreeing to accept one another's cards.  The cards themselves were often printed on paper card stock much like a business card -- but a serious disadvantage of such cards was their lack of durability with frequent use . . .  not to mention the ease of counterfeiting them.  

Enter the Charga-Plate beginning around 1928.  The Charga-Plate "token," with its protective scabbard, is what is pictured above.  It was made of stamped sheet metal and looked like the first cousin of the military "dog tag."  The front was embossed with the name and address of the authorized consumer and the back held a paper signature card.  When a purchase was made, the metal card was placed into the recess of an imprinter and a "charge slip" was placed on top.  A record of the purchase was created by the imprinter running a ribbon with ink over the charge slip pressed against the embossed consumer information on the card.  Many of us will remember the use of plastic credit cards in a similar way before electronic readers and magnetic data strips on the back of more modern credits cards in use today. 

The "Charga-Plate" was a trademark of the Farrington Manufacturing Company.  As Wikipedia states in its entry titled "Credit card". . .  

Charga-Plates were issued by large-scale merchants to their regular customers, much like           department store credit cards of today. In some cases, the plates were kept in the issuing store rather than held by customers. When an authorized user made a purchase, a clerk retrieved the plate from the store's files and then processed the purchase. Charga-Plates speeded back-office bookkeeping that was done manually in paper ledgers in each store, before computers.  

The Charga-Card depicted above is a "Providence Charga-Plate," as stated on the plate's scabbard.  It was issued in my grandmother's name as can be seen above.  You can also notice the arrow on the right side of the plate face indicating the direction it should be inserted into the imprinter.  If you look very closely, you will also see three notches in the border of the plate face.  Two of the notches are very small, but different sized, rectangles.  The third is a semi-circle shape.  My aunt informs me that the notches were placed there by the stores that accepted the card.   

The back side of the plate is pictured below.  It contains my grandmother's unsigned paper signature card secured inside the plate frame.  The text on the cards reads as follows: 

                             Use your Charga-Plate for Better Service

                                       Sign your name here in ink

Between the two rectangular notches and etched into the metal frame are the words "A Farrington PRODUCT."  Etched into the metal frame at the top is "CHARGA-PLATE CREDIT TOKEN" with the trademark registration symbol.

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Photographs by the author

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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Immortality -- Mildred Louise (Tarr) Marquardt

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

Mildre Louise Tarr

Mildred with her mother Edna (Tew) Tarr

Mildred Tarr

Mildred (left) with her mother Edna

Mildred L. (Tarr) Marquardt -- circa 1960
Mildred Louise Tarr is my 1st cousin 1x removed.  She was the daughter of my Grand Aunt, Edna Lillian (Tew) Tarr and her husband, Edward Clifford Tarr.  Mildred was born in N. Attleboro, Massachusetts on March 19, 1911 -- One Hundred Two (102) years ago today!  She grew up in Wallingford, Connecticut and she married Randall Oddy Marquardt there on June 11, 1938.  Mildred died in Wallingford at age 93 on June 9, 2004.  Mildred had one son, four grandchildren and now several great grandchildren.

Tonight we raise a glass in celebration and memory of Mildred!
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Photographs in the collection of the author courtesy of Mildred's son, Bruce, my 2nd cousin.
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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Monday, March 18, 2013

Military Monday -- Arnold G. Tew, Jr.

Arnold G. Tew, Jr. at Kings Point 
Arnold G. Tew, Jr. with his parents, Arnold G. Tew, Sr. and Huldah Tew, at his graduation
from Kings Point, the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Great Neck, New York.

Arnold G. Tew, Jr.
My father grew up in Cranston and Woonsocket, Rhode Island and later lived for a time in Wallingford, Connecticut with his Aunt Edna (Tew) Tarr and his Uncle Clifford Tarr.

Just nine days before the attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent entry of the United States into World War II, my father turned nineteen years old.  In March 1944 he graduated from Kings Point, the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Great Neck, New York.  Almost immediately he was at sea supporting the war effort by moving tons of cargo in supply convoys to Europe and other locations.  He served with the Merchant Marine until October 1952.

