Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (February 28, 2015)

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

1.  Many (if not most) genealogists have a big interest in the American Presidents. Many love to determine any possible relationship to one or more of the chief executives -- and the most recent weekly poll by The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS asked, "Are you related to any U.S. President?" 3,984 people responded to the survey! So if you like to read and learn about American Presidents, check out the recent post at Wait But Why blog, "The American Presidents - Johnson to McKinley" here.       

2.  Twenty children born between 1703 and 1722 all living in one household? Bill West of West in New England blog has the story of his prolific ancestors William and Samuel Upton. Read the story here.  

3.  Ever thought about writing a history of your family? Thought about it and then it slipped away in the hustle and bustle of family life and work? Well, The Weekly Genealogist newsletter of NEHGS linked to a nice piece titled "20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History" and you can read it here to re-incentivize that yearning to capture your family's history. 

4.  UpFront With NGS presents us this eek with Part 3 of the series on "20 FREE And (Relatively) New Genealogy & Family History Resources." See the latest list and links to the sites here.   

5.  And speaking of NGS (the National Genealogical Society) . . . NGS has launched a new digital publication called NGS MonthlyYou can read about the launch here.   

6.  Those "Eureka moments" are what genealogists live for and we can all enjoy the thrill when one of those moments happens for us or for fellow genealogists.  A few weeks ago Jacquie Schattner of Seeds To Tree blog had a Eureka moment when she found a missing family member after 18 years of searching.  Read about Jacquie's victory here.     

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Travel Thursday (February 26, 2015) -- Northville-Placid Trail Part 7

Day 5, Thursday, August 13

Signaling the start of Day 5 before leaving West Canada Creek lean-to 

Up at 6:10 AM to a very cold, damp morning at the West Canada Creek lean-to. We could see our breath & had a hard time getting out of our warm sleeping bags. Almost none of our clothing & gear that was hung all over the shelter dried over night so we were into poly-pews & Thorlos that were wet once again. Breakfast was granola bars, cinnamon pop tarts, hot chocolate, & coffee/tea. We were on the trail by 7:40 and soon came to South Lake lean-to where we went in to check the much touted view. Three men were there who were headed to Third Cedar lean-to. The two guys we saw at 2nd Spruce at lunch yesterday didn't get the South Lake lean-to & were still in bed when we saw them in tents on the shore of South Lake. We continued on and stopped for lunch at the edge of Third Cedar. Here the three guys passed us as did the two who tented at South Lake. The trail today had numerous black, muddy, boot sucking bogs, but nothing like yesterday.

South Lake

Molly and Jonathan on bridge at South Lake

South Lake bog

A section of trail consisting of boot sucking mud

JPT's staff measures 6 inches of boot sucking mud on the trail

We seemed to find our trail legs today & moved quite steadily to lunch & up to 3:00 or so talking often while hiking. It seems we get quiet & into our own thoughts of discomfort, contemplation & simply enduring as we begin to fatigue. We set a 13-mile goal in order to get to Lake Durant food drop on time & pushed to get down the trail. We all had our moments of testiness, but had lots of laughs too!

Beaver lodge in a meadow bog

Molly on split-log bridge

At Beaver Pond/Cedar Lake J & JPT went in for a quick swim & shampoo despite spotting a leech. JPT's ankle abrasion worsened & the mole skin took off some scabbed skin, so we gauzed and horse wrapped it at lunch while we put all our wet clothing to dry in spots of sun through the tree canopy. Lunch was the last of the salami & cheese on wraps with lemon drink and trail gorp.

John and Jonathan taking a swim break

At Beaver Pond we saw lots of cedar waxwings & a chipmunk who came 3/4 the way across the bridge at us then retreated. Moments later he came back & determinedly crossed over what he obviously considered his bridge. We heard and saw an osprey flying around. Saw lots of deer tracks in the muddy trail, but no deer. Bear scat & some obvious bear prints, but no bear sightings.

