Saturday, January 28, 2017

Experiencing History

The very crowded Federal Center SW station at dawn on the morning of January 21, 2017. 

There are few times and events that one can say with near certainty will be considered historic in the years, decades, and perhaps centuries to come.

Since this blog is as much a family history as it is a blog about topics and issues concerning genealogy more generally, I think it is worth using it occasionally to leave a record for descendants of pieces of history that I have personally participated in or observed (given that this blog is periodically reduced to book form).

Before this post is taken by some as perhaps being politically partisan, I should go on record as saying I am neither a registered Republican nor a registered Democrat. I am an American whose family on both my mother's side and my father's side have been in America since 1620 and 1640 respectively. I am invested in America!

Since moving to Washington, DC in July 1978, I have witnessed or been caught up in several events that will almost surely be historically significant for many years to come.  I have written about or referenced some of those events in this blog previously.  But a brief listing of some of the events is appropriate here. 

I personally attended two Presidential Inaugurations in Washington, DC (Reagan's 1st and George W. Bush's 1st). 

Ronald Reagan's first Inauguration in January 1981 was the warmest on record at the time -- 55 degrees.  It was the first to take place on the so-called West Front of the United States Capitol and, despite the mild weather, it was reported that 10,000 were in the crowd that observed it. Even as the inauguration speech was taking place, the nation's attention was focused on the American hostages who were in their 444th day of captivity in Iran. They were released as the new President was in the midst of his luncheon in the Capitol with Congressional leaders.  Until Donald Trump was inaugurated eight days ago, President Reagan was the oldest man to assume the office. 

The first inauguration of George W. Bush in January 2001 took place on a gray, cold, rainy, overcast day. It was reported that 300,000 people attended despite the poor weather conditions. I was among a contingent of local Boy Scouts and Scout leaders who volunteered to man hospitality tents on the Mall for bands and others assembling for the inaugural parade. 

Molly is not Catholic and neither am I, but on October 8, 1979 we spent most of the day down on the National Mall to see and listen to Pope John-Paul II (who was the first Pope to visit the White House). There were a reported 175,000 people on the Mall that day to see and hear the Pope.

On September 11, 2001, I was in a meeting at the Washington Navy Yard when the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon took place. [I have written an account of my personal experience of that event here on this blog.] 

Almost twelve years to the day after 9-11 (on September 16, 2013), I was in my office at the Washington Navy Yard when an alert sounded for everyone to shelter-in-place immediately. Twelve people working in the NAVSEA (Naval Sea Systems Command) headquarters building just two buildings behind our office building were murdered that day by a lone gunman. Three more people were seriously injured. 

Looking east to the Capitol from the National Mall near 3rd Street and Independence at daybreak.

The latest historic event I have personally participated in and observed took place one week ago today on Saturday, January 21, 2017. Molly and I decided we had to be there to participate in the Women's March held that day. It is reported that 500,000 or more people were there to take part. I can say that the crowd was the largest assembly of humanity Molly and I had ever been part of. I  can also say that the size of the crowd dwarfed that of the Pope's 1979 Mass on the Mall, Ronald Reagan's inauguration in January 1981, and the January 2001 inauguration of George W. Bush -- all of which I personally observed. 

When they are older and perhaps learn about these times and that March, Molly and I are both going to be proud to tell our granddaughter and her sister (who arrives in May) that we were there -- and thinking of both of them often during the event.  The March was important, huge, and now a part of our history!

We arrived early enough to claim a spot to the left of the stage set up at 3rd and Independence
right in front of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Some very clever Suffragette participants in the March.  They were standing on a low wall just behind us near an entrance to the National Museum of the American Indian (as engraved above the entrance to the top left).

The stage and earliest assembly point. We are standing to the right of the tree at left near the American Indian Museum.

On Independence Ave. looking west from the stage area in front of the American Indian Museum.

Farther up Independence Ave. west of the stage and in front of the Air & Space Museum buildings on the right. One has to realize that this in only part of the crowd. Many more people could not get onto Independence Ave. or near the stage area and were on Constitution Ave. to the right on the other side of the National Mall from the Air & Space Museum -- as the next photo shows.

Marchers on Constitution Ave. on the other side of the Mall from Independence Ave. Participants first started assembling on Independence Ave. and are still over there waiting to be able to march onto Constitution Ave. west toward the White House.

