Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (June 21, 2014)

Here are a few recommendations for possible inclusion on your reading list this weekend:  

1.  Two selections from our Legal Genealogist are definitely worthy of a read.  Judy Russell walks us through searching for possible copyright-free images on Google and Bing here.  And then, from last week, there is the short-sighted foolishness of and the 27 comments it engendered in Judy's post, Ancestry responds.  
2.  Have you ever heard of Boston's Saturday Evening Girls? [And NO the term is not yet another euphemism akin to "ladies of the night."]  The sobriquet was adopted by a group of Italian and Jewish immigrant girls in Boston's North End who were initially formed into a reading club in the 1890s. Their story included the founding of a pottery company, a newsletter and more.  Perhaps your family has some connection to this group of enterprising young women.  To learn more, read the piece in The Weekly Genealogist ,Vol. 17, No. 25 Whole 692, from NEHGS.    

3.  If you are reading this, then you are a reader of genealogy-related blogs and you should know about a poll being conducted by NGS's UpFront With NGS blog.   NGS would like to know what type of blog posts you read and that interest you the most.  Read the poll post here and then you can respond by posting a comment there or on Face Book or Google+.

4.  Thank you to Midge Frazel of Granite in My Blood blog for calling to our attention the new web site presenting the Rhode Island cemetery transcription database with resources about locating, photographing and recording gravestones!  As noted here in previous entries, if you have ancestors and relatives from Rhode Island, you should visit Midge's blog and her series on Rhode Island cemeteries.

5.  Here is a wonderfully readable explanation about a "Eureka Moment" experienced by Elizabeth Handler, author of the From Maine to Kentucky blog.  Elizabeth explains what a "non-paternity event" means and how the existence of one was discovered in her tree through the use of a Y-DNA test.  

6.  Genealogy is, of course, the study of one's line of descent through numerous ancestors.  But it is not merely a collection of names and dates placed into a continuous chain of interconnected links. It is about history at its most personal level -- and, as an echo of the title of the popular genealogy show,  Who Do You Think You Are?, it is about the more complete discovery of Who Am I?  With this in mind, I highly recommend a fascinating discovery piece in the NYT on June 10th about a Prince of the Catholic church who (apparently unbeknownst to him) was the grandson of a rabbi.  The story of discovery began with a Mother's Day gift of a subscription to  

7.  Since the highs and lows of seem to be an unintended theme in this week's Saturday Serendipity,  there is another post about the retrenchment taking place at Ancestry.  In addition to the demise of Y-DNA and mtDNA testing through Ancestry, say goodbye (as of September 5, 2014) to services such as MyFamily, My Canvas, Mundia, and  Read about it here.    

8.  And finally, without any comment on the right or the wrong of it -- but with the observation that maybe we should all look at where we now live and where our ancestors lived -- I suggest a quick visit to THIS interactive map of the expansion of the United States of America.     
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Fotos (June 20, 2014) -- Happy Birthday Susan!

Today, June 20th, is my younger sister's birthday.  Happy Happy Birthday!

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Original photograph in the personal collection of the author.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wordless Wednesday (June 18, 2014) -- Andover Beats Exeter, June 8, 1912

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Andover victory postcard from June 1912 in the personal collection of the author.  This baseball victory notice belonged to my paternal grandfather, Arnold G. Tew, Sr.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (June 14, 2014)

Here are a few recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this week:  

1.  TODAY is "Flag Day" so be sure to put Old Glory out for a day in the breeze. Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed June 14th as Flag Day in 1916, but it was not until 1949 that National Flag Day was established in a statute by Congress.  It is not an official federal holiday and it is at the President's discretion to proclaim the observance.  For more on the history of Flag Day see the Wikipedia article here. However, for a special treat on this Flag Day, spend a few minutes visiting here (courtesy of a tip at The Vault) to listen to a recreation of what the original version of The Star-Spangled Banner might have sounded like in 1814.  This year is the bicentennial of Francis Scott Key's anthem and you can hear all four verses.  It does sound different and you might find that, like me, you actually prefer it to modern renditions.  Enjoy! 


