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Monday, October 31, 2005

What Grandpa Didn't Tell You About the War

From Guardian Unlimited (of London, U.K.):

Top brass feared worst as GIs and good-time girls enjoyed blackout

Owen Bowcott
Tuesday November 1, 2005
The Guardian

Swarms of prostitutes and "good-time girls" pestered American soldiers in Mayfair to the extent that they posed a menace to Anglo-US relations, according to wartime police files released today.

Two conferences were organised at the Home Office to forestall the spread of moral outrage in the US and combat venereal diseases on the streets of London's West End. The Metropolitan police papers, withheld for more than 50 years but now in the National Archives in Kew, show a police force under pressure from senior US officers to clamp down on the trade.

[snip]

A letter to the Home Office said a US-born lady complained the "neighbourhood swarms with women and girls, some in their early teens, who pester American soldiers, clinging to their arms, refusing to be shaken off, telling stories of poverty".

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Conquerors Get All the Girls

From The New York (N.Y.) Times:

Scientists Link a Prolific Gene Tree to the Manchu Conquerors of China

By NICHOLAS WADE
Published: November 1, 2005

Geneticists have identified a major lineage of Y chromosomes in populations of northern China that they believe may mark the bearers as descendants of one of the Manchu conquerors who founded the Qing dynasty and ruled China from 1644 to 1911.

Because the founder of the lineage lived some 500 years ago, according to calculations based on the rate of genetic change, he may have been Giocangga, who died in 1582, the grandfather of the Manchu leader Nurhaci. At least 1.6 million men now carry this Manchu Y chromosome, says Chris Tyler-Smith, the leader of a team of English and Chinese geneticists.

[snip]

The Mongol Y chromosome presumably spread so widely because of the large number of concubines amassed by Genghis [Khan] and his relatives. The Manchu rulers, though not in Genghis's league, also were able to spread their lineage so far, Dr. Tyler-Smith and his colleagues suggest, because of being able to keep many concubines.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Skeleton Shortage a National Crisis

From the Milwaukee (Wis.) Journal Sentinel:

Bones of contention
Woman works to have her skeleton donated to school


By SUSANNE RUST
srust@journalsentinel.com
Last Updated: Oct. 30, 2005

For 10 years, Pegi Taylor has been waging a bone-wearying battle. To her surprise and relief, she may have just won the first round.

[snip]

Taylor, 51, a Milwaukee-based freelance writer, performance artist and art model, campaigns on behalf of human skeletons. She thinks there aren't enough around, and she's trying to get them back into classrooms across the nation.

She's also been searching for a way to keep her own skeleton intact and on display after she dies. She has found this mission surprisingly difficult but may have finally prevailed.

[snip]

"It's not as though I'm advocating for the use of skeletons," said Taylor. "I am responding to a national crisis," in which schools don't want to buy skeletons because of their expense and uncertain origin.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
If you've ever wondered how medical-school skeletons are produced, be sure to read the whole article. With the lights on.

Get Closer to Your Ancestors, But Not Too Close

From The (Twin Falls, Idaho) Times-News of Oct. 31, 2005:

Haunted homesite?
Reporter delves firsthand into mystery


By Joshua Palmer
Times-News writer

KIMBERLY -- Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and sometimes that truth sends chills up your spine.

[snip]

I was skeptical of the stories I heard about the Stricker Homesite. Either I hadn't seen enough horror movies, or I just wasn't in tune with, well, whatever it is that ghosts do. So I decided to find out for myself if the stories were true by staying the night alone in the Stricker mansion, and this is where my story begins.

[snip]

It was about this time when I heard a loud scraping noise like somebody dragging something on the floor above me. It broke the silence and sent me into a thought crazed frenzy to come up with logical reasons for the sound. I wasn't searching for holy water and a crucifix -- although I did have a bottle of Dasani and a Maglight -- but I was searching for anything to explain something I didn't know, so I wondered if this was how ghost stories were created.

I heard that people feel closer to their ancestors when they do genealogy or visit ancestral sites, and I wondered if maybe we sometimes confused that feeling with, say, the sensation you get when total silence is broken by a loud scraping sound.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Top Ten Signs You're Descended from Vampires

10. Your immigrant ancestor was shipped over in a six-foot box.

9. Your kids call the boogeyman "Buffy."

8. Your great-great-great-great-great-grandfather sleeps in the root cellar.

7. Angry villagers are camped out on your front lawn.

6. The only cause of death in your family is "heart attack."

5. Your sunblock is SPF 500.

4. Anne Rice keeps calling for an interview.

3. Your last name is "L'Impaleur."

2. Larry Van Helsing from work is asking way too many questions.

1. You can't watch the prom scene in Carrie without getting thirsty.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Pardon Denied

From The (San Diego State Univ.) Daily Aztec:

History lies six feet under

San Diego cemeteries offer more than cheap thrills; they give us a glimpse into the county's diverse background and culture


By Heather Quinn, Assistant City Editor
Published: Monday, October 31, 2005

For a good Halloween scare, there isn't any place as universally creepy as an old graveyard.