After a nice swim off the chipmunk's bridge. [Note JPT's horse wrapped right ankle.]

At Cedar Lake lean-to we saw a couple & their daughter with a barking golden retriever and we just passed by with a quick "Hello." A short way down the trail we caught & passed the two guys from lunch at 2nd Spruce who missed out on the South Lake lean-to and had to tent on the South Lake shore. They were already camped by the Cedar River & so were calling it a day. 

We signed the DEC register at 3:00 PM & started our 5-mile trek to Carry lean-to further up the Cedar. The hiking was steady & had many muddy, boggy areas where the trail was all but destroyed. As we got more tired, we all got a bit more cranky & trail talk came to an end as we plodded on.

Jonathan signing the trail register

We met our first N to S trail hikers deep in the woods & exchanged friendly, but quick & perfunctory "Hellos" with "have a great, dry day" and then moved on.

There was real confusion between the guide book & the USGS maps as apparently a new route on the west side of the Cedar was laid out to avoid 3 crossings now under water -- confusion led to more crankiness all around. JPT injured himself in the groin helping Molly on with her pack & we all just hoped to get to Carry lean-to & cook dinner. 

Major disappointment when we arrived finally at about 6:00 PM & found a man and his wife asleep in their tent in the shelter -- they had canoed in. The couple was from Troy, N.Y. and the wife was an LPN (nurse), but we never got their names. We set up camp & had noodle, veggie & ham stew, lemonade & coffee/tea/hot chocolate. The man and his wife proved quite friendly & we shared a fire until we retired to our tents in a small clearing beside the lean-to at 9:00 PM -- too tired to stay up to watch the Perseid meteor display. Motrins all around & in to write today's journal. Lights out at 10:19.  JPT said in his exhaustion today, "No way I'm doing the whole trail." But we'll see.

Bear bags hanging at Carry lean-to

View from Carry lean-to

Molly, Jonathan and the couple from Troy, NY in Carry lean-to at the end of the day

We all passed the 50-mile point today & I'm very proud of both Molly and Jonathan for how well they have done!

Tried the cell phone and got it to roam, but couldn't get through to G&G -- we'll try again tomorrow closer to Wakely Dam.

Saw a small family of common mergansers (ducks) up the Cedar River coming toward our lean-to, but they never came all the way.

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Additional Glossary terms:

Mole skin -- is a blister prevention adhesive plaster with light tan, soft velvety outer covering. It is designed to let any friction occur between a boot/shoe and the moleskin rather than with the skin and thereby stop blisters from developing.  Moleskin should be used as soon as a sore or "hot spot" is noticed on the foot and before a blister can develop.

Horse Wrap -- is a self adherent bandage wrap that adheres to itself without sticky adhesives. It is like 3M Coban Self-Adherent Wrap and similar wraps used by doctors and hospitals, but it is usually much less expensive (at The Tractor Store for farmers in our area) then at drug stores. It comes in widths of 2, 3 or 4 inches last time I looked and is very handy to have as a wound wrap in a backpacking first aid kit.  It came in various colors when the medical version was only basic skin-tone tan and we had bright pink and purple for this trek.  I try not to do any wilderness hiking without at least two rolls of about 5 yards. each.

Trail Gorp -- was originally a trail munch of "Good Old Raisin and Peanuts" (G.O.R.P.). It was intended to be no-cook and a quick sources of protein, fats and sugars for energy on the trail. It was originally a home-made concoction, but as often happens it became a commercial product once a market was known and versions of it can now be brought at 7-11s and in grocery stores. Most backpackers I know sill make their own, but have added M&Ms, various dried fruit bits and a variety of nuts to their "GORP."

DEC Register -- is a weather-protected sign-in sheet at various locations along trails in the Adirondacks -- including at points along the Northville-Placid Trail. "DEC" is the New York State "Department of Environmental Conservation," which has responsibility for so-called back country camping. Registration at points on trails makes it easier to determine where hikers have been and when in the event of missing people or emergencies. One should always sign in at any register along a wilderness trail like the NPT. 