2.  Last week I mentioned a post about Johnny Appleseed and "word pictures" based on descriptions of John Chapman by those who actually knew him.  I speculated that this might be a way for us to reconstruct -- with the help of a forensic artist -- what our ancestors might have looked like where we have no photographs or paintings, but we do have some rich written descriptions. Now there is even better and more exciting news about finding out what ancestors might have actually looked like.  The Weekly Genealogist by NEHGS linked to this brief BBC News Magazine article about the use of DNA to possibly show us the faces of our ancestors!  Read about this fascinating possibility here.    

3.  I have mentioned here before -- and it bears repeating -- that anyone with New England roots who rarely gets the opportunity to visit that region should bookmark and visit Barbara Poole's Life From the Roots blog! Barbara is a talented and accomplished photographer and she repurposed her blog some time ago to emphasize New England through photographic imagery.  Barbara takes us on photo tours of various sites in New England and I highly recommend regular visits to her blog.

4.  And speaking of New England and photographic tours . . . If you have ancestors in Rhode Island, you should stop by Midge Frazel's blog, Granite in My Blood, to see her new series on visiting and photographing Rhode Island cemeteries.  Start with Midge's post of June 10th here and then follow as she continues the series.

5.  A recent post by Harold Henderson at Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog caught my attention and resulted in a post here on The Prism.  While considering alternative genealogy education resources when one finds conference attendance too difficult due to expense or other reasons, I failed to mention the increasingly popular and FREE genealogy resources in the world of podcasts.  Elizabeth Handler of From Maine to Kentucky blog commented on my post and correctly pointed out the oversight of podcasts among my resource listing.  I cited to her very useful post of May 9, 2014 -- Listen to Podcasts -- that provided links and brief summaries of a number of freely available genealogy podcasts in last week's Saturday Serendipity.  Since then, I have loaded my iPod with subscriptions to the podcasts Elizabeth cited so I can listen more regularly on my daily commute to and from work.  And this gave me the idea of occasionally mentioning  and linking to genealogy podcasts in Saturday Serendipity recommendations.  Today is the first such recommendation. 

Almost exactly a year ago (June 19, 2013) Jane Wilcox of The Forget-Me-Not Hour podcast did an extensive interview with Thomas W. Jones, author of the recent book Mastering Genealogical Proof. Learn more about Thomas Jones, his background, and his path to a passion for genealogy.  Thomas explains what the genealogical proof standard is (an accepted basis for accuracy) and why it is so important to apply it.  He shares stories of mistakes, how the genealogical proof standard was developed, etc.  This is an interview that anyone who pursues genealogy should listen to and learn from.

6.  If, like me, you are a confirmed northern lake person as opposed to an ocean seashore person, you will enjoy the silent movie clip Heather Rojo posted at Nutfield Genealogy blog.  It is silent footage of scenes from Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire from 1929.  I lived in New Hampshire for several years growing up and our family spent memorable times on Lake Winnipesaukee. One time that lives in now humorous infamy was the weekend we spent in a pop-up camper on a spit of sandy shore on Lake Winnipesaukee during three days of torrential rains -- two adults, four kids under 12 years old, and a dog deathly afraid of thunder and lightening.  It couldn't possibly have gotten any better than that, right? The next trip to Lake Winnipesaukee was therefore to a cabin at Kessler's Last Resort and that went much better.  Lots of swimming, learning to water ski, and making friends with the Anderson family in a neighboring cabin.  These experiences and summers on Lake Sunapee at the cottage of my best friend's family sealed the love affair I have with northern lakes.  It is why we have now spent more than 37 years vacationing on lakes in the Adirondacks of update New York.  Watching Heather's clip actually makes me very thankful for how little northern lake summer life has changed in the last 85 years.  If you too love northern lakes or have ever been to Lake Winnipesaukee, have a look here and enjoy!    

7.  Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings blog has a very engaging book publication notice for "The Parrett Migration," a new book by Dawn Parrett Thurston about her Parrett ancestors. I especially like the publicity summary for the book that states, "The Parretts were not generals, social reformers, or celebrated leaders of any kind.  They were not the sort of people who have books written about them."  In other words they sound like the vast majority of American families!  The book is 344 pages with lots of illustrations and is by an author who teaches how to write memoirs and family histories that people will want to read.  It sounds like a learn-by-example read and I think this is one I might have to add to my ever-growing reading pile.  Maybe you will want to do the same.    

