Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (January 31, 2015)

We were visiting our son, daughter-in-law, and baby granddaughter in NJ this weekend. As a consequence of getting back to Virginia much later than expected, this week's Saturday Serendipity is very abbreviated. The following are just a few recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this weekend. 

1.  If you know about the "Orphan Train riders" or if one of the riders happens to be a member of your family history, then you will want to read this article about the death at age 98 of the last known living Orphan Train rider. Thanks to a link provided by The Weekly Genealogist newsletter of NEHGS, you can read the article here.   You can learn more about the Orphan Train here.    

2.  Have you ever heard of "guano notes?"  Learn here in a piece at The Vault about one of the most unique and notorious form of debt in U.S. history and how it trapped Southern farmers into dangerous debt. Perhaps an ancestor or relative of yours had the misfortune to have been caught in this web?      

3.  We all heard of the "snow event" (otherwise known as a blizzard) that hit Long Island and coastal areas of New England this past week. Have you ever wondered how large amounts of snow were handled in the past? You can learn how Boston dealt with large snow storms in the past and see some very interesting photos of the equipment that was used here.

4.  And speaking of handling snow in years past, The Legal Genealogist also had an interesting post on the topic complete with photos.  You can see Judy Russell's piece here.             

5.  Are you familiar with the Internet Archive yet? It is "a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music and more." If you have not visited the Archive before, learn more about it and get some links at Upfront With NGS blog here.  

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Fotos (January 30, 2015) -- An Older William Henry Maines Jeffs, M.D.

This past Wednesday, the medical school graduation portrait of William Henry Maines Jeffs, M.D. (1864 - 1933) was posted. He is the maternal great grandfather of my wife Molly Nora [O'Kane] Tew. He is the great great grandfather of our two sons and he is the 3x great grandfather of our new granddaughter, Nora W. Tew. 

The photograph of William H. M. Jeffs is taken when he was a much older man, but precisely how old is unknown because the photograph is not dated. Perhaps it was taken at a garden party or tea for some formal occasion by the way he is dressed, but on the other hand it could have been taken as he was enjoying some tea in his yard before heading off to work.  The hat and magazine or newspaper seemingly tossed on the table in the background could support this interpretation.  Like many undated and undescribed photos, we will never know the true nature of this snapshot that froze a moment in time.
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Image scanned from an original photograph in the family collection.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Travel Thursday (January 29, 2015) -- Northville - Placid Trail Part 3: The "Trail Book"

Trail Book for the Tew Family August 1998 trek on the Northville - Placid Trail

As was my habit for extended backpacking treks of a week or more, I kept a "trail book" during our family trek on the Northville - Placid Trail in August 1998. My trail books are nothing fancy, just small 5 in. X 3 in. spiral notebooks of lined pages. I have such trail books for a week-long trek in the mountains of the Virginia Appalachians, several ten-day treks in the Sangre de Cristo Range of the southern Rocky Mountains at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, and the Northville - Placid Trail in the Adirondacks of upstate New York, which is shown above. 

As this series about our family trek on the Northville - Placid Trail continues, I will be referring to and quoting from the daily entries in the trail book. I usually ended each day by writing of the day's events by flashlight -- often after the others had fallen asleep and there was just the sound of rain or wind and the voices of the night woods for company.

For this week's post, I am showing the trail book itself and displaying the actual entry for our first day on the trail, which was depicted in a few photos last week.  I am also providing a transcription only of part of the brief introduction to the trail book.  Future posts will probably not display scanned images of the actual pages of the trail book, but typed transcriptions will be used liberally to accompany photos from our trek. This will save readers from having to decipher my unattractive block printing!  

The actual entry for Day 1 on the trail is as follows. . . .

Trail Book Intro [Not shown above]

     Left VA at 5:30 AM on Saturday, August 8th and arrived at the Donovans' in Albany at 1:30 PM. We all went swimming at the Donovans' swim club (K,J & JPT ran there & walked back). After shopping for last minute items -- salami, cheese & wraps -- and filling our maple syrup from their jug, we were ready for the trail the next day & relaxed over dinner in their back yard. A delicious dinner of corn-on-the cob, tomato cucumber salad and "speedies" -- a Binghamton specialty of marinated pork or chicken chunks grilled on skewers. 