[snip]

But apart from their more morbid aspects, cemeteries have another story to tell. They are the repositories of the rich history of San Diego, the only places where the dead can still speak to the living - not as ghosts, but as legacies carved in tombstones.

[snip]

As Antonio Garra was led to the open grave he would momentarily occupy, he was ordered to beg pardon for the crime he was sentenced to execution for.

"Gentlemen, I ask your pardon for all my offenses, and expect yours in return."

Upon saying these last words, Garra was shot and killed by the waiting firing squad, according to www.sandiegohistory.org, the San Diego Historical Society's Web site.

[Read the whole story]

Letters Back From the Front

None of my direct ancestors have seen combat since Cornwallis sent up his white flag in 1781. My late grandfather served in the National Guard, but had the good sense to finish his stint a few months before Pearl Harbor. The letters he exchanged with his new bride testify both to his service and to a disturbing case of adolescent mushiness. Given the news that Megan Smolenyak2 passed along today, I'm glad my mother grabbed them before the Smithsonian could put them on display.

Megan reports that an exhibit is set to open at the National Postal Museum on Veteran's Day. According to a release from the museum, "War Letters: Lost and Found" will feature "original letters from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam that were lost or abandoned and then rediscovered by strangers." The exhibit was created in collaboration with Andrew Carroll, founder of the The Legacy Project.

“What makes these letters so incredible, along with the history they record, are the stories behind them,” said Carroll. “These letters were found at yard sales, in trash bins, under floorboards in homes being renovated by new owners, and even on the fields of battle. And they all would have been lost forever if some conscientious soul hadn’t ‘rescued’ them.”
Visit The Legacy Project for links to other sites featuring war letters.

Township Pursues the Undead

From the Grand Rapids (Minn.) Herald-Review:

Township searches for plot purchasers

Willow Loney
Herald-Review
Last Updated: Friday, October 28th, 2005

If you don’t claim yours today, you may find your final resting place already occupied.

Grand Rapids Township is currently looking for people who purchased a grave site in the Itasca Calvary Cemetery 50 years ago and have not yet made use of the plot since then.

[snip]

The Grand Rapids Township Board several years ago decided that it needed to clean up its records in regards to the cemetery. The board engaged three genealogists (Jan Linser, Elaine Wilson and Linda Snell) along with former Township Clerk Virginia Peavey to research burials and ownership of plots in the cemetery. After several months of investigative work, the genealogists have not been able to come into contact with 153 names of those who purchased a plot in the Itasca Calvary Cemetery and have not used their site in the last 50 years.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Only Genealogists May Enter Here

From The Honolulu (Hawaii) Star-Bulletin of Oct. 30, 2005:

Mausoleum fears theft of treasures

The caretaker says a Hawaiian group has reneged on a loan


By Sally Apgar
sapgar@starbulletin.com

Two sacred staffs topped with golden orbs that for more than 113 years watched over the crypt of the royal line of Kamehameha are missing and believed stolen, according to the caretaker of the Royal Mausoleum known as Mauna 'Ala.

In interviews last week, William Kaihe'ekai Mai'oho, the "kahu," or caretaker, of the Royal Mausoleum in Nuuanu Valley, said he stood on sacred ground of the high chiefs, or, "ali'i," and looked straight into the eyes of another Hawaiian who asked to borrow the pair of "pulo'ulo'u." Mai'oho said he "made a good-faith loan."

[snip]

The pulo'ulo'u are believed to hold strong mana. In front of a chief's house, they were sometimes crossed, which forbade entrance to others unless the person chanted their genealogy and business and was permitted entrance. If the pulo'ulo'u were upright, a person could pass through.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Are First-Born Scorpio Cowgirls Immortal?

Leonid A. Gavrilov and Natalia S. Gavrilova of the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center have been studying the longevity of American centenarians. To identify the 100-year-olds, they've been using the Internet.