8.  And finally, there is an interesting post with links in UpFront With NGS blog.  If you are stuck in your research on an ancestor and have little or no information to help you narrow possible birth dates and age, but you do have a reliable first name, then maybe you can use statistics on the popularity of first names to narrow a range of birth years and ages.  Sound intriguing?  Have a look here.    

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Image of the 1917 Flag Day poster from  The image is in the public domain as a work where any copyright has expired due to publication prior to January 1, 1923.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Fotos (Friday, June 13, 2014) --Triskaidekaphobiacs or Triskaidekaphiliacs??

While today is indeed Friday the Thirteenth, the photograph presented today is NOT a club of triskaidekaphobiacs or triskaidekaphiliacs in full regalia.  The photograph is of my maternal grandfather, Everett S. Carpenter (seated far left), with his fellow Masons.  Sadly, the photograph is not dated and the others in the photograph are not identified.

Since my grandfather, like his father before him and his son after him, were members of Unity Lodge No. 34 in Lonsdale, Rhode Island, it is believed that this is a photograph of members of that Lodge circa 1959.  

My great grandfather, Samuel Eber Carpenter, was a 32nd degree Mason, a past president of the Unity Masonic Company and a past master of Unity Lodge No. 34.  In fact, he was one of the principal participants in the groundbreaking ceremony for construction of the Unity Lodge temple in Lonsdale, RI on November 22, 1927 (see and for more information about the groundbreaking and to see the temple building that resulted).  

For the reasons stated above, it is believed today's photograph was taken in the Unity Lodge No. 34 temple in Lonsdale, RI in the late 1950s or early 1960s from the appearance of my grandfather.

If anyone has more information about this photograph, or if anyone can identify any of the other men in the photograph, please leave a comment.

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Original photograph in the collection of the author courtesy of my Aunt Lois, younger daughter of Everett S. Carpenter.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (June 7, 2014)

Here are a few recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this week:  

1.  Those of us who are interested in (or absorbed by) genealogy are perhaps more conscious than others about the precious time each of us has on this planet. We genealogists study the time our ancestors and relatives spent and the things they did before shuffling off this mortal coil.  With this in mind, you really MUST take a look at  "Your Life In Weeks" at Wait But Why blog.  In a very real sense, we genealogists are involved in the process of asking of our ancestors, "What did you do with your allotted weeks?"  And in so doing we might ask of ourselves, as the Wait But Why author suggests, "Are we making the most of our weeks?"  Have a read and maybe this article can serve as a writing prompt for you to post your thoughts on your blog.

2.   UpFront With NGS has a fascinating infographic on the history of languages in the United States.  Since we are largely a nation of immigrants that brought a number of languages with us to add to the native languages already here, you will find this infographic interesting and perhaps useful to your research.

3.   What could a penny buy back in  1949?  Well, penny candy was still a reality and bought more than a single piece of sweets.  Apparently it also bought the postage stamp necessary to send a not so subtle velvet-gloved guilt trip to a 3 1/2 year old who missed Sunday School.  I not only never got one of these, but I never knew they even existed -- until Donna Catterick of This I Leave blog shared it with us this past week.  Have a look at this obvious commercialized tool for Sunday School teachers to encourage attendance.  Does anyone else recall ever receiving one of these or have an example of another such "reminder?"

4.  If you have not heard or read about it yet, Ancestry announced that they will no longer be doing mtDNA or Y-DNA tests.  They have stated that they will focud on autosomal DNA testing.  If you have used Ancestry to do any DNA testing for family members, you should read Heather Rojo's post at Nutfield Genealogy blog here and consider your options for making sure you do not lose your DNA samples.

5.  At the risk of engaging in shameless self-promotion, if you have any family connection to Phillips Academy -- Andover, Massachusetts you might want to check out the companion posts at Barbara Poole's Life From The Roots blog and the post this past Thursday here at The Prism.  You can see some "then and now" photographs of the Phillips Andover campus from 1912-13 and 2014.