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All photographs by the author except the aerial photos of the stage area and the crowd in front of the Air & Space museum which are marked "VOA" in the lower right.  VOA is the Voice of America, whose offices are directly across Independence Ave. from the National Museum of the American Indian from where we stood. We observed many people on the roof of the VOA building taking aerial shots such as these.  VOA is a U.S. Government-funded agency and is the official external broadcasting institution of the United States.  Also the photo of the marchers going west on Constitution Ave. is by Joeff Davis from

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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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Saturday Serendipity (January 28, 2017)

After missing a Saturday Serendipity posting last week due to a very early departure to participate in the Women's March on the Mall in D.C., here are a few recommended reads for this weekend.

1.  Up Front With NGS blog had two posts of interest this week. The first will be of great interest to those with Catholic ancestors who lived in the Archdiocese of Boston (the city of Boston and surrounding towns) between 1789 and 1900.  NEHGS and the Archdiocese have agreed to collaborate in a multi-year project to bring millions of sacramental records from more than 100 parishes into a searchable database online! You can read more about this project here and get a link for how you could get involved by contributing to the project.     

2.  The second interesting post on UpFront this week is a bit of obscure history about reenslavement petitions in Virginia.  While I was not born or raised in Virginia, I have lived in Virginia for a few decades now. I had never heard of this part of Virginia history. You can read here more about this odd legal process whereby free slaves could petition to be reenslaved . . . and find out why someone might have wanted to do such a thing.   

3.  James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog posted an interesting and useful piece this past Thursday titled, "Mortality for Genealogists."  It is worth a read and you can get directly to it here.     

4.  Confession . . . I plead guilty to being one of those self-appointed helpful people who cannot resist re-shelving a library reference book once I have used it (often despite signs that ask me not to).  Amy Johnson Crow explains why I -- and others like me -- might be committing a genealogy funding misdemeanor (if not a genealogy funding felony) these days.  I pledge to mend my ways when I see a no re-shelving sign. Read here why we should all pay more attention to these signs and follow the directions.         

5.  No link to read for this item, but what's fair is fair and so this is a necessary update on my part. I have posted previously about my disappointment with the new owners of Family Tree Maker software (Software MacKiev) due to the long delay in releasing the promised FREE upgrade to those of us who had the last Ancestry version of  FTM (so that we could seamlessly continue using FTM and sync it with our online Ancestry trees). On New Year's Eve day I received the long-awaited notice that the time had come and the update was available. Out of fairness I now report that soon after getting the notice and required link I downloaded the update.  
I followed the easy instructions and it worked smoothly and quickly. I did have a question afterward about purchase of a so-called Family Pack Upgrade for use on multiple machines and I was able to get a quick and clarifying explanation about what could and could not be done with a Family Pack purchase.  The explanation and near immediate agreement to refund the cost of my mistaken Family Pack purchase were much appreciated.  Weeks into my use of the long-promised free FTM Upgrade, I do not think it is premature to say "Thank you!" to Software MacKiev . . . the wait appears to have been worth it.          
6.  And finally, if you were told that a friend was going on a history tour of the United States this coming summer and planned to visit -- among other places -- Sucker, Puke, Fly Up the Creek, Sage Hen, Foxes, Gun Flints, Tooth Pick, and Chaw Bacon, would you want to go along?  Would you have any idea where he or she was going? Read this post at The Vault and you will.  😃 
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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Saturday Serendipity (January 14, 2017)

Here are a few recommended reads for over the weekend.

1.  For those with roots in Ireland, The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS brings to our attention a new database of 250,000 births, marriages, and deaths in indexes hosted online by the Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS).  IGRS was founded in 1936 in response to the destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland in 1922. The database "covers records dating prior to 1864 -- the year from which general civil registration began in Ireland." You can read more about this new resource here.   

2.  And if you happen to have roots in the state of Alabama, then UpFront With NGS blog has noted a useful new resource for you.  The Alabama Media Group recently donated its huge collection of historical photograph negatives to the Alabama Department of Archives and History. There are apparently more than 3 million images three different Alabama newspapers . . . most of which have never been published.  Learn more about this new resource here , where you can also watch a 1:45 video about the collection.  