[W]e extracted detailed family data for 991 alleged centenarians born in 1875-1899 in the United States from publicly available computerized genealogies of 75 million individuals identified in our previous study. . . . In order to validate the age of the centenarians, we linked these records to the Social Security Administration Death Master File records (for death date validation) and then to the records of the U.S. censuses for years 1900, 1910 and 1920 (for birth date validation). [Link (pdf)]
The researchers found that three unexpected factors may contribute to an extra-long life:
  • Women and men who were the first born in large families were two to three times more likely to make it to 100 than later-born children.
  • Those raised in the rural West had a better chance of reaching that age.
  • People who were born in October and November had longer life expectancy than those born in April through June. [Link]
If you satisfy none of these criteria, you may want to start making final arrangements now.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

When Dracula Met Frankenstein

From The (Glasgow, Scotland) Sunday Herald of Oct. 30, 2005:

The true story of Frankenstein and Dracula’s bloody fight to the death

By Jenifer Johnston

Their fictional alter-egos have terrified and entertained for more than 100 years, but new evidence unearthed by a leading historian suggests that the real-life Dracula and Frankenstein crossed paths centuries ago and fought a bloody battle to the death.

In a collapsed, moss-covered crypt in St Mary’s Evangelical church in the Romanian town of Sibiu lie the earthly remains of Frank Baron von Frankenstein where he was buried following his execution by Vlad Dracula the Impaler in the early 15th century.

The discovery, by celebrated historian and Sunday Herald correspondent Gabriel Ronay, establishes an extraordinary historical connection between the real-life inspirations for two of the literary world’s most loved creations.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Friday, October 28, 2005

Didn't Shania Twain Write 'Huck Finn'?

From The (Provo, Utah) Daily Herald of Oct. 28, 2005:

Tolstoy namesake speaks at UVSC

Anna Chang-Yen DAILY HERALD

Textbooks, novels, historical works, the first diary recorded in Russia -- they all are the work of Nikolai Tolstoy's ancestors. But perhaps the distinction that draws the most attention is the fact that his grandfather's cousin was Leo Tolstoy, author of "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina."

Nikolai Tolstoy, who also is the step-son of novelist Patrick O'Brian, told attendees at a reception in his honor at Utah Valley State College on Thursday that his family enjoys a legacy of literature and creativity. Sometimes, he said, the connection leads to confusion. At the premiere of the Russian film "War and Peace," Tolstoy was seated at a table with dignitaries including a young Russian actress. The actress ignored him for most of the night, he said, but after he was introduced, she asked, "Why didn't you tell me you were the screenwriter?"

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Genealogy v. Church of England

From The (London, U.K.) Times of Oct. 29, 2005:

Brothers stand to make millions from 1841 ruling on Church land

By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

THE Church of England is facing a bill which could run into millions of pounds after it lost a legal battle over selling redundant church schools and keeping the proceeds.

The historic judgment in the House of Lords came after two brothers who specialise in genealogical research challenged the Canterbury Diocese over its sale of a primary school near Maidstone. Simon and Nathan Fraser acted on a legal technicality dating from an obscure 19th-century law.

Under the 1841 School Sites Act, landowners were encouraged to grant land to the Church for education, with the proviso that, if the usage changed, possession would revert to their descendants.

[snip]

The Fraser brothers tracked down the 18 living descendants and bought up the interests in the case from a number of them.

[snip]

Now their investment has been rewarded, as the diocese has been told it acted illegally and must recover and redistribute the cash to the descendants of Jane Mercer and Lewis Wigan.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Hallo-weenealogy

Halloween is a time to think of family—especially those family members classified (rightly or wrongly) as wicked, bloodthirsty, or inhuman.

Witch descendants are a dime a dozen here in New England. Two of my own ancestors—Mary Easty and Sarah Wilds—were tried and executed in Salem. See The Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive for transcribed and digitized documents from the trials. Witch Trial Ancestors & Families features genealogical data on the Salem witches, and on victims of other witchhunts.

Playwright David Drake claims descent from Dracula himself. See also Vlad the Impaler: A Brief History (which claims that the Dracula male lines were snuffed out long ago). The Bassaraba family is proud to call Vlad a cousin.

Those bearing the surname "Frankenstein" (according to Gene Wilder, "it's pronounced 'Fronkensteen'") carry a lot of extra baggage, thanks to Mary Shelley. Boothillcemetery.com has a Frankenstein family tree that includes several individuals who met untimely ends at the hands of the Creature. Family members commiserate at the Frankstein GenForum.

Finally, I must mention the unfortunate juxtaposition of surnames at the Fredericks/Krueger Family Web Site. Anyone who has seen A Nightmare on Elm Street will understand.