6.  Diane MacLean Boumenot of One Rhode Island Family blog posted a very  persuasive review of a new book titled, Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques.  Diane makes the case for why this is a different kind of genealogy research text and why it would be a good addition to one's genealogy library.

7.   Elizabeth Handler of From Maine to Kentucky blog posted a very useful summary of  genealogy and history related podcasts back on May 9th.  I am still catching up on my blog reading from a nearly month long hiatus in May and so I am late in recognizing and recommending this post.  If you have not seen it already, I recommend you go here and have a look.

8.  And finally, thanks to a tip from NEHGS,  here is an interesting item that caught my attention for two reason: (1) it was about Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) who I find to be an interesting real life character; and (2) it made me think about how we might be able to paint pictures of some of our ancestors where we also do not have actual photographic or other images to show what they looked like physically.  The writer of this article raises the possibility of "word pictures" based on descriptions left by those who knew or encountered him.  Well before I reached the last lines of the article ["I have yet to see a realistic portrait of Johnny Appleseed that came close to combining these eyewitness accounts.  Artists, take note."] I found myself thinking, "Why not assemble these word pictures and take them to a forensic artist to get what could be the closest accurate image of Johnny -- or some of our own ancestors using a similar process?"   
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Friday, June 6, 2014

The Best of Times For Genealogy -- With or Without Conference Attendance (June 6, 2014)

Harold Henderson of Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog is a source for thoughtful and sometimes controversial opinions about genealogy, genealogy blogging, and genealogy education and certification among other subjects.  His post of several thought "Items" this past Thursday gave me some pause and reason to ruminate.  

Item three of "Wandering through the wilderness"  in particular was thought provoking.  I am a member of NEHGS, the "largest US genealogy society" to which Harold referred.  I pay my dues.  I read The Weekly Genealogist and often mention it in my Saturday Serendipity round-ups.  I respond to more of the weekly NEHGS polls than not -- and I have had a small piece published in American Ancestors.  But I am also among those who responded to the survey about genealogy conferences and admitted I was not planning on attending one in 2014.  

By the end of Harold's post, I got the distinct impression that perhaps I and my ilk were not learning because we were not planning to attend a genealogy conference this year.  I wondered briefly if I was indeed a genealogy slacker who should be ashamed.  But then I said to myself, "Wait a darned minute John. Perhaps Harold is missing another alphabetized series of possibilities and he is leaping to conclusions about the dedication to genealogy education (or lack thereof) that you and your ilk have simply because you do not plan to attend a genealogy conference during this particular trip around the sun."  To wit . . . 

(a)  Attendance at genealogy conferences can be expensive and run hundreds of dollars and more when the cost of transportation, lodging, meals, and conference fees are taken into account.  Not everyone with a deep interest in genealogy can devote limited resources to travel to a genealogy conference or conferences even once in a while, let alone each year.

(b)  Those who are not retired and still have to answer to that pesky activity called "one's day job," often (if not usually) have limited time off each year to divide among responsibilities such as family, home upkeep, vacations, etc.  Attending conferences takes time from these other responsibilities and is especially difficult if the conference is during the normal work week and at a distant location requiring travel, lodging, meals, and so on.  Unless one's occupation is as a professional genealogist, genealogy pursuits have to be done around the demands of making a living and functioning as a member of an existing family.  And many non-professional genealogists already struggle with spouses and children who tend to believe too much discretionary time and family resources are spent on genealogy and not enough on living breathing family. 

(c)  Regularly reading the available genealogy resources of society journals, organization magazines, and even the content of genealogy blogs surely has educational value for those who cannot attend conferences.  And what about the increasingly available and marketed genealogy webinars and livestreaming of conference sessions?  Do these count as conference "attendance?" 

(d)  The payment of annual dues to the likes of NEHGS, NGS and state and local genealogical societies is more than just the price of a membership card.  It brings with it the resources of access to extensive research databases, journals/periodicals, magazines, webinars, and opportunities to self-educate outside occasional conferences.  Imagine the percentage of those who make use of all these resources but cannot take the time or expend the funds to attend a conference at least once a year!