USGS Maps -- are topographical maps that have by now been done for almost the entire United States. They are done on a smaller scale than the trail map in the NPT guide -- so they are larger and bulkier. We carried USGS maps as back-ups and dropped off the used ones at each of the two food drops so we only carried the ones we would need for the next sections of the trek.

Motrin -- the commercial version of the now over-the-counter ibuprofen. Always a good thing to carry on long treks through the back country in the event of injuries and or just significant muscle fatigue/swelling after a particularly long or rough day on one's feet with a full backpack!

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All images are from originals in the family collection.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Scouting Movement and World Thinking Day/B-P Day/Founder's Day (February 22, 2015)

Today's post in honor of the World Scouting Movement is a reprise of a piece first posted here at Filiopietism Prism on February 22, 2014. In posting this piece again, I join Heather Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy blog and others who are participating in a World Thinking Day meme for today via a Facebook campaign.  Be sure to check out Heather's and other posts that are also taking part in today's Scouting meme!



(L to R) Peter Baden-Powell; Robert S.S. Baden-Powell;
Heather Baden-Powell; and Olave Baden-Powell (1923)

In addition to being the birthday of George Washington (and my maternal grandfather, Everett S. Carpenter), today is the birthday of Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell born February 22, 1857 AND of his wife, Olave St. Clair Baden-Powell (nee Soames), born February 22, 1889.

Robert Baden-Powell, known to Scouts as "B-P," was the founder of the Scouting Movement. He was a Lieutenant General in the British Army and a war hero who wrote a book about the art and skill of reconnaissance and military scouting that became a hit with boys. In 1906-1907 B-P came out with a version of his scouting book aimed at boys and in 1907 he held a camp on Brownsea Island in England to test his ideas.  The next year he published Scouting for Boys and its popularity resulted in the formation of Scouting units across the UK.  The Scouting Movement was born and in 1910 the "Boy Scouts of America" was formed in the United States. The Girl Guides organization was also created in 1910 by B-P and his sister Agnes Baden-Powell.  [B-P's wife, Olave Baden-Powell, became the Chief Guide for England in 1918 and was later named the first World Chief Guide in 1930.] In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low founded the "Girl Scouts of the United States of America" after Low had a meeting with Robert Baden-Powell.

The Scouting/Guides Movement is the largest youth movement in the world. Today there are two organizations that form the global umbrella for the Scouting/Guides Movement: the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) largely for boys, and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) largely for girls. Scouting/Guiding exists in some 216 countries today and there are about 42 million registered Scouts/Guides (32 million Scouts in 2010 and 10 million Guides in 2006). Indonesia has the largest Scout/Guide membership total at 17.1 million (7.2% of the eligible population) while the United States has the second largest combined membership at 7.5 million (2.4% of the eligible population).

In recognition of the founding efforts of Robert S.S. Baden-Powell and his wife Olave St. Clair Baden-Powell as the Chief Scout and Chief Guide respectively, Scouts and Guides around the world designate February 22nd (the Baden-Powells' joint birthday) as a day to celebrate the values and accomplishments of the Scouting/Guiding Movement.  For the Guides/Girl Scouts today is known as "Thinking Day" or more recently "World Thinking Day" and it is a time to contemplate the movement, its goals, accomplishments and fellowship among members. For Boy Scouts, today is largely known as "B-P Day" or "Founder's Day" and it is also a time to contemplate and celebrate the movement and its two founders.

As I have written previously here and here on The Prism, Scouting has played a significant role in the experiences of generations of our family. My father-in-law was a Boy Scout in the 1930s and later became a Scoutmaster. My mother-in-law was a Girl Scout leader for many years at the Council level.  My wife and her sister were both Girl Scouts and counselors for several summers at Girl Scout camps in New Jersey and the Adirondacks of New York respectively. My brother-in-law is an Eagle Scout.