England's Second-Oldest Profession

From UTV (of Belfast, Northern Ireland), posted Oct. 28, 2005:

Dirty dens in Albert Square

EastEnders' Albert Square was once the home of brothel keepers, according to TV historian Tony Robinson.

His researches showed there was a real Albert Square up until around the Second World War.

And in a census taken in Victorian times nearly every head of household there put down his employment as a brothel keeper.

"Nothing much changes ..." quipped Robinson when he hosted the launch of the complete 1851 census for England and Wales online.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Postcard Delivered 93 Years Late

From (Prince William Co., Va.) PotomacNews.com:

Woman finds relatives of 93-year-old postcard

By Daniel Gilbert
dgilbert@manassasjm.com
Friday, October 28, 2005

Margie McHose has an unusual affection for Alfred Leigh, a man she has never met, a man who died long before she was born.

An image of Leigh, a former slave turned shoemaker, wound up on the face of a postcard in McHose's garage last May, inspiring a search to locate his living family. The search ended on Thursday at a conference in Washington, D.C.

McHose, a retired Woodbridge resident, was preparing for a yard sale when she discovered a postcard featuring an old black man in cobbler attire at the Jamestown Exposition. The caption identified the man as Alfred Leigh, a former slave belonging to Judge Thomas Leigh of Halifax County. The postcard was not dated.

[snip]

"I kept looking at the picture and looking at the face," she says in a heavy Bronx accent, "and I know it might sound crazy and weird, but his eyes seemed to say: 'Find where I belong.' "

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Ghosts: A Neglected Genealogical Resource

In their haste to catalog the dead, genealogists often forget that some ancestors still walk among us, and can be invaluable sources of information.

A good place to start your specter-quest is The Shadowlands—a website which claims to have gathered "Over 10,100 true ghost stories." Such a claim cannot be made on the Internet without solid proof. With your family history in mind, choose a state or country from the haunting index, and browse the listings for familiar place names. If your ancestor's home or burial spot is listed, you may be in luck.

Take, for instance, Philip Jordan of Seattle. He found a reference on The Shadowlands to a ghost haunting St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Cumberland, Maryland. The website reported that the spirit of a "Civil War soldier who was executed for killing an officer is seen in the church rectory." Jordan immediately recognized the soldier as his great-great-grandfather, Ozias B. Jordan, who in 1864 shot a lieutenant in the back for pinching his tin of meat.

Jordan flew to Maryland to visit the church. After a brief interview with the ghost, he was able to identify his ancestor's first wife as Luella Martin—not Luella Morton, as family tradition had it. He was also able to put to rest another piece of family lore, which said that Ozias volunteered for the service.

"He let me know that wasn't true," Philip told The Genealogue. "He said he'd have shot the recruiting officers if they hadn't shackled him to a fence post. I got the feeling he'd have shot me if he weren't, you know, dead."

The chance of hearing disturbing family secrets should not dissuade you from tracking down and interviewing your own ghostly forebears. Here are some tips:

  • Visit them on their home turf, where they will be most comfortable.
  • Bring along a tape recorder, but don't be surprised if only your voice is recorded.
  • Ask questions that require more than Yes or No answers, as ghosts are known to be tight-lipped.
  • Be patient. Pushing for answers may get you slimed with ectoplasm.
  • Thank them for their time, and then run away screaming.

Long-Dead Girl Shows her Face

From the Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail:

Are images on gravestone clues sent from the grave?

By JENNIFER JONES
Anderson Independent-Mail
October 25, 2005

A particular headstone in the Old Clarkesville, Ga., Cemetery is causing quite a stir among the locals. The oldest in the graveyard, the headstone of Calvin J. Hanks stood quietly for more than 160 years before people started to notice a change.

The mysterious image of a little girl’s face suddenly appeared on the stone.

For many, the appearance of the face has made even the most skeptic reconsider.

"I’m telling you that it is so realistic that it’s amazing," said Andrea Harper, administrative assistant for the Habersham Chamber of Commerce. "I don’t believe in that kind of stuff either but when you see the image of a face on the headstone, it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Ted Williams, La Astilla Espléndida

From The Boston (Mass.) Globe:

WORLD SERIES NOTEBOOK

By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff | October 27, 2005

[snip]

Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, and Juan Marichal were the players with Red Sox ties selected to the Latino Legends team announced yesterday.