While my father was at Kings Point, cadets also spent about six months at sea before graduation.  In 1942, his class was split alphabetically for their cadet sea service and training either in the Atlantic or the Pacific. Those whose last names were toward the end of the alphabet, like my father's, drew cadet service in the Pacific.  My father has said many times that he thinks he is alive only because he drew service in the Pacific. 

In the Atlantic, the so-called "Battle of the Atlantic" raged from 1939 until Germany was defeated in 1945 -- and the battle reached its greatest intensity during the period from mid-1940 through the end of 1943.  It included the period of my father's cadet service in the Pacific.

The Battle of the Atlantic has been called the longest continuous military campaign of World War II and as Winston Churchill later stated, "The Battle of the Atlantic was the dominating factor all through the war. Never for one moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere, on land, at sea or in the air depended ultimately on its outcome."  During this period, the Allied naval forces attempted a blockade of Germany while at the same time the merchant ships were doing their utmost to move cargo across the Atlantic to keep military forces supplied with weapons and other materials needed to sustain Allied efforts.  Germany responded to the blockade and to the supply efforts with a concerted and continuous attack against Allied naval and merchant ships.  They used U-boats (submarines), surface vessels and Luftwaffe aircraft.  From 1942 onward, German forces were especially directed at preventing a build-up of equipment and supplies that would support any Allied attempt to invade mainland Europe.  While ultimately the blockade of Germany failed, the Allies were able to win the "war of tonnage" by keeping Allied forces supplied with what was needed to bring the war to Germany and the Axis powers.

Few people realize the terrible cost of winning the tonnage supply battle that raged in the Atlantic.  There were 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships lost during the Battle of the Atlantic, while Germany suffered a loss of 783 U-boats.  Some 3.1 million tons of merchant ships were lost during World War II and 1 in 24 merchant mariners died -- making the fatality rate of the Merchant Marines the highest casualty rate of any service during the war!  My father served on merchant ships in all the recognized theaters of war during WWII beginning with his cadet service in November 1942 (when he was 20 years old) through VJ Day in August 1945.  Most of his service was as either 2nd or 3rd Mate on the merchant ships Mishmaha, Vernon L. Parrington, Samuel Ashe and Sea Phoenix.

My father survived the war and continued service with the Merchant Marine until Fall 1952.  He ultimately gained his Master Mariner papers, which allowed him to take any size ship anywhere in the world.  My father is 90 years old now and a proud member of what has been called, "The Greatest Generation!" 

My father holding his WWII Merchant Marine Service medals.
[The ring on his hand is his Kings Point Class ring.]

WWII Honor Roll in Wallingford, Connecticut outside the former Lyman Hall school
Close-up of the Wallingford, Connecticut WWII Honor Roll
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All photos from the collection of the author.

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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Both my family and my wife's family have Irish roots, but my wife's are broader and deeper.  So far as I know, my Irish ancestors come exclusively through my great grandmother, Margaret "Maggie" (Conner) Tew.  Her mother and father came to America about 1851 and both of them were from Roscommon County, Ireland.  My wife's family on both her father's and her mother's side go back to Ireland.  My wife's O'Kane ancestors come from County Derry/Londonderry and the area around Dungiven.  The principal Irish surnames in the tree of our sons thus include:  Conner, Kelley, O'Kane, Jeffs, Hayes and Collins.

In 2009 my wife and I spent three weeks in Ireland and did a complete circumnavigation of the island.  Here are several photographs taken during that wonderful trip.  Based on our experience, the Irish people are truly among the friendliest in the world and Ireland is amongst the most beautiful countries!

These prehistoric mound monuments at New Grange in the Boyne Valley
were built around 3200 BC -- making them older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids
One of the Skellig islands off Valentia, County Kerry.
The white is not snow -- it is tens of thousands of  seabirds
The harvesting of peat in the Whitlow Mountains

Coffee house on Valentia Island

Fuchsia lined walk overlooking a valley in County Kerry

Mizen Head, the most southwesterly point of Ireland

Kinvara, Ireland across Galway Bay from the City of Galway

A "beehive house" -- some of the oldest structures in Ireland (2000 BC)

Rainbow over Dublin on our last day in Ireland!

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All photographs by the author (June - July, 2009).  All rights reserved.  No reproduction or use of these photographs is allowed without the permission of the photographer/author.
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday Serendipity -- March 16, 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.   Diane Richard at  Upfront With NGS provides a link to Family History Daily and a February 28th  post by Vi Parsons for a reminder about the usefulness and limitations of family Bibles in genealogy research. 