After engaging in my own  wanderings through the conference Item raised by Harold I felt much better.  In fact, I came to the belief that for genealogy this is not the best of times and the worst of times -- it is the best of times.  Indeed, it is a Golden Age with more resources available to more people at less expense than ever before -- and a conference is just one of myriad resources for genealogical education.  

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that, "You can lead a genealogist to conferences, but a pencil must be lead!"  

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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Phillips Andover in the Early 20th Century (June 5, 2014)

Arnold G. Tew's Phillips Andover urn (circa 1912)

As I have written previously here at The Prism, my paternal grandfather, Arnold G. Tew, lost his father in a tragic train accident when my grandfather was just three months past his sixth birthday.  His father was hit and killed by a train in Providence while on his way to work one day.  About 7 or 8 years later my grandfather was accepted to attend Phillips Academy -- Andover (“Phillips Andover”) prep school in Andover, Massachusetts.

A.G. Tew (kneeling) with classmate on
Phillips Academy -- Andover campus
circa 1913.

Since the family was of very modest means and probably barely considered middle class, it has always been an unsolved mystery about how my widowed great grandmother was able to afford to pay for her son’s attendance at Phillips Andover.  There is speculation that there might have been some insurance settlement for the death of my great grandfather, but that is unexplored and remains mere speculation.

My grandfather was lame from a congenital defect in one knee that could not be corrected despite at least two surgeries.  As a result of his knee malady, he was not able to play sports and so he read with a passion and skipped one or two grades prior to high school based on his academic performance.  The family circumstances and his scholastic ability probably contributed to his being accepted at Phillips Andover in about 1910.

1913 photo believed to have been taken by my grandfather.

In 1912, my grandfather was one of eight students at Phillips Andover from Rhode Island.  He was a “Junior Middler” or sophomore in the Classical Department.[1]  His mother, Margaret "Maggie" Tew, ran a rooming house in Andover and my grandfather was living in that home along with at least two other Phillips Andover students (William Joseph Hever of New York, NY and Phillip Williams Burges of Petersham, MA).  Unfortunately, the address of my great grandmother’s rooming house in Andover in 1912 is not yet known and perhaps never will be.

Phillips Andover had several school-owned dormitories or "cottages" in 1912 -- Bancroft, Bartlett, Eaton, Abbot, Andover, etc. – but there were also several rooming houses in addition to “Mrs. Tew’s.”  There was Mrs. Clark’s, Mr. McCurdy’s, Mr. Fletcher’s, Miss Merrill’s and Mrs. Whitney’s to name just a few.  All together the cottages and rooming houses provided a residence for the 566 Phillips Andover students in 1912.

Period post card from showing some of the student resident cottages at Phillips Academy -- Andover.

A.G. Tew's room in 1913-1914 -- Andover Cottage 9.

For some unknown reason, I have never yet visited Phillips Andover, but my blogging friend, Barbara Poole of Life From The Roots blog,  has generously shared some current photos of the campus taken during her recent visit there.  Barbara's photos can be viewed here.  I do have two of my grandfather’s yearbooks – Pot Pourri – from 1912 and 1914, several photographs from my grandfather’s time at Phillips Academy, and some images from a vintage postcard website (credited below).  Between Barbara’s blog post showing Phillips Academy today, and the photos shown here, a sense of the changing face of Phillips Andover over the last century can be seen.

The Academy Building (1912)

The new indoor swimming pool (1912)

South Hall under construction (April 26, 1912)

The new baseball diamond (1912)

A period post card from showing some of the academic buildings at Phillips Andover in the early 20th century.

[1]  The four years at Phillips Andover consisted of the “Junior” or what would be called the freshman year in most high schools today (when the PA students were then called “preps”); the “Junior Middle” or sophomore year; the “Middle” or what would be recognized as the junior year in most high schools today; and the final “Senior” year.

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Photos of the Andover urn and of A.G. Tew and his classmate from the personal collection of the author.

Period post card images from as described.

Photographs of the Academy Building, the new indoor swimming pool, the construction of South Hall, and the new baseball diamond are all from the author's copy of the Phillips Andover 1912 "Pot Pourri" yearbook that belonged to his grandfather, Arnold G. Tew, Sr.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew

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