[snip]

New England baseball historian Bill Nowlin, among others, raised questions why Ted Williams, who was of Mexican ancestry on his mother's side, was not included on the ballot. Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson was another critic, citing his Mexican ancestry and wondering why he wasn't on the ballot, either.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

185-Year-Old Couple Moves to Higher Ground

From the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Post-Gazette:

Long road for long-dead to dry ground

Thursday, October 27, 2005
By Dennis B. Roddy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

JOHNSTOWN -- One-hundred-sixteen years after he survived the Great Johnstown Flood, 109 years after he died, and five hours after a judge granted a petition to move him to higher ground, Henry Leckey was out of the clay of Sandyvale Cemetery and en route to the suburbs.

He traveled light: a shattered skull, some surprisingly perfect teeth, a left thigh bone, bits of a jacket and the sole of a size-8 shoe were Henry. His first wife, Mary, who died 14 years before him, made the journey as well. Diggers found bones and a dress.

[snip]

"I don't want my great-great grandparents under a pond," said Donald Leckey, a Michigan engineer who spent years seeking his ancestors and, upon finding their grave, was mortified at plans to turn their cemetery into a memorial botanical garden, complete with decorative pond, fruit trees and a recreation area -- all of it, presumably, atop the nearly 3,000 early Johnstowners interred there.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Descent of (Matthew Chap)man

From The Philadelphia (Pa.) Inquirer of Oct. 26, 2005:

Naturally, he's a chip off the old DNA

By Amy Worden

Inquirer Staff Writer

HARRISBURG - Charles Darwin might not be in the federal courtroom to hear witnesses challenge his theory of evolution.

But his DNA is.

As one of Darwin's most vocal modern-day critics testified in a landmark lawsuit last week, the eminent scientist's great-great-grandson sat six feet away in the jury-box-turned-press box.

[snip]

[Matthew] Chapman said he doesn't feel defensive about his ancestry.

"The only time I've felt proud of being descended from Darwin is in opposition to creationists," he said.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

UK to Aussies: We've Changed the Locks

From The (Melbourne, Australia)Age:

UK may abolish ancestry visas

By Annabel Crabb
Age Correspondent
London
October 27, 2005

GRANNY'S British birth certificate may no longer be the ticket to an overseas working holiday for young Australians.

Changes to the British immigration system, under consideration by the Blair Government, may include the abolition of the "ancestry visa" scheme.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Genealogue Exclusive: Google to Launch Genealogy Service

A Genealogue Exclusive [What's That?]
Hot on the heels of Google Print, Google Local, and Google Base comes a new service—this one aimed at online genealogists. With the November launch of Google Link, the Mountain View company hopes to join genetic genealogy with Google's famous search technology.

Obviously a poorly crafted parodyThe project is the brainchild of Google engineer and novice genealogist Matt Scott.

"I got to thinking how much genetic material is out there in the world," said Scott in a telephone interview, "and how great it would be to have that information stored and indexed in one place."

The project will begin with genetic material in the public domain—gathered from used tissues, discarded Starbucks cups, and public telephone receivers—and then will grow to include material voluntarily submitted. Google researchers have worked with geneticists to ensure the integrity of samples, and with private investigators to establish their provenance.

Privacy advocates are already voicing criticism of the Google Link concept. Miriam Leary of the ACLU's Genetic Privacy team envisions a nightmare scenario.

"I would ask every American to consider the possible consequences. Your entire genetic profile will be posted online. Your traits, your hair color, your predisposition to disease will be broadcast to the world. This is 1984 all over again—the book, not the year."

Matt Scott scoffs at the idea that Google Link will be misused.

"This will be a godsend to genealogists looking for cousins, or curious about their genetic origins. I predict that people will be lining up to submit their cheek swabs. And even if they don't, we have ways of making them cooperate."

No Octopussies Found

From the Dundee (Scotland) Evening Telegraph of Oct. 25, 2005:

Scotland had three James Bonds

Top-secret super spies, political heavyweights and soccer legends have all been found in the colourful pages of Scotland’s history, writes Graeme Strachan.


Previously unseen data from the 1861 census, which has been made available for the first time by genealogy website www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk, has found that James Bond, Margaret Curran and George Burley were all alive and well in Victorian Scotland.

The census records showed there were three James Bonds living in 1861 Scotland along with 56 John (Jack) McConnells, 13 Margaret Currans, five George Burleys and 48 Jimmy (James) Calderwoods.