2.  Do you know anyone who collects reasons to be concerned about privacy and social media such as Facebook?  Read Judy Russell's March 13th piece about privacy on Facebook at The Legal Genealogist -- and then you can pass it on to folks to add to their collection. 

3.  BUT, every coin has two sides, so for a story about the positive power of social media and Facebook, read a piece from The Daily Beast highlighted this week by NEHGS's The Weekly Genealogist -- "An Auschwitz Survivor Searches for His Twin on Facebook." 

4.  And The Weekly Genealogist scores another hit with its link to a very interesting story about a twenty-something amateur genealogist who not only extends the earliest known instance of the word "scalawag," but does so by finding it linked to one of his New York ancestors!  Check out "The Original Scalawag" by Ben Zimmer from the March 10th Boston Globe.

5.  While many of us know how thrilling it is to discover an artifact or story associated with a distant ancestor, how many have had the extraordinary thrill experienced by Jana Last?  Jana reports on finding the signature of her 4x great grandfather at Jana's Genealogy and Family History Blog on March 12th.  But what is so super cool about this particular signature is . . . well, you really have to go here and have Jana herself tell you (and show you) all about it! 

6.  Making cousin connections is one of the great benefits of genealogy blogging (as I found out and reported on February 11th here at The Prism -- Finding A Cousin -- Kismet, Karma, Fate or Simple Serendipity Made Possible By The New Golden Age of Genealogy?), but read about the connection Diane MacLean Boumenot made with a fifth cousin and the information and photographs that came her way as a result.  "Old Kilmorack Cemetery" posted March 11th on Diane's One Rhode Island Family is worth a read and a look.

7.   And last, but not least by any means, is a moving tribute by a grandson to his grandmother during this National Women's History Month.  On March 8th at West in New England,  Bill West reprises his very first blog post from over six years ago -- February, 2007.  Meet and see Agnes McFarland, a truly "Fearless Female," in Bill's piece titled simply and lovingly, AGGIE.  [Oh . . . and you might want to briefly read about "St. Vitus Dance" here.  I learned about something in addition to the bravery and determination of a young Irish-American woman thanks to Bill.]      
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Fotos -- March 15, 2013

Margaret "Maggie" Conner (1860 - 1935)
Maggie (Conner) Tew
Edward Clifford Tarr (1884 - 1948)

Edward Clifford Tarr and his wife, Edna Lillian (Tew) Tarr

My great grandmother, Margaret (Conner) Tew was born on March 6, 1860 in Dedham, Massachusetts.  Both her parents were born in Roscommon County, Ireland. She married John Andrew Tew in Coventry, Rhode Island on August 27, 1882 at age 22. "Maggie" as she was known, must have been a very tough and resilient lady for her life was not easy. She lost three of her five children and her husband all within the space of five years (1888 - 1903). Her husband and her youngest child died within months of one another. [See, "Immortality Lies in Being Remembered by Family and Friends" re: John Andrew Tew posted here January 27, 2013.] Maggie's only daughter was Edna Lillian Tew, born in 1885. Edna is pictured immediately above with her husband, "Cliff" Tarr. Edna is my Grand Aunt, the older sister of my grandfather, Arnold G. Tew.

Clifford Tarr was a master engraver.  He was born on February 10, 1884 in Providence, Rhode Island. He married Edna in Providence on June 1, 1910. Their daughter and only child, Mildred, was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts and later the family moved to Wallingford, Connecticut. Clifford died in Meriden, Connecticut on March 6, 1948. This must have been doubly difficult on my Grand Aunt Edna because this meant her husband died on her mother's birthday!