Day 1, Sunday, Aug. 9th

Up at 5:00 AM & on the road to Upper Benson at 6:23. Arrived at the trailhead parking lot at 8:14 and took our first steps onto the N-LP Trail at 8:20 AM. Two young women started out to through [hike] just minutes behind us. We did not see them again until we stopped for lunch at Rock Lake where we had salami, provolone & wraps with lemonade & gorp. Swam here.

Saw dozens of toads and newts, Indian pipes etc. Kevin & Danny left us at Rock Lake & we continued on to Meco and finally Canary Pond where we camped on a pine covered point with nice rocks to swim off for a quick dip after supper. Supper was couscous & veg soup with chicken made in an oven bag & lemonade for drink. Vienna sausages for an appetizer.

The two young women also camped at Canary Lake [sic] though we didn't see them 'till just before we left the next morning. We were up at 6:15 and on the trail at 8:40. 

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A few words about terms, initials, or abbreviations used in the NPT trail book are appropriate. To start, some of the terms that come to mind are provided here in no particular order. If and when other terms require explanation, it will be provided in future posts.

JPT is our older son Jonathan. J is me. C is our younger son Christopher and M is wife and mother Molly, if and when it is used. 

Svea is an old, formerly very popular liquid fuel backpacking stove. It is a single burner with a brass fuel tank attached and is used to boil water and cook meals.

Oven bag refers to those plastic bags in which some cook chickens or turkeys. The bags are very light, tough and resist high temperatures. A good friend and backpacking buddy came up with the idea of using oven bags to mix the ingredients of soups, stews and other meals and then add necessary boiling water before hand-agitating and kneading the bag as the meal cooks in the closed bag. [Hands are wrapped in thick hiking socks during this maneuver!] The bag is opened or a corner is cut and the meal is squeezed/poured into cups or a dish to eat. Clean-up is easy because it is really non-existent. The empty bag is simply rolled up into an extremely small and light wad and added to the trail trash bag -- no fuss, no muss! It is brilliant for backpacking meals.

Iodine is used as both a noun and a verb in the trail book. It refers to iodine crystals in a small bottle to which a bit of water is added to create an iodine "brine." The brine is then added to water to kill any nasty microorganisms and make it potable. It is faster than filtering and can do its work while you hike. The downside is the taste it leaves. A popular iodine treatment and the one we used was "Polar Pure." The "tubs" or "lemonade" or "lemon drink" mentioned in the trail book refer to little tubs of powder (think "Country Time" mix) used to make the water into lemonade which hides the iodine taste.  

Blow down is an area where a violent storm with high winds has blown down many trees in a small area. It happens in the deep woods and is very dangerous if you happen to be in the area when it happens. It is a nuisance to be navigated when you come across one while backpacking. I was camping with a group once when a sudden storm hit during the night. A tree came down and landed on one of the tents and the fellow in it would have been killed or very seriously injured had he been in the tent at the time.

Boot sucking mud was our aptly descriptive term for all the thick, deep, black mud that covered many sections of the NPT during our trek. Trail ettiquette requires you to stay on the trail itself so as not to do damage to more of the woods and wilderness than the trail has already done. This means walking through puddles not into the woods to create new paths around them. It means walking through mud if there are no stepping stones in the path. This requires sturdy, tough, waterproof boots when backpacking under such conditions. When you walk into thick mud and lift your foot, you can feel the mud "sucking" at your boots, hence our oft repeated term on this trek.

Food drop refers to the two occasions where the NPT crossed major roads near a town or a state campsite and we had our food supplies restored by Molly's parents ("Grandma" and "Grandpa" in the trail book). The planning of this trek took months and before we left, a box of dehydrated food was sent up to Lake Placid with Molly's parents. They kept the box with them at their place on Lake Placid as we hiked north toward them. One two occasions during the trek at pre-planned, appointed times we met them and got our food supplies replenished from the box in the trunk of the car. They also had a list of some perishables to purchase and bring to the food drops (salami, provolone cheese, wraps for example) so for a day or so we had something other than dehydrated or packaged food. With respect to backpacking food there are many specialty dehydrated meals available, but they can be very expensive. Today there is a variety of dehydrated, packaged foods in almost any grocery store that can be bought much cheaper and then repackaged to suit backpacking needs. Some will be outraged to read that we ate "Pop Tarts" on the trail, but they are a good, fast, no-cook energy source and they are perfectly edible even when not cooked in a toaster. One favorite oven bag supper is angel hair noodles broken into small pieces for easy and fast cooking mixed with Knorr dehydrated vegetable packets and a small can or two of chicken. The ingredients can be bought at almost any grocery and are fairly cheap.  It mixes and cooks quickly and the oven bag saves using a pot and having to clean it.