Daniel Craig, who was recently unveiled as the new James Bond, also made 22 appearances in the census and there was one Alex McLeish.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
For those who don't follow the Scottish news as closely as I do, Jack McConnell is First Minister of Scotland, Margaret Curran is Minister for Parliament, George Burley is the recently departed manager of the Heart of Midlothian Football Club, and Jimmy Calderwood is the manager of the Aberdeen "Dons" Football Club. It goes without saying that Alex McLeish is manager of the Rangers Football Club.

My Dad, the Graverobber

From the Greeley (Colo.) Tribune:

Traveling tombstone gets a final resting place

Mike Peters
October 24, 2005

SIX THOUSAND MILES. That's how far "Rosa" traveled during the past 25 years, from New York to California, to rural Weld County and back home again to New York.

"Rosa" is a tombstone. And Rosa is home now.

Will and Linda Piper are the ones who finally brought Rosa home, last month, to the wooded, abandoned cemetery in New York.

[snip]

Will's father, Willis Piper, found the 50-pound "Rosa" tombstone among the remnants of the cemetery and wanted to take it home to California to use in some stone work on his patio.

[snip]

"We hope nobody thinks of my father as a bad person," Will said. "He was a good man who probably didn't really think it was wrong to take the tombstone."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Monday, October 24, 2005

He Brought Just the Clothes on His Back, and . . . Something Else

From Taiwan Headlines:

Middle Eastern heritage doesn't ring a bell with the Dings of today

-- October 24, 2005 --

Yunlin County's Taixi Township has a major distinction: it's home to more people with the Chinese surname "Ding" than any other place in Taiwan. Of the slightly more than 30,000 people in the area, over 10,000 sign their names "Ding."

[snip]

"Ding Su, the ancestor of the Taixi Dings, fled from Fujian's Jinjiang County around the time of the Qianlung Emperor with absolutely nothing. He brought with him only a pair of "eggs" (testicles), which engendered the myriad Dings of Taixi." Retired Taixi Elementary school principal Ding Dongde smiles while recounting the Ding clan's origins.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Where There's a Will, There's a Way Too Many Telephones

From the Minneapolis (Minn.) Star Tribune:

The phone's for you, and you, and you

Bill McAuliffe, Star Tribune

Last update: October 24, 2005

The departed sometimes call in strange ways. Robert Prosser, for example, seems to be doing it by telephone.

Twelve years after Prosser's death, a niece, a nephew and a longtime employee are trying to figure out what to do with his legacy -- a collection of telephones so vast it fills five buildings in his hometown of Turtle Lake, Wis., as well as barns on relatives' farms and corners of their homes.

Thousands of phones. Hundreds of thousands. Maybe a million.

"You count 'em and tell me," said George Pearson, a longtime employee of the Prosser family.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

From Cross-Dressing Rocker to FHC Librarian

From Film Threat:

NEW YORK DOLL

by Phil Hall
(2005-10-25)

2005, Rated PG-13, 78 Minutes, A First Independent Pictures Release

Watching the mild-mannered, seemingly befuddled Arthur Kane sitting quietly in the back of a Los Angeles municipal bus, it is impossible to imagine that this 55-year-old librarian was once among the most influential figures in rock history.

[snip]

When The New York Dolls split in 1975, Kane’s career began its tailspin.

[snip]

Redemption came from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a.k.a. the Mormons. Answering an advertisement, he was visited by missionaries and found his path to salvation. It was a somewhat low-budget path, including a part-time job as a librarian in the church’s Family History Center library, but it was enough to give him the chance to begin anew.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Who's Been Wearing Your Genes?

From the Bangor (Me.) Daily News:

Have a fourth cousin? You share about 58 genes

Monday, October 24, 2005

[by Roxanne Moore Saucier]

Fifty-eight genes.

That's the scientific estimate of how many genes I share through one of my connections with Vice President Hannibal Hamlin, who served during Abraham Lincoln's first term.

I didn't count up these genes by myself, you understand. Geneticist Tom Roderick, a former president of the Maine Genealogical Society, did the calculation, which works for anyone who can find the same relationship to another person.

Let's let Tom explain it:

"Your relationship with the vice president, second cousin four times removed, is one of ninth degree - that is, one-half to the ninth. It happens to be the same relationship as fourth cousins. You share 0.00195 of your genes with him, but if you consider that we as humans have about 30,000 genes, then you share about 58 genes with the former vice president. I wonder which 58 they are?"

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
Degrees of relation between cousins can be figured out by using a table such as this, or (for the mathematically inclined) a simple formula.