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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fearless Females -- Nineteen Who Joined "The Call"

Last month was Black History Month in the U.S. and Canada (the UK also celebrates it, but in October).  This month is National Women's History Month.  Here are 19 Fearless Women who are worthy of noting and remembering every March AND February:

     Miss Jane Addams of Chicago                                     Mrs. Ida Wells-Barnett of Chicago
     Mrs. Harriet Stanton Blatch of New York                   Miss Kate Claghorn of New York
     Miss Mary E. Dreier of Brooklyn                                Mrs. Florence Kelley of New York
     Miss Helen Marot of New York                                  Miss Mary E. McDowell of Chicago
     Miss Lenora O'Reilly of New York                            Miss Mary W. Ovington of New York
     Dr. Jane Robbins of New York                                  Miss Helen Stokes of New York
     Mrs. Mary Church Terrell of Washington, DC           Mrs. Henry Villard of New York
     Miss Lillian D. Wald of New York                             Mrs. Rodman Wharton of Philadelphia
     President Mary E. Wooley, Mt. Holyoke College       Miss Susan P. Wharton of Philadelphia    
     Mrs. Anna Carpenter Garlin Spencer of New York

So who are these 19 women and why do I use the antiquated Miss and Mrs. distinctions throughout?  Well, that was the formal convention back in 1909 when these brave and principled women stepped up and joined "The Call."

Fannie Garrison Villard -- "Mrs. Henry Villard"
(1844 - 1928)
Daughter of publisher and noted abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison 

Jane Addams (1860 - 1935)
First American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

Mary Church Terrell (1863 - 1954)
Daughter of slaves she was one of the first African-American
women to earn a college degree 

1909 was a time in America when women still did not have full voting rights.  It was a place where Jim Crow laws were rampant throughout many states in the country and where the civil rights of black Americans were violated in horrible ways with very little official intervention.  Black Americans were beaten, tortured and lynched for the most minor of infractions and often for no reason other than being non-white.  Just five to seven years later, white mobs in largely Southern states lynched 126 black Americans.  It was not an easy time to be a progressive who defended and worked for the civil rights of  Americans who happened to be other than male or other than white.  As the 100th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln approached on February 12, 1909, it was not a time when there were many profiles in courage involving the political and civil equality of Americans who happened to be other than male or other than white.  And yet in early 1909 the nineteen women named above joined with forty-one men to do a remarkable thing.  They signed a manifesto that came to be known later as "The Call."

Oswald Garrison Villard wrote what he titled a "Call for the Lincoln Emancipation Conference in 1909." Sixty well-known Americans (black and white) -- including the nineteen women named above -- signed Mr. Villard's manifesto.  The manifesto stated truthfully and plainly the lack of progress in America since the time of Lincoln.  It stated in part . . .

If Mr. Lincoln could revisit this country he would be disheartened by the nation's failure . . . He would learn that on January 1st 1909, Georgia had rounded out a new oligarchy by disenfranchising the negro after the manner of all the other Southern states.  He would learn that the Supreme Court of the United States, designed to be a bulwark of American liberties, had failed to meet several opportunities to pass squarely upon this disenfranchisement of millions by laws avowedly discriminatory and openly enforced in such manner that white men may vote and black men be without a vote in their government; he would discover, there, that taxation without representation is the lot of millions of wealth-producing American citizens, in whose hands rests the economic progress and welfare of an entire section of the country.  He would learn that the Supreme Court, according to the official statement of its own judges in the Berea College case, has laid down the principle that if an individual State chooses it may "make it a crime for white and colored persons to frequent the same market place at the same time, or appear in an assemblage of citizens convened to consider questions of a public or political nature in which all citizens, without regard to race, are equally interested." . . . He would see the black men and women, for whose freedom a hundred thousand of soldiers gave their lives, sit apart in trains, in which they pay first-class for third-class service, in railway stations and in places of entertainment, while State after State declines to do its elementary duty in preparing the negro through education for the best exercise of citizenship. * * * Added to this, the spread of lawless attacks upon the negro, North, South and West -- even in Springfield made famous by Lincoln -- often accompanied by revolting brutalities, sparing neither sex, nor age nor youth, could not but shock the author of the sentiment that "government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." Silence under these conditions means tacit approval.

The nineteen women named above -- who themselves still lacked the right to vote -- were joined by forty-one men and they did not remain silent.  They put out The Call saying, ". . . we call upon all the believers in democracy to join in a national conference for the discussion of present evils, the voicing of protests, and the renewal of the struggle for civil and political liberty."  The conference took place and from that meeting a new organization was founded.  It was called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  

The nineteen fearless women named above were instrumental in encouraging the formation of the NAACP in 1909; among them was Anna Carpenter Garlin Spencer.  More will be said about Anna at this blog on April 17th.