Bear bag(s) are to keep food away from the black bears that are in the Adirondacks and to keep the bears away from us. Bears do not have great eyesight, but the do have an exquisite sense of smell. They are opportunistic feeders and will explore and try almost anything that does not smell repellant to them. They will be attracted by what we would call food smells, but they will also be attracted by the smell of medicines, scented tapes, lip balm, bowls, utensils and bottles used for food prep and eating and almost anything that could be called a "smellable" for an animal with an acute sense of smell. The bear bags are tough nylon bags with reinforced straps that are about two feet deep and a foot wide with cinch-string tops. We carried two -- each with nylon parachute cord 50 - 60 feet long. All our food and smellables went into the bags each night and the bags were tied to hang in the air out of reach of any animals. It was a trick to find a suitable location and tree well away from where we slept.

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Images scanned from originals in the collection of the author.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wordless Wednesday (January 28, 2015) -- Medical School Graduation Portrait Of William Henry Maines Jeffs, M.D.

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Image scanned from original portrait in the family collection. William Henry Maines Jeffs (1864 - 1933) is the maternal great grandfather of Molly and the great great grandfather of our sons.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (January 24, 2015)

The following are a few recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this weekend. 

1.  If you have New England roots in Western Massachusetts, you should check out the Western Massachusetts Families in 1790 at American  Eleven new sketches of families that were enumerated in the 1790 census for Berkshire and Hampshire Counties have been added.  Those added are the families of: Benjamin Brooks; Noah Brown; Gideon Martin: Simeon Martin; Jonathan Needham; Catharine Needham; Joseph Payne; William Snow (in Wilbraham); William Snow (in Springfield); Ichabod Stockwell; and Tahan Taylor.    

2.  As we genealogists (professional and amateur) know, the digital/computer revolution has brought huge changes to the field of genealogy. The next stage in information evolution is certainly the rise and development of AI or Artificial Intelligence. I cannot imagine how this next evolutionary step will affect genealogy, but it is sure to do so in some way. With that in mind, I recommend a read at Wait But Why blog about artificial intelligence. Part 1 "The AI Revolution: The Road to Superintelligence" is available here.    

3.  It is the kind of news that brings shudders to those who pursue genealogy -- the loss of extremely valuable and many times irreplaceable records and information from fire, flood, or other natural disaster. But what can really perplex and frighten a genealogist are the actions that knowingly and  intentionally lead to the demise of genealogy sources and resources -- actions such as those contained in a bill introduced in the Indiana legislature. A new bill in the House would cut a huge 24% of the funding to the Indiana State Library AND eliminate every penny of funding for the Genealogy Department of the Library.  Read about this potential tragedy here at The Legal Genealogist blog.        

4.  James Tanner at Genealogy's Star blog posted an interesting and useful piece (several links are provided) about parcel maps. You can read his post here.         

5.  Soldiers and Inmates enter the world of genealogy! 
In two stories of interest in The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS you can read about programs to promote an interest in genealogy. The Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) has launched "Operation Ancestor Search" to teach injured and ill service members at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas the fundamentals of researching their family history. Inmates in county jails throughout Utah, Arizona and Idaho -- nearly 2,300 of them -- are volunteering to form indexing teams to help organize genealogical records around the world. You can read about this program here 

6.  Do you have any ancestors or relatives that attended the Northern Illinois State Teachers College in DeKalb, Illinois and graduated in 1933 -- or do you think an ancestor or relative might have done so? If so, you should check out this post at This I Leave blog.  Donna Catterick has posted the 1933 Commencement program showing her mother's graduation, but there are also four pages of the names of other graduates for you to check out. You never know who you might find listed there that could add to your genealogy.       

7.  It is always useful to find a quick and handy list of new or updated databases that might be of use to your genealogy research.  Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings blog provides just such a list for database happenings on  You can see Randy's quick list here.       