3.  And speaking of research resources for genealogists to use, The Legal Genealogist (Judy Russell) posted this week about not overlooking the resource of legal notices placed in newspapers. Read Judy's informative post here.     

4.  Judy Russell also posted a very important warning this week concerning a genealogy website called FamilyTreeNow. Everyone should read Judy's post here and be reminded about the responsibility genealogists have to be very careful about the public dissemination of private and personal information . . . especially for living persons.  Judy also provides step-by-step directions on how one can opt out of having one's information available through this website. Those who go to Judy's post for her full take on this website and the issues involved, should also be sure to read the comments to the post!              

5.  This edition of Saturday Serendipity appears to have morphed into a resource index of sorts, and so it is appropriate to mention another useful resource that was spotlighted this week by James Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog.  Read here about a map of archives in the United Kingdom and a listing of national archives around the world as provided by the National Archives of the United Kingdom. As Mr. Tanner notes, there are apparently 2,246 archive sites in England alone!            

6.  Janine Adams of Organize Your Family History blog, posted yesterday on the frequently raised topic of using formal citations in genealogy. Janine addresses the subject with the following question, "How important is it for hobbyist genealogists to use properly formatted citations?" This is a subject I also discussed in a 2013 post. Read Janine's post and the accompanying comments here.        
7.  And finally, for a bit of levity, there is the post yesterday at Nutfield Genealogy by Heather Rojo. From time to time Heather posts about the "weird search terms" that someone somewhere Googled to land at her blog. Have a look here for the most recent additions to this strange collection. You'll knit your brow in puzzlement, you'll shake your head in disbelief at what can only be some basic educational failures, and you'll probably have a few good chuckles.  You can also get links to six previous weird search term posts.
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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Saturday Serendipity (January 7, 2017)

Here are a few recommended reads for over the weekend.

1.  Diane Boumenot's most recent post on One Rhode Island Family will certainly be of interest to anyone with roots in Rhode Island around the turn of the last century; but it is also a great reminder of living conditions for the working poor in most cities around that time.  Diane shows the story with photographs from the Library of Congress and, as always, her narrative is an engaging read.  Go here to see the post.  

2.  Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings blog posted on New Year's Day a very interesting post that has become an annual event for "numbers guys [and gals]." Randy does the service of compiling and updating the numbers data for 2016 on the tools used by genealogists. If you like numbers and want to get a good idea of how many genealogy enthusiasts  use which resources, you need to check out Randy's January 1st post titled "Genealogy Industry Benchmark Numbers . . . " here.  For example, if you look at the grave record numbers for FindAGrave vs. BillionGraves  you might just think it is time for BG to think about a new name.  Neither is close to a billion grave records, but FAG is leaving BG in the dust.😉

3.  If you or any family members were adopted in New Jersey, you need to read Judy Russell's post of January 4th. As Judy explains, as of this past Tuesday, January 3rd, children adopted in New Jersey post-1940 can now obtain by law their unaltered, original birth certificates! Some 300,000 children adopted in NJ between 1940 and 2015 are affected by this change in the law. Read more about this law here and learn who else can obtain a copy of the original birth certificates.   

4.  OK.  Before you follow the link for this read recommendation, get a piece of paper and write on it the baby name that you think is the "trendiest in American history!" To make it easier (possibly), a clue is that the name is found on the distaff side of naming conventions.  The Weekly Genealogist by NEHGS brought this article to our attention -- where you can see how your guess fares against the correct answer. No cheating! Good luck. [Oh, I almost forgot, for you Beatles fans there is a nice connection to learn about too!] 😉        

5.  If you use for your genealogy research -- as many of us do -- then you really must read a post this week by Amy Johnson Crow.  Those quivering leaves that signal Ancestry has found some possible clues for you are a bit more involved than they might seem at first. Read Amy's post here and find out what you probably did not know about those leaves!        