Anna Carpenter (Garlin) Spencer (1851 - 1931)
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Photograph of quote by Jane Addams in The American Adventure in the World Showcase pavilion of Walt Disney World's Epcot by Neelix.  The copyright holder released the work into the public domain. 

Photograph of  Fannie Garrison Villard (1913) was taken before 1923 and is now in the public domain in the United States.  

Photograph of Jane Addams in profile is in the public domain in the United States and is available from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division.

Photograph of Mary Church Terrell is based on the work of a National Park Service employee created as part of the person's official duties and as such is in the public domain.

Photograph of Anna Carpenter (Garlin) Spencer from the Anna Garlin Spencer Papers (DG 034), Swarthmore College Peace Collection. 
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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Monday, March 11, 2013

Military Monday -- The O'Kane Brothers in Uniform

(Lto R)  Edward O'Kane, Nora (Hayes) O'Kane, Daniel J. O'Kane, Jr.

This is a photograph taken circa 1942 at the O'Kane family home -- 43 Baker Hill Rd., Great Neck, New York.  It is a picture of my wife's paternal grandmother, Nora C. (Hayes) O'Kane, standing quite proudly between her uniformed sons on the front porch of their home.  Nora was undoubtedly proud of her sons, but like many mothers of young men during World War II, she also surely harbored some hidden fears about what might happen to her children.

Nora (1893 - 1981) has her son Edward (1921 - 2002) to her right in his Navy uniform.  To her left is the oldest of her six children, Daniel J. O'Kane, Jr. (1919 - 2007) in his Army uniform.  Dan is my wife's father. Thankfully, both men survived the war.  Ed graduated from the University of Notre Dame and Dan graduated from Cornell University.

(L to R)  Thomas O'Kane and Edward O'Kane, brothers.

A third O'Kane brother is pictured here on a different day at the same location.  Ed O'Kane is now in his Navy "whites" with his younger brother, Thomas O'Kane (1922 - 2008) beside him in his Army Air Forces uniform.  Tom served from 1942 until his discharge in 1946.  He was a graduate of New York University.  The fourth O'Kane brother, Raymond O'Kane, was born in 1925.  I do not know if he served in the military during WWII; but in any event, I do not have a photo of him in uniform.  Three of Nora (Hayes) O'Kane's four sons definitely served during World War II.
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Immortality -- Nora C. (Hayes) O'Kane

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

Nora C. (Hayes) O'Kane

My wife's maternal grandmother, Nora C. Hayes (known as "Nonie"), was born in Astoria, New York on September 1, 1893.  She died on March 10, 1981 (thirty-two years ago today) at age 87.

Nora was one of the six children (all girls) of Thomas Hayes and his wife, Margaret Collins.  Both her parents and her two oldest sisters were born in Ireland.  Nora was the fifth of the six daughters.  Nora's father Thomas died young and before Nora was seven years old.  She and her sisters were raised by their mother Margaret, who never remarried. 

Nora married Daniel J. O'Kane in about 1918.  They lived for a time in Jackson Heights, New York before moving with their young family to Baker Hill Road in Great Neck, New York.  Dan and Nora had six children:  four boys and two girls.

Nora (Hayes) O'Kane with 11 of her grandchildren
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saturday Serendipity -- March 9, 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.  I did a two-part posting this week titled Discovery and Remembrance.  For reasons related to the ultimate subject of the piece, I noted that yesterday, March 8, 2013, was the 139th anniversary of the death of President Millard Fillmore.  President Fillmore is one of our least known and usually lesser regarded Presidents.  He is often the butt of jokes and is consistently ranked in the bottom ten of our chief executives.  I had reason to want to read and learn more about Millard Fillmore and found out much about a man who was born in a log cabin, built himself up from nothing, became a lawyer by reading the law, formed his own law firm, served in the state legislature and then in Congress, battled entrenched political machines, was immersed in the founding of a new political party, and found himself in a position where he had to try to find a way to hold the Union together.  Sound familiar to anyone?  For history buffs out there I recommend for your edification and reading pleasure what is perhaps the only full, serious, and scholarly biography of Fillmore -- Millard Fillmore: Biography of a President by Robert J. Rayback (Newtown, CT, American Political Biography Press, 2009 printing). 