8.  Upfront With NGS blog had an interesting and thought provoking piece this week about the discovery and preservation of previously undeveloped film containing images lost in time. The post has several useful links, as usual for this blog. As genealogists we know the value of preserving images so they are available for future generations and genealogy blogs surely provide a service in that endeavor.  Read more about undeveloped film archives and preservation here.     

9.  And finally, here is a very informative and useful post from The Ancestor Hunt blog by Kenneth R. Marks. The post provides a list (with links) to 160+ FREE online U.S. newspaper collections from 25 states. The states on the list are: ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, PA, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MS, MT, NE, NC, OH, OR, SD, TX and WI.          

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Friday, January 23, 2015

Family Recipe Friday (January 23, 2015) -- Clear "Rhode Island Clam Chowder"

[Like her husband (our older son, Jonathan), our daughter-in-law, Pamela Booth Winkler Tew, has family roots in Rhode Island. When Pam told me not long ago about the clambake club her extended family ran for decades in Newport -- and the wonderful clam chowder that they produced there -- I immediately thought a Family Recipe Friday guest post by Pam was needed in order to capture her memories and to preserve the recipe.  I am delighted that Pam agreed to do a post about her family food memories and that she could share the family clam chowder recipe that is so cherished. I think readers will be delighted too if they are fans of the clam chowders of New England and clear Rhode Island clam chowder in particular.  Thank you Pam!]

When I think about my family history and what kinds of things have been passed down through generations, all of my memories, along with the stories I’ve heard, are centered around food.  

My father was born in Newport, Rhode Island, where his mother, Elsie H. [Booth] Winkler (1919 - 2002), my maternal grandmother, was raised.  Most years we gather in Newport for a Booth family reunion with as many of the descendants of my grandmother and her four brothers as are able to attend.  

Some of my fondest childhood memories happened at these Booth family reunions, not the least of which was indulging in the amazing seafood sensations of Kempenaar’s Clambake Club.  Kempenar’s was run for 20 years by the Booth Family - first by my Great Uncle Donald, and then by Cousin Jack.  The star of the show at Kempenar's was Kempenar’s Clambake Club Clam Chowder -- not creamy, not tomato based, just pure clam chowder -- the clams were the star of the show! 

Jonathan and I were lucky enough to have my father and my Uncle Richard (supervised by Newport native, Cousin Ed) make Kempenaar’s Clambake Club Clam Chowder for our wedding in July 2012.

For Christmas 2011, my father created a family recipe book and gave it to my siblings and me - it chronicles all of the recipes that warm my heart.  And at the center is the Kempenar’s Clambake Club Clam Chowder recipe.  I have to say, I thought this was a secret that was to never be revealed, but surprisingly (and thankfully) - he had it all along!!  And here it is . . . 

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Photograph of example of a Rhode Island clear clam chowder from

Photograph of Kempenaar’s Clambake Club photographer and date unknown.

Recipe courtesy of the Booth family and Jim Winkler's recipe book gift to his daughter Pam.

N.B.  “It must be noted that while Kempenaar’s Clambake Club Clam Chowder was a definite hit at Jonathan and Pamela’s wedding, the stars of the show on that occasion were the lovely bride and her groom!”  John D. Tew
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Copyright 2015, Pamela Booth Winkler Tew
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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Travel Thursday (January 22, 2015) -- Northville - Placid Trail Part 2

A trail map in six sections came with the Northville-Placid Trail guidebook shown in the first post of this series. The map fit into a pocket in the back cover of the guidebook. While the fully opened paper map measures 32.75 in. x 20 in., the folded map -- at 4 in. x 5 in. as shown in the first photograph above -- fit nicely into the guidebook pocket. The paper was treated with  waterproofing solution before we hit the trail and was our constant companion during the trek. As this post series continues, the appropriate map section will be shown marking our progress along the trail.

On Day 1 of the trek, my former law partner Kevin and his son Dan dropped us and our gear at the trailhead.  Before leaving us, however, they hiked in with us to Rock Lake where we all had our first swim in a completely unoccupied wilderness lake. Rock Lake was 4.55 miles from the trailhead.