Let's have two variables named C ("cousinhood") and R ("generations removed"). The degree of relation equals R + (2*C + 1). L.L. Bean is my fourth cousin (C=4) twice removed (R=2). So, the degree of relation between us is 11. Raise 0.5 to the 11th power, and multiply the result by 30,000 (the approximate number of our genes). The answer is about 14. L.L. Bean and I share 14 genes (which explains my penchant for wearing waterproof boots).1

Here's a cousinhood calculator I whipped up:

1It should be noted that probability is involved in calculating the number of genes shared by siblings or cousins. A parent and child will share 50% of their genes, but two siblings need not share this number. Nevertheless, the law of probability dictates that they will (approximately).

To see why, imagine a card trick in which each of my parents has 30,000 cards to choose from. I am asked to draw 15,000 cards from each deck, mark them, and return them to the deck. Now my brother is asked to do the same. If the cards were well shuffled (randomly distributed), there should be about 15,000 cards that my brother and I drew in common. On the other hand, there is a tiny chance that we selected completely different sets of cards, or sets exactly the same.

The results are similar if two first cousins are asked to each draw 7,500 cards from the 15,000 cards that both of their respective fathers drew from their own father's deck. At best, they will draw the same 7,500 cards; at worse, they will draw none in common. Chances are, they will share about 3,750 cards in common.

It should also be noted that this calculation does not account for the small number of mitochondrial genes passed from mother to child.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Top Ten Genealogy Myths

10. Dick Eastman and Norm Abram are the same guy.

9. Ancestry.com accepts first-born sons as payment.

8. There's someone in Utah not descended from Brigham Young.

7. People who died of "consumption" were morbidly obese.

6. The 1890 census was destroyed in the Civil War.

5. Condemned Salem wizard Giles Corey's last words were, "I'd like to get something off my chest."

4. The folks at Ellis Island changed your great-grandfather's surname from "Smith" to "Szadziewicz."

3. The abbreviation "s.p." means "sexual problems."

2. The Pilgrims went shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

1. Your ancestors were all tolerant, sober, and faithful to their wives.

Town Terrorized by Stocker

From The (Allentown, Pa.) Morning Call of Oct. 23, 2005:

Unsettling situation

Sign honors founder of Stockertown — but it has the wrong guy.


By Arlene Martínez
Of The Morning Call

Traveling south on Sullivan Trail from Plainfield Township in scenic Northampton County is a pleasant drive marked by quaint homes, sprawling fields and small pubs.

Next stop, a small borough welcomes you with a friendly announcement on a historical marker: "Stockertown: Named for First Settler Jonas Stocker. Founded 1774."

Ah yes, Jonas Stocker, the founder of Stockertown, who arrived from— um, and worked as a, uh, well�

[snip]

"History of the Borough of Stockertown" is [Virginia] Lopresti's small, simply published book that is nonetheless considered an authority on the municipality. There is not a single mention of Jonas Stocker in it.

The reason is this: "Jonas Stocker never had anything to do with the founding of Stockertown," Lopresti says.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Mother of Genetealogy

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak (the genealogist so nice they named her twice) dropped me a line yesterday. If the name sounds familiar, glance over at your bookshelf.

Despite her other accomplishments, I think Megan's most lasting contribution will be the coining of "genetealogy." A check of Google shows 9,890 search results for the word. The real mark of success will be when Google stops asking "Did you mean: genealogy?"

Of course, these days giving currency to a coined word requires registering it as a domain name: a requirement Megan has satisfied. Genetealogy.com is her genetic genealogy resource guide, and a place where we all can contribute to her research.

Two online surveys have been completed—on genetealogy participation and the motivations of genealogists. The latter survey produced some interesting results under the heading, "What is the most extreme thing you’ve ever done in the quest for your roots?" My favorite answers:

Got on a plane and flew 3,000 to a reunion where I didn't know anyone.

[D]rove 500 miles to see nothing-- there was no grave!

Crawled through a cemetery in the dark with my cousin looking for unmarked graves.

Thinking about exhuming my father for a DNA test.

Used a manual microfilm reader for 10 straight hours with both wrists in medically applied splints.
The current survey is on the Impact of the Internet and DNA Testing, and will take just a few minutes of your time. Even less if you don't what "DNA testing" means.

Man Re-invents Spam

From The Decatur (Ala.) Daily of Oct. 21, 2005:

Quilting a family legacy

Heirloom, technology helping man piece together his family background


By Holly Hollman
DAILY Staff Writer

Bill Carwile's pursuit of family history is akin to the 157-year-old quilt his mother's family has handed down.

With patches of information, the Decatur resident pieces together his genealogical background.