I was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout until I reached age 18. My father was a Troop Committee Chairman. Both our sons were in Scouting from Tiger Scouts through the time they each became an Eagle Scout.  Molly was a Tiger Coordinator and Den Leader for seven years or more. I served in various adult roles for more than 20 years: Pack Chairman; Cubmaster; Webelos Den Leader; Assistant Scoutmaster; Scoutmaster; Crew Advisor; Order of the Arrow Chapter Advisor; Order of the Arrow Associate Lodge Advisor; Wood Badge Assistant Course Director; Jamboree Scoutmaster; Philmont Crew Advisor, etc.

A poster of all the Merit Badges that could be earned by U.S. Boy Scouts (circa 2000)

The family's Scouting Wall displaying the Eagle medals of our two sons, Order of the Arrow Vigil certificates, photos from four National Jamborees and other honors and memorabilia 

Like anything else, Scouting is not perfect.  It is always a work in progress with many aims and values worthy of continuing and improving where necessary.  In 2007 world Scouting celebrated its 100th Anniversary.  In 2010 the Boy Scouts of America marked the same milestone and the Girl Scouts of the United States followed with their centenary in 2012. Today is a good day to pause and contemplate the founding and huge success of the Scouting/Guiding Movement and to hope its inclusiveness and successes will grow in the future. On balance it is one of the most positive and influential youth programs in history.

Happy World Thinking/B-P /Founders' Day!  

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Photographs of Robert Baden-Powell, Olave Baden-Powell, and B-P and Olave with two of their three children from the author's personal copy of Tim Jeal's 1989 biography Baden-Powell

The fleur-de-lis upon a trefoil logo representing the international combination of Scouting and Guiding is from and is used under the permission granted there.

Photographs of The Merits of Scouting poster and the family Scouting Wall by the author from his personal collection.

For more information about the Scouting/Guiding Movement and some of its history, see  

For more information about World Thinking Day, see

For more information about Robert S.S. Baden Powell, 1st Baron of Gilwell, see,,_1st_Baron_Baden-Powell

For more information about Olave St Clair Baden Powell, Baroness Baden-Powell and first World Chief Guide, see
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Dear Ancestry: I Have A Simple Yet Elegant Suggestion For Your Website Makeover. (February 21, 2015)

The recent news that is embarking on a complete makeover of its website to "make it easier to discover, share, and preserve your family history" reminded me of a suggestion I made to Ancestry perhaps two years ago. The announcement of the makeover -- based on substantial research done in order for Ancestry "to see new and innovative ways to reinvent  the way [Ancestry helps us] do family history" -- provides me with this opportunity to once again make a suggestion to the Ancestry development folks about a simple, but very helpful change they could make while the makeover is still only in beta testing mode.  If you agree that my suggestion would improve your enjoyment and use of Ancestry, perhaps you can add your voice via an email to Dan Lawyer, Senior Director of Product at Ancestry. 

I know many Ancestry users feel the same way I do about the "Public Ancestry Member Trees" usually listed first in the priority listing of the "Review Hints" when one clicks on the little shaking green leaves that indicate the presence of "Ancestry Hints" for a given person entered into one's tree.

The public trees can be interesting and sometimes even amusing. The public trees can occasionally provide "clues" to pursue or ask about.  BUT, the public trees are also notoriously inaccurate and often sparse or even devoid of source citations for basic factual assertions. For these reasons, public trees are the least (or in my case and that of many others), the last place I tend to look for family history and supporting sources for factual information. It is not that I never look at public trees, it is just that I rarely do and when I do I try to look with a very critical eye. 