Kevin and Dan left us and headed for home in Delmar, NY just outside Albany. We continued on the trail headed for our first planned campsite at Canary Pond another 5 miles up the trail. On our way we stopped at Silver Lake 2.9 miles from Rock Lake and just over 2 miles from where we planned to camp our first night. We arrived at Silver Lake for an afternoon swim and some snacks during a break at an Adirondack lean-to located at Silver Lake. 

Replenishing our drinking water by filtering a few liters from Silver Lake

Lean-tos are located at various sites along the NPT and on lakes and trails throughout the Adirondacks. They are open in the front and closed on three sides with a slanting roof. Most of them have a stone fireplace in front of the lean-to. There are sanitary facilities at lean-to sites, but they are merely outhouses built over deep pits well away from the lean-to and any water. 

There are rules for using the lean-tos and they cannot be reserved in advance.  They are available on a first come, first served basis up to the capacity of the shelter (which is usually six people and gear). Parties of less than the shelter capacity cannot claim exclusive use of the lean-to and must allow late arrivals into the shelter if the capacity has not been reached. You cannot count on finding an available lean-to and so through-hikers need to carry backpacking tents in case a planned lean-to is full or one decides to camp at a location without a lean-to. We carried two backpacking tents with us.  One for the boys and the other for Molly and me.

The basic rules for lean-to use in 1998 were: (1) Plastic could not be used to close off the front of the shelter; (2) No nails or other permanent fasteners were allowed to affix a tarp in a lean-to -- but rope could be used to tie canvas tarps across the front of the shelter; and (3) No tents could be pitched inside a lean-to.  

The prohibition against plastic made sense for safety reasons.  Forbidding nails and other fasteners also made sense for shelter integrity and safety reasons. Running into a protruding nail miles into the wilderness would not be a good thing! Allowing canvas across the front if ropes were used was largely for protection during storms and to increase warmth in very cold weather (which could easily happen even in the middle of the summer). However, I never fully understood the no pitching tents in the lean-to restriction. In the era of self-supporting tents there would be no need to use fasteners into the shelter floor or walls. If a lean-to is nowhere near capacity by nighttime, a tent in the spring and summer black fly and mosquito seasons provides treasured protection from those pests. I admit to violating this rule on several occasions, but only when we were sure no one else was going to arrive for the night.

Trail break at the Adirondack lean-to on Silver Lake

After a short break at Silver Lake, we continued our trek until we arrived at Canary Pond having completed the first 9.5 miles of our trek. We once again set about filtering water and began setting up camp with our tents.  There was no lean-to at Canary Pond.  After camp was set we cooked supper, enjoyed the lake as the sun was setting, went in for a quick dip to wash off the trail and prepared to bed down for the night.

Before retiring and before it got dark, we had to find and prepare our "bear bags" to get all food and "smellables" up high and away from our campsite. "Smellables" include anything with an odor that could attract bears or other critters. This meant not only our food supplies, it meant items one might not normally think of as odorous -- but one has to remember that animals have vastly greater smelling ability than we do and they are very opportunistic when it comes to the possibility of finding a food source. So, toothpaste, used food utensils, water bottles that had juice in it, adhesive tape, medical kit, accumulated garbage, soap, all our untouched food supplies, etc., had to go into the bags and up in the air every night! Finding a suitable location and hanging the bear bag was a time consuming but very necessary task. This became a ritual at each campsite during the trek and was always accomplished well before dark. We were never disturbed by bears and never lost food supplies as a result of our prudent precautions.

Filtering water from Canary Pond for cooking supper and drinks. 

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Map images scanned form the original map used on the trek and belonging to the author.

All photographs by the author or family members and in the family collection.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (January 17, 2015)

The following are a few recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this weekend. 

1.  Heather Rojo's post today at Nutfield Genealogy blog is a must read for anyone with early New England roots.  Read "What I Learned From Another Blog That Helped Me Write This Surname Saturday Post" here

2.  If you are a New Englander, or if you have ancestors who lived in New England in 1919 -- particularly in the North End neighborhood of  Boston and its immediate environs -- then you might have family connections to, or family memories of, a truly unusual tragedy that happened 96 years ago this past Thursday, January 15th. You might want to research and explore any family memories of or connections to the Great Molasses Flood.  You can see photos of the tragedy here and read more about the history and cause here and here. [At the third link you can find a list of the 21 people who died in this unusual disaster!]