2.  The Weekly Genealogist by NEHGS scores again with a nice gem.  For those of you who happily grew up in, or dumbstrickenly observed, the 1970s . . . here is a 30-photo album of stunning color photographs in Project DOCUMERICA (1971-1977) created by the EPA during the time of America's modern environmental awakening.  The National Archives brings us "Searching for the Seventies."   

3.  200,000 Surnames Now Extinct!?  Who knew?  Well Upfront with NGS provided an alert and link to the story here  No more Funks and the Chips are down while no one can find any Hatmans!

4.  We have probably all used Census data to discover information about our ancestors and relatives, but how about using the Census to research the history of a house (or in the case of this interesting post "houses")?  Janine Adams at Organize your Family has a very engaging account of the history of the house where she and her husband live.

5.  And there is another fun and informative read from Judy G. Russell at The Legal Genealogist.  Sue Grafton will be surprised to learn that "H" is [not] for Homicide.  Judy does a nice riff on the letter "H" and informs us that "H is for Henry."

6.   Diane McLean Boumenot at One Rhode Island Family provides a great service for those of us with early roots in Rhode Island.  But on second thought, isn't EVERYONE really interested in Little Rhody??  In her March 8th post Diane provides thumbnail excerpts from the ten volumes of "Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in New England" along with links where the materials in the volumes can be viewed and downloaded.  Thank you Diane!!
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Fotos (March 8, 2013) -- One Hundred Thirty-nine Years Ago Today!

Millard Fillmore --13th President of the United States

It was 139 years ago today that Millard Fillmore, 13th President of the United States, died in Buffalo, New York.  The former President was 74 years, 60 days old when he died on March 8, 1874.  He lived 21 years and four days after the completion of his Presidency.

Almost exactly two months before his death, Fillmore was reported to have said, " . . . My health is perfect, I eat, drink and sleep as well as ever, and take deep but silent interest in public affairs, and if Mrs. F's health can be restored, I should feel that I was in the enjoyment of an earthly paradise." [1]  While he was shaving the morning of February 13, 1874, Fillmore suddenly lost the use of his left hand and the paralysis moved to the left side of his face.  About fourteen days later he experienced another such incident and on March 8th his condition proved fatal.

Millard Fillmore was the Vice President of the United States under President Zachary Taylor. When Taylor died suddenly in office of a coronary thrombosis on July 9, 1850, Millard Fillmore became President.  Taylor served only 1 year, 126 days of his term.  Fillmore completed the term begun by Zachary Taylor, but was then denied the nomination of the Whig party in the 1852 election and did not win election and serve a full term in his own right.  At the time, he was the second President who served only the unexpired term of his predecessor.  He was the last of four Presidents who were Whigs.  

In the 1856 election, Fillmore was nominated as candidate for President by the American ("Know-Nothing") Party.  He ran against John C. Fremont (candidate of both the Republican Party and an antislavery minority group of the American Party) and James Buchanan (candidate of the Democratic Party).  Buchanan won the election with 174 electoral votes and 19 states to Fremont's 114 electoral votes and 11 states and Fillmore's 8 electoral votes and 1 state (Maryland).  BUT, Fillmore's strength in the border states and the deep south (where he won 44% of the total vote compared to Fremont's 1,192 votes in the region -- just shy of a mere 1/10 of 1%), meant that if a combined total of less than 8,000 votes had switched to Fillmore in Kentucky, Tennessee and Louisiana, the election would have been thrown into the House of Representatives -- where no party controlled a majority of the states!  In any event, this defeat marked the end of Millard Fillmore's elective political career. 

Raise a glass this evening in celebration and remembrance of "cousin Millard!"  [See, Discovery and Remembrance Parts 1 and 2 below.]
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Photo of Millard Fillmore (precise date unknown) is in the public domain because any copyright has expired.  Its first publication was prior to January 1, 1923.  The photograph is from a Daguerreotype dated 1855 circa 5 years

[1]  Fillmore to Corcoran, January 7, 1874, among Fillmore Manuscripts in the collection of the Buffalo Historical Society and cited to in Robert J. Rayback, Millard Fillmore -- Biography of a President (Newtown, Connecticut, American Political Biography Press, 2009) at 444.
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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