Since my view and use of public trees is a rare and very cautious occurrence, it has always annoyed me that -- once I have reviewed and used or eliminated what I consider the substantive hints announced by the little shaking leaves (the Census documents, Find-A-Grave, City Directories, etc.) -- the little green hint leaf remains in place even if the only hints left to review are to public trees

What I suggested to Ancestry some time ago -- and which resulted in crickets -- was the simple idea that once the only hints left were public member trees, why not have the little leaf change color from green to say, orange? This would let me -- and many, many others like me -- know instantly that there are only public tree hints for a particular person . . . and until the leaf turns green again we could go about looking at more substantive hints elsewhere. To me the suggestion seemed simple enough and hugely beneficial, but it apparently fell on deaf ears.  

If you think my idea might "hold water," [as Vincent ("Vinny") LaGuardia Gambini of My Cousin Vinny fame would have asked], why not communicate with Ancestry and see if we can help them improve the website in this simple yet elegant way before the current beta testing moves to a final done-deal version. Dan Lawyer at Ancestry "loves working on his own family history and inventing ways to make doing family history easier." Let's see if we can help Dan and Ancestry help us in this simple yet elegant way! 

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Saturday Serendipity (February 21, 2015)

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

1.  If you have seen the Steven Spielberg film "Schindler's List," then you will recall the Nazi monster Amon Goeth played by actor Ralph Fiennes.  Can you imagine being 38 years old in 2008 and suddenly discovering that the real Amon Goeth, "the Butcher of Plaszow," is your grandfather? The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS provided a link to the story here. It is a fascinating read.   

2.  UpFront With NGS posted Part 2 of "20 Free Genealogy & Family History Resources" this week. You can get the list and links here.  

3.  Did you know is about to do a complete make-over of its website? James Tanner at Genealogy's Star blog provides a quick explanation and link to a "sneak preview."  See it here[By the way, James Tanner's post provided a nice reminder and prompt for a piece I have been meaning to write for some time now, so have a look at my "Dear Ancestry. . . " post here later today!]

4.  Our favorite legal genealogist, Judy Russell, once again makes a simple but important point about copyright and the way it can be and is abused by fellow genealogy enthusiasts.  Read "Copyright and the genealogy lecture" here . . . and remember, all kinds of sins can be avoided by the simple act of ASKING PERMISSION! 

5.  If you are from New England, have remote but deep roots in New England, or are simply an evolved "NewEngland-o-phile," then you might enjoy a blog of which I only recently became aware. Peter Muise of Boston is the author of New England Folklore blog.  Peter's blog has been around since 2008 and has some wonderful stories about New England, its people, and the tales they tell.  Have a look here.   
6.  Now here is an interesting and very useful tip and "how to" this week from Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings blog. Randy does all the work for us and walks us through how to create a calendar in Family Tree Maker that will show at a glance the birthdates of all our ancestors or other selected folks from our trees.  You can see the step-by-step instructions with screen shots here.  Thank you Randy!  

7.  And finally (again thanks to NEHGS and The Weekly Genealogist), to put everything in perspective for those of us who live today, but spend a good deal of our time and effort in the past . . . read this piece that ran this week on Public Radio International (PRI), "Why today is the best time to live in human history."  

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Friday, February 20, 2015

Want To Preserve All Your Genealogy Blog Efforts? Better book it! (February 20, 2015)

Like many genealogy/family history bloggers, soon after I began my blog and accumulated an increasing number of posts to which I had devoted a lot of time and energy -- as well as photographic and documentary materials -- I started to become concerned about how this continuing effort was going to be preserved for my sons, future descendants, interested family members, and relatives. I realized that the words, photos, and documents in my posts existed only as electrons in the "cloud" that is Google Blogger.  While I was (and am) happy with the quality, speed, and ease of publishing posts via Blogger to share with family and others, I became increasingly aware that I had no permanent, secure control over the content I had painstakingly created. As I thought about it, the preservation of the electrons that are Filiopietism Prism blog is anything but assured (think hackers, destruction of a server farm, future demise of Blogger, etc.).

Prior to beginning my blog, I had some experience using iPhoto to make Apple books. In fact, I have created five such hardback photo books to date. All are genealogy related, but they have limited text options and so are largely captioned photographs of family history and family events such as our son's wedding and the birth of our granddaughter. It was apparent that iPhoto books were not going to be a means of preserving my blog in book form. 