3.  Nancy at My Ancestors and Me blog had a thoughtful post that mused about the importance of accurate parent-child identification, the bias of early records toward males, and the challenges presented for discovering early female ancestors.  Give this post a read here -- and be sure to look at the helpful comments Nancy's musings invited.  

4.  Many of us have ancestors who served in the First World War a century ago.  Hundreds of thousands never came back from that "war to end all wars," but many lucky ones did. The soldiers themselves and their loved ones back home hoped and prayed for safe delivery from that awful conflict and many resorted to the use of "luck charms" to help get them through the dangers and horrors into which they had been thrust. This week The Vault had a poignant post about the charms used by WWI soldiers and you can see photos of many of the objects the soldiers carried with them here.  Does your family have any century old trinkets that you wonder why they they were saved all these years? Go back and look at them again, you just might be holding a luck charm carried into war by an ancestor!       

5.  This week Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings blog deconstructed the letter from's CEO Tim Sullivan and raises some interesting questions about what is to come on Ancestry in 2015.  Read Randy's analysis here.  

6.  And speaking of Randy Seaver, he weighed in on the latest post in James Tanner's continuing and informative series on "The Ins and Outs of Evidence fro Genealogists" (now up to part Six). Have a read of Part Six here and get links to the previous installments in this series -- but be sure to read the comment by Randy and the reply by James. [BTW, I agree completely with Randy's views on what constitutes "evidence" for genealogists.  Evidence can be positive/negative, right/wrong, good/bad but anything that is a piece of information or data that can be used to solve the puzzle at hand should be considered "evidence" IMHO. I agree with both Randy and James that the ultimate conclusion drawn from the amalgamation and analysis of all the bits of data ("evidence") is often if not always a personal opinion.] 

7.  Sticking with the subject of "evidence" for genealogists . . . The longer I pursue genealogy, the more I conclude that the universe of what can be considered "evidence" (as defined for us by Randy Seaver immediately above) and where it might be found or stumbled across is limited only by the creativity and ingenuity of people. Case in point is the "Reader's Perspective" piece by David M. Lamb in The Weekly Genealogist this past Wednesday. David had a repair shop for antique clocks in Des Moines, Iowa for many years. You can read here what David has to say about his discoveries in clocks over the years and then you might want to go exploring in those heirloom clocks you have in the house.     

8. So if you come across a statement in early vital records that an ancestor (usually female but sometimes male) was "keeping house," you know that she or he did not have a job or occupation outside the home, right? Well, not so fast! As The Legal Genealogist Judy Russell so carefully schools us in two informative posts this week, "keeping house" is not so easily defined.  Read "The Housekeeper" here and "The Other Housekeeper" here.      

9.  And finally, for those of you who know about Hart Island, New York City's final resting place for some 1 million plus "unknowns," the blog of NGS, UpFront With NGS, had a post this week about a database of Hart Island burial records.  People still are denied access to the island itself, but perhaps this database will be of use to some genealogists searching for lost souls from NYC. Read about Hart Island, the new database, and find links to learn and see more about Hart Island here.     

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Fotos (January 16, 2015) -- A Cape Cod Family Adventure (1959)

In the late spring of 1959, my father was sent from the Holyoke Sears store to help open a new Sears store in Hyannis, Massachusetts.  He was there for several weeks and when school was out the family went to the Cape to join him. We rented a small cottage in Coral Village at Craigville Beach, Barnstable, Massachusetts and had a bit of a beach vacation while the store opening was completed. My sister Susan and my younger brother Peter are shown with me outside our cottage in June 1959.

We spent time at the beach when it was not raining or too cold and when my father had days off we would take trips to the sand dunes out near Provincetown and explore various sites on the Cape. One of the places we visited was the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown. 

Below is a snapshot taken at the Mayflower Compact bas-relief panel at the bottom of the hill below the monument tower itself. My siblings and I are shown in front of the bas-relief depicting the signing of the Compact. 

What is intriguing about viewing this photo more than 55 years later is that at the time the photo was taken none of us realized that we and our mother were all descendants of Mayflower passenger Richard Warren through two of his daughters. Just a couple of years later after visiting Plymouth Plantation, I recall my maternal grandmother saying we were related to Richard Warren of the Mayflower, but it was not until 2008 that I finally compiled the proof of what until that time had just been a family "legend."