6.  Janine Adams of Organize Your Family History blog started a new feature on her blog this week. She will be interviewing "genealogy luminaries" in her series titled, "How They Do It." She kicks off the series this week with a well-known luminary -- none other than Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers fame. Read the inaugural interview here.   
7.  And finally, since marriages are such a big part of genealogy (for obvious reasons), a short piece attempting to answer the question about why in most western cultures the ring signifying a married person is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. Guesses anyone?  Read here to find out some of the most commonly accepted possible reasons. Ever heard of the vena amoris?  Read the article and you will learn what it is and where.  [N.B. Since there is no mention of it in the article, apparently the fact that the left side in heraldry is the "sinister" side has nothing to do with wearing a wedding ring on the left hand. 😀]   
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Copyright 2017, John D. Tew
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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Immortality (January 3, 2017) -- Huldah Antonia [Hasselbaum] Tew

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

My paternal grandmother was born Huldah Antonia Hasselbaum on July 16, 1898 in Providence, Rhode Island. She was a twin to her sister, Josephine Hasselbaum.  Both my grandmother and her sister Josephine are shown above with their mother, Maria Johanna [Richter] Hasselbaum, in a photograph taken in 1902 when the girls were four years old.  My grandmother, Huldah, is the one with the pronounced curly hair to the right of her mother as one looks at the photograph. Josephine is to the left. 

Huldah and her sister (as well as all their siblings) were first generation American.  Both of their parents came to the United States from Germany in the 1880s. Although the parents were thoroughly German, all the children were born in Providence and they were neither encourage to learn nor speak German; consequently while my grandmother could not speak to either of her parents in their native tongue, my grandfather, who took German in school at Phillips Andover, is said to have carried on lively conversations with his mother-in-law in the kitchen entirely in German (which pleased her I am sure).

My grandmother's father, Anton Hasselbaum, immigrated to the U.S. in 1884 and her mother, Maria Johanna Richter, immigrated in 1882. Anton was a very successful businessman in Providence and had his own liquor and bottling business. Anton died in 1916 and so he never experienced the devastation to his business and livelihood that Prohibition would have brought a mere fours years later. But he was able to provide nicely for his family and they grew up with all the advantages of a solid, affluent, middle-class family. When he died, he left his widow a large family house and one or two rental properties too.  Judging from the fashionable clothing my grandmother wore during her youth and young adulthood, and the beach vacations she enjoyed at Newport and at Horse Neck Beach in Westport, Massachusetts in the early part of the last century before she married, she led what must have been considered a very comfortable if not overly privileged life (as photos below will show).  

Photo and explanatory caption from The Evening Bulletin, Providence, RI (Tuesday, July 5, 1932)

Expanded view of the explanatory caption to the above photograph

My grandmother had four siblings in addition to her twin sister.  Three were older than she and her twin sister and one was younger. All were born in Providence.

The six children of Anton and Marie Johanna Hasselbaum.

Among a few of the peculiarities my grandmother possessed (as all of us do), was her penchant for writing across the face of family photographs and for referring to herself later in life as "Mother Tew."  As the photographs illustrate below, the captions she provided have been very helpful for placing people in place and time, but one wishes she would have done so on the reverse side of the photos.

Huldah Hasselbaum posing by the house she grew up in. Her niece, Dorothy Henry,
daughter of her older sister, Mary [Hasselbaum] Henry, is seen in the window

Huldah A. Hasselbaum in Vermont in 1920 before her engagement

In 1920, Huldah became engaged to my grandfather, Arnold G. Tew. They were married on July 16, 1921 at the Baptist Church on Broad Street in Providence.  In November 1922 the first of their three children (my father) was born.

My grandmother's engagement portrait (1920)

My grandparents (center) on their wedding day 

Huldah Tew on her wedding day. [For an explanation about the dark wedding attire,
see my previous post here

Huldah during the honeymoon at Grand Lake, Maine

Huldah [Hasselbaum] Tew with her first born child (my father) in 1923

Huldah Tew at age 40 (1938).

Huldah Tew at about age 40 (date unknown)

Huldah Tew with her husband and three adult children (April 1955)

Huldah Tew with her family (Christmas 1956). [That's me in my much cherished Davy Crockett suit]

My grandmother and grandfather in 1957 back at Grand Lake, Maine where they honeymooned in 1921. 

My grandmother lived to age 84 and she was able to see know all ten of her grandchildren. She died 34 years ago this day on January 3, 1983.  Gone but not forgotten!

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Photographs from the personal collection of the author.  Thanks to my Aunt Priscilla, my Uncle John, my cousin Bruce Marquardt, and others who have contributed to my collection over the years!
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Copyright 2017,  John D. Tew

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