I started looking around for other options.

In early April 2013, I contacted Heather Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy blog to inquire about any efforts she made at preserving her blog in book form . . . and that is when I learned about Blurb and "slurping" blog content into a book format. Heather told me that she had been using a website called Blurb to publish Nutfield Genealogy in book form. Blurb does various kinds of books, but Heather's favorite feature on Blurb -- and the reason she uses it for making Nutfield Genealogy into book form -- is Blurb's "Blog to Book" feature.  

"You have to download a software called Booksmart to use Blurb," explained Heather. "When you choose the blog to book option it slurps the posts you select (you can select all or just certain ones) right into a book project.  You can edit it or leave it as it is.  It's very easy."

Following Heather's recommendation, I went to Blurb and produced a book of the first three months of Filiopietism Prism in plenty of time to make a Christmas gift of a copy to each of our sons. The finished product is pictured above. It is 96-pages of quality, high-gloss paper with a hardback cover and paper dust jacket. The book is square and large, measuring 12 inches x 12 inches. The inside looks this . . . 

What is immediately apparent is that the book format is not identical to the online version of the blog.  To see the difference, compare the actual blog post of Monday, February 11, 2013 here with the photo above showing how the same post loaded into Blurb and became the book entry shown above after some editing by me. Comments, color, and other template features of the blog page are eliminated and only the essential content is included.

I found that once the blog content is slurped into the chosen Blog to Book format, there is still considerable editing and formatting to be done in order to avoid wasted space, move photos into more logical positions, and to create a more book-like appearance. It is time consuming, but well worth the effort.

I have been working on Vol. 2 of my blog preservation project and have been contemplating some changes. In the beginning I thought I had to faithfully duplicate and preserve all the content of my blog . . .  but with more thought, I have determined that some of the post features on the blog are themselves somewhat too topical and ephemeral -- and thus probably not as important to try to preserve.  Case in point is my weekly Saturday Serendipity post that makes reading recommendations about interesting posts on other blogs and about genealogy/history-related pieces I have come across. Similarly, my old Samaritan Sunday series about genealogy-related good deeds performed by kind and generous strangers is likely on the chopping block for future volumes.   

What about cost?? 

The price per book can vary depending on the quality of the paper chosen and whether or not you want a softcover or hardcover (with dust jacket or ImageWrap), but for my 96-page book the cost ran about $1.00/page. When I consider the time and effort I have put into blogging and the value to my family of making sure it survives as something other than electrons, I think $1.00/page is a great bargain!

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All photographs by the author. 

Read more about Heather Rojo's book projects and her use of Blurb here.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Travel Thursday (February 19, 2015) -- Northville-Placid Trail Part 6

Day 4, Wednesday, August 12

Up at 6:15 AM and packed all our wet gear hoping for no rain today & a shelter tonight at West Canada Creek! Breakfast was oatmeal & raisins and water. To save time we iodined water for the trail instead of filtering it.

Molly and Jonathan on trail from Fall Stream heading to Jessup River

We saw several beautiful wilderness sights including Jessica River, Spruce Lake, Sampson Bog & the West Canada Creek.  But we had perhaps the worst hiking I've ever done while backpacking. At points the trail was literally a running stream from two days of rain and we lost lots of time having to negotiate around numerous boot-sucking muddy bogs that used to be parts of the trail. Our feet and boots were still wet from yesterday and now became thoroughly soaked. We all changed into our last dry Thorlos & poly-pews to start the day, but by lunch at second lean-to on Spruce Lake the two layers were soaked through & the boots were still wet and very muddy. We determined to make it to the West Canada Creek shelter to give us space to hang drying lines & ensure a dry night in the shelter.

John and Jonathan crossing Jessup River. [Jonathan is carrying the map pouch.]