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Images scanned from original snapshots in the author's collection.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Travel Thursday (January 15, 2015) -- Beginning The Northville-Lake Placid Trail (August 9, 1998)

(L to R) Christopher, Molly, Jonathan and John minutes before setting off on a 133-mile trek into the Adirondack wilderness.

As the 1994 edition of the Guide to Adirondack Trails: NORTHVILLE-PLACID TRAIL states, "The N-P Trail is a 133-mile trunk-line footpath that traverses the heart of the Adirondack wilderness as a generally lowland route. it is not intended for beginners. The person who sets out on this trail should have the experience and confidence necessary to be self-sufficient. It is not a training ground, nor is it a place where help can be expected in an emergency." [Introduction, p. 4]

The Adirondack Park in upstate New York is the largest park in the nation outside of Alaska. It comprises about 6 million acres. Since Molly's parents had a "camp" on Lake Placid for a few decades we have been going to the High Peaks Region of the Adirondack Park for almost 40 years and our sons spent time up there every summer since they were born. We have climbed many mountains, paddled many lakes, and hiked many trails over the years.

After having visited Lake Placid and the Adirondack Park for more than twenty summers and several falls and winters, I finally decided in 1997 that the summer of 1998 was my time to backpack the famous Northville to Lake Placid Trail. I had read about it, seen photographs from along its path through the Park, and yearned to take up the challenge of doing a through-hike. 

In the fall of 1997, I announced my intent to spend my time in the Adirondacks the next summer hiking the N-P Trail. Since our sons would be 14 and 12 the summer of 1998 and had some decent hiking and backpacking experience I told them they were welcome to accompany me IF they agreed to do some training hikes over the next ten months leading up to our August 1998 vacation. I gave them a few months to decide and then told them I had to know how many to plan for so I could begin assembling the necessary gear and back-ups, map out the food drops I would ask their grandparents to do for us, and purchase missing equipment and supplies. They both said they wanted to join the expedition -- and then Molly (an experienced backpacker herself) announced she was not going to have her family go traipsing off into the Adirondack wilderness without her. So, to my delight, the dream of conquering the N-P Trail became a family adventure!

The Northville - Lake Placid Trail (NPT) was first laid out in 1922 - 1923 by volunteers of the Adirondack Mountain Club. This makes it older than the famed Appalachian Trail! By 1993, just five years before our family expedition, only about a thousand people had accomplished a through-hike of the NPT to become recorded End-to-Enders. It was my goal to add our names to that list.

The photograph above shows the Tew Family at 8:20 AM on the morning of August 9, 1998 at the southern terminus of the trail about to begin a planned ten-day trek north to Lake Placid through a wilderness of woods, lakes, rivers, bogs and unbelievable starry nights. 

This post begins a long-planned series of posts as "Travel Thursday" documents (more than 16 years after completion of the trek)  some of the highlights of our trek, which still ranks as one our greatest family adventures! 

Our well-used, trail beaten 1994 edition of the Northville-Placid Trail guide book

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Images scanned from original documents in the author's collection.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wordless Wednesday (January 14, 2015) -- The O'Kane Family Begins The Sabbatical Year (1955)

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Images scanned from the original post card and photograph in the family collection. 

In 1955, my father-in-law, a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, was granted a sabbatical year, which he spent teaching and doing research at Oxford University in England.  The family traveled "across the pond" aboard the Queen Elizabeth (then the largest liner in the world) and arrived in Southampton on August 23, 1955 -- five days before my wife Molly's third birthday. The family is pictured on deck taking in some sun on what was obviously a rather cool August day. [Front to back: Patrick with Molly standing, Doreen with Kathy on her lap, and Dan sitting close to the rail.]
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Monday, January 12, 2015

Monday Memories (January 12, 2015) -- The O'Kane Siblings (circa 1930)

Daniel Joseph O'Kane, Sr. (1889 - 1950) and his wife Nora C. Hayes ((1893 - 1981) had six children -- five of whom are pictured here in a proof from about 1930. The eldest child, Daniel J. O'Kane, Jr. (1919 - 2007), is the father of my wife Molly and the maternal grandfather of our two sons. He is at the extreme left in the photograph.

The other siblings shown in the photo (from left to right after Dan, Jr.) are Thomas J. O'Kane (1922 - 2008), Edward O'Kane (1921 - 2002), Raymond G. O'Kane (1925 - 1988), and Mary C. O'Kane (1928 - 1993). The sixth and youngest sibling, Grace P. O'Kane, was not born until 1933 and so is not pictured in this family portrait.

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Image scanned from an original in the family collection.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (January 10, 2015)

The following are a few recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this weekend. 

1.  It's baaaack! RAOGK has returned and UpFront With NGS has a link to the details here. RAOGK, of course, stands for "Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness."  It is a volunteer organization with over 4,000 members around the world who have agreed to donate time FOR FREE to fulfill requests for assistance with genealogical research. [Their expenses such as copying costs, postage, parking, etc., do need to be covered.] If you want to join or make contact with a volunteer find out more at the links provided at the UpFront With NGS post.     

2.  If you are a New Englander, or if you have deep roots in New England, or if you have visited New England often, then you will know Yankee magazine ("New England's Magazine For 80 Years."). The January/February 2015 issue has an interesting and potentially useful article on the recent rediscovery and rescue of 2,000 glass-plate negatives of New England life from the 1890s through the 1930s.  The negatives were found in a box in the cellar of Yankee's offices in Dublin, NH, but they have now been donated to Historic New England (HNE), a preservation society based in Boston.  You can see some of the photos from the rescued negatives in the Yankee article at your local library if you do not subscribe. You can also see archival shots from HNE's Yankee Publishing Collection at In addition, there are many New England photos to be seen at  the website of Historic New England  

3.  I came across a post about linking particular blog posts as opposed to the home page of a blog. Most bloggers who have been at it for a while know how to link directly to discrete blog posts and why one should do it, but sometimes a link provided to a discussion of an individual post takes you not to the particular post in question, but to the blog home page -- and then you must begin the process of findng the post of interest. Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small blog addresses this issue and provides the reasoning and the solution.  Read Amy's post here -- which should take you directly to her post on specific posting.  ;-)  

4.  Two items of interest this week from The Vault.  You no doubt have seen the media coverage of the opening of the time capsule buried beneath a cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House in 1795. The capsule was placed there by Samuel Adams, the then governor of Massachusetts, with the help of Paul Revere. You can read about the opening of the time capsule and see nice photos of the contents here.      

5.  The second item from The Vault will be of interest to map and tree lovers in particular. The Vault post here provides a series of maps showing the state of American forests in 1884. You can see what the forests were like for your ancestors not only by the places they lived, but also by the kinds of trees with which they would have been familiar.                    

6.  We genealogists are universally fascinated with history -- and usually this means we look backward more than forward. [Although I have argued in posts at The Prism that we should also concern ourselves with creating in the present preservation of information and artifacts that will become historic to our descendants.] Here is a piece that looks forward in an interesting way. Wait But Why blog asks, "Who From Our Modern Era Will Be Universally Known in the Year 4015?  If this intrigues you as it did me, see the thoughtful analysis and predictions at the link provided. Do you agree with the author's assessments? Perhaps this can be a blog prompt for you to add your own predictions. If it is, please let us know the link to your blog post! 

[I have my addition to the list that relates to the biggest innovation in genealogy research of late -- and to the worlds of medicine, biology, forensics, anthropology, information storage and a host of other presently known and unknown science and technology branches. How about James Watson, Francis Crick, and -- one hopes by 4015 -- Rosalind Franklin for their work in the discovery of the structure of DNA!?]  

7.  Returning to historic New England and photographs capturing past images . . . If you remember the slogan, "Wednesday Is Prince Spaghetti Day!", then you need to see the photos at Life From The Roots blog by the Ambassador of Lowell, Barbara Poole.  Have a look here.   

8. Valerie Hughes at Genealogy With Valerie blog, posted thoughts on how to add additional information from a blog post to a Find-A-Grave memorial. Read about her efforts here.    

9.  And finally, CONGRATULATIONS to our favorite Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell, on winning the crown as the niche category champ in the American Bar Association's Annual Blawg 100! BUT, not only did Judy get crowned niche champion, she garnered more overall votes than any other blog in the 100 except Top Class Actions blog. See the ABA formal notice of winners here and see Judy's post here.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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