Molly on a rocky uphill trail section that was running with water.

More boot sucking mud in the trail before Spruce Lake.

At Spruce Lake the first lean-to was occupied with a fire going and bear bag still hung at 12:30 in the afternoon so we went on to lean-to #2 where we found four guys drying stuff on the roof & beginning lunch. Turns out two were the ones who signed the register just ahead of us at Cold Stream & it was their deep mud prints we had been following for a day and a half. The other two had a huge dome tent they were drying as it had holes & leaked badly the night before. They were meeting friends coming from the north (one arrived just as we were leaving). They drove in to some point where they could connect to the N-LP Trail somehow & didn't hike too far. They had no filter or iodine & borrowed the backpackers' filter while we were there -- didn't sound too experienced or organized but they did complain about all the trash they found when they arrived -- including apples & other "bear food." 

At our Spruce Lake lunch break in the sun. 

A trail break at the Sampson Bog Outlet. 

Sampson Bog Outlet

Sampson Bog Outlet

We enjoyed a lunch of salami & cheese wraps, gorp & water on sunny rocks on the shore of Spruce Lake after stringing a line & using some sun at the lean-to to try to dry our socks, towels, etc. Our feet were water logged, so we dried them in the sun before putting on some talc and our damp socks again. We left bound for West Canada Creek -- 5 miles up the trail -- at 2:20 PM. The trail was a grueling, buggy mess off boot-sucking mud with several steep inclines, but we kept on until we hit the footbridge across West Canada & an empty shelter at 5:50 PM! We immediately lay claim by stringing up all our wet, smelly socks, T-shirts, shorts, underwear, etc. and went to the river to filter water and take a bracing bath in the breezy air. We cooked dinner of couscous with veggies, raisins & canned ham, lemon drink & hot chocolate, tea & coffee. After all was away in the bear bags we gathered up the drying tent parts, put up our tents in the lean-to & went to bed about 9:00 after having our first fire -- more to burn paper trash & attempt to dry our boots than anything else.

A stream crossing before West Canada Creek.

West Canada Creek.

The bridge crossing over West Canada Creek

The grand drying out at West Canada Creek lean-to. Notice the attempt to dry the boots at the fire.

At their request, I read the trail book entries thus far to Molly and JPT. JPT read some of his letter to Ashley -- the last he can mail from our next (and last) food drop at Lake Durant. As I end this it is 9:48. The fire is glowing embers in a very cool night & the West Canada is a dull, soothing background roar of water down the hill from our shelter. Tomorrow we attempt 13 miles & all hope the trail is much drier!

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Additional Glossary terms

Thorlos --  refers to special backpacking socks made by the Thorlo company.  They are reinforced and padded in the heel and ball of the foot and are designed to reduce blisters and foot pain and handle moisture better than normal socks.

Poly-pews -- refers to thin liner socks made from polypropylene, as synthetic material that allows foot moisture to be wicked away from the skin and into socks (such as Thorlos) to keep them drier and reduce friction that causes blisters. After a few days on the trail and repeated wearings, these nerds can assume a certain odor that caused us to refer to them as "poly-pews."
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All images from original snapshots in the family collection.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday (February 18, 2015) -- A 60-Year-Old Connecticut Driver's License

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Scanned image of my father's 1955 Connecticut driver's license from the original in the author's collection. The paper license measures 2.5 inches by 3.75 inches. The paper wallet only 2.25 inches by 2.875 inches.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Genealogy Factoids -- What Are They And Are They Worth Saving? (February 17, 2015)

Recently, Nancy at My Ancestors & Me blog posted a nice personal remembrance piece about her father's favorite entertainer -- the singer, pianist, actor, and comedian Jimmy Durante.

Heather Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy blog has written several times over the years about her participation in Girl Scouts and memories of her experiences. Examples of Heather's Girl Scout memories are here and here, but more are found at her "Girl Scout" tag in her blog's Lables list.  Barbara Poole of Life From The Roots blog has also shared her Girl Scout memories and photos as can be seen here

Jana Last of Jana's Genealogy and Family History blog answered six simple questions here about her childhood memories as a participant in Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun series a year ago. The questions were adapted from Judy Russell's keynote address at RootsTech 2014 and included questions like, "What was your favorite book as a child?" and "What was the first funeral you attended?"

Back in 2007, Bill West of West In New England blog posted about his doomed love affair with Fluffernutters and his ongoing love of Hot Chocolate, which can be enjoyed here.

Recently I have been posting about my family's 1998 backpacking trek on the Northville to Lake Placid Trail in the Adirondacks using entries from my trail book and photos taken along the way. The series began here and can be followed under the topic "Northville-Placid Trail."

What do these various posts share in common? They all recount little bits of information that were important in the lives of the bloggers themselves and/or their immediate family members, but they are not the kind of facts that are likely to be found in some public document or record in the future -- the kind of document records generally accorded the status of "primary sources." These blog posts are contemporary written oral history of events actually experienced by the writers and are about matters that will easily be lost in the course of just a couple or three generations if not recorded and preserved. These bits of information are what I would call "genealogy factoids," but do they -- or should they within a genealogy context -- meet the dictionary definition of "factoid" ("a brief or trivial item of news or information") or the definition generated on a whiteboard school exercise depicted below?

I would argue that the well-documented, contemporary written oral history that is often the subject of posts on genealogy blogs (especially those blogs more focused on a particular family history than on academic and technical aspects of the genealogy discipline) should be accorded more attention and effort at preservation.  I have written that those of us with living memories of ancestors and their likes, dislikes, and quirks should consider recording those "factoids" in some way before they are really lost for lack of some "official record."  Blogs accomplish this goal, but are probably only temporary themselves in that the vast majority exist only as stored electrons easily lost or abandoned.  Realizing this is why many bloggers increasingly now take the time to preserve their blogs in book form -- to increase the odds that the information contained in the blogs will be more easily preserved, passed down, and perhaps continued by descendants. 

In my opinion, genealogy factoids are important and serve to create color for our descendants and the genealogists of the future so that a genealogy becomes something more about the people than a black and white word portrait of dry, document-supported facts of birth dates, death dates, marriage, occupation, education, military service, etc. It is well written contemporary oral history full of factoids that will fill in the the portrait of an ancestor and give him or her the depth, color, and nuance that really makes each of us different, and which influences those around us -- especially our family members.

My 6th great grandfather, Col. Thomas Carpenter of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, fought in the Revolutionary War and is the basis for my membership in the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). I know of no existing portrait of what Thomas looked like. His appearance is apparently lost in time. But there is this genealogy factoid about Thomas found buried in the famous Carpenter Memorial by Amos B. Carpenter that provides some insight and color to who Thomas must have been. He must have been a man who (at least in his later years) loved food because his granddaughter told Amos Carpenter that her grandfather Thomas, "was a large, portly man." So much so that she was able to make a whole suit of clothes for one of her children out of one of her grandfather's vests!   

By paying attention to the careful and accurate recording of genealogy factoids we do the service of fleshing out the image of family members with facts that otherwise will be gone forever. How else will my descendants know that I loved backpacking in the woods and completed a trek of over 100 miles through the Adirondacks way back in 1998? How else will descendants or relatives know that Nancy's father loved an entertainer named Jimmy Durante? Or that Heather and Barbara were Girl Scouts and that the experience stayed with them all their lives? Or that Jana loved horse books and cherished ones her father gave her well into her adulthood -- and maybe passed them on to descendants who would otherwise wonder where they came from and why the old books were saved? Or, after learning what a Fluffernutter even was, that Bill West had so many Fluffernutters as a child he could not bear looking at one in adulthood?

Blog on . . . and remember that accurately written and preserved genealogy factoids are special kinds of facts that belong in any genealogy that is to be something more than a list of dates and events supported by primary documents!

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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