[snip]

Sometimes, Carwile finds information by accident, and then his research pays off. Once when he tried to e-mail his niece and mistyped her e-mail address, his e-mail went to a Carwile in California. Turns out, she is a distant relative.

[Read the whole story]

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Catchiest Census Jingle Ever

From asahi.com (of Tokyo, Japan):

Nosy national census could use a makeover

10/22/2005

With some people burning their census forms and numerous census takers begging to be taken off duty, the government had a tough time conducting a nationwide census this year-a process that occurs every five years.

[snip]

A "collection of promotional jingles" came out at the time of the first census in 1920.

One jingle went: "As the census day draws near, try to refrain from travel/Watch out for a fire, don't catch a contagious disease/Any mishap could seriously derail the census-taking."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Trotsky Better Watch His Back

From newKerala.com (of India), posted Oct. 21, 2005:

Lenin, Stalin, Gorbachev to meet in Moscow here tomorrow

Thiruvananthapuram: A bus from here is all set to embark to Moscow with Stalin, Lenin, Gorbachev, Gagarin and Tereshkova among the passengers.

However, the reality is far simpler. It is not the Russian capital the bus leaves for but a small village at Kottayam near Changannasery, where it is not these Russian legends but their local namesakes, who will congregate to observe the 80th anniversary celebrations of the Russian Centre for Co-Operation with Foreign Countries (Razaruzhcentr).

[snip]

Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Keralities are partial to such names, [Ratheesh C.] Nair said, noting that the state possesses a large number of people having names of famous Soviet and Russian politicians and literary figures.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

They Were Older and Taller Than You Think

It is the mission of The Genealogue to explode old and tired myths and replace them with new and more interesting myths. Plimoth Plantation's Myth and Reality articles—mentioned today by Dick Eastman—fit my requirements so well that only pesky copyright restrictions prevent me from passing them off as my own.

In Dead at Forty, Plantation Research Manager Carolyn Freeman Travers explains why an ancestress of mine bore twenty children, and yet lived past 103 years. As it turns out, not everyone in olden days died on their 40th birthday.

Were They All Shorter Back Then? deals with the myth of the diminutive colonists. As it turns out, they in no way resembled Hobbits.

A recommendation for future myth-busting: The claim that colonial parents were resigned to the fact of infant mortality, and accepted a child's death without the emotional trauma witnessed today.

Oh yeah, and also the rumor floating around that the Pilgrims were cannibals.

Ghosts Long in Tooth, Short on Details

From the Exeter (N.H.) News-Letter of Oct. 21, 2005:

Tracking down those taciturn ghosts: Lots of old houses

Barbara Rimkunas

One of the many services we offer at the Exeter Historical Society is assistance with house research. We can't always track down everything about a house, but we are at least familiar with the resources available for researchers.

It can be a very thrilling task as we trace the owners back through time with directory entries or bits and pieces of information gleaned from newspaper accounts. But at least two or three times a year I get a client who is interested in more than just a house's history.

"I want to know if anyone died in my house," is the usual inquiry that sends up a red flag.

[snip]

Why do the ghosts never recall their own last names? They love to tell the mediums their first names: "Charles," "Sarah," "James," or any number of names our early ancestors used over and over, sometimes within a single generation, but they never say "Oh, and my surname was Gilman and I lived in the 1700s." It would be so helpful if they would.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Top Ten Signs Your Genealogy is Incorrect

10. All of your ancestors died childless.

9. The WorldConnect Project turned down your GEDCOM file.

8. Your published family history is dedicated to Gustave Anjou.

7. Liberace was your grandfather.

6. You retroactively applied China's "One Child Only" policy to your family.

5. You're descended from the black Mayflower passenger.

4. You consulted TV psychic John Edward to "fill in some details."

3. The guy who tested your DNA also cleans carpets.

2. You're Alex Haley.

1. Everyone spoke Korean at the family reunion but you.

Evidence that Rural America is Disappearing

From The Boston (Mass.) Globe:

Missing: Lot 38

By Bruce Mohl, Globe Staff | October 9, 2005

IPSWICH -- Michael Kosinski remembers as a teenager driving with his father to look at 2 acres of land his family had purchased west of town. His memories of that trip include turning off at the Clam Box restaurant on High Street and a road covered with shells.

Today, 35 years later, Kosinski is again looking for that land, but this time no one knows where to find it. His father and mother have both passed away, and the town of Ipswich, which once owned the land and has been collecting taxes on it for the past 50 years, can't locate it.

"The lot exists," said Frank Ragonese, the Ipswich tax assessor. "It just can't be pinpointed."

How does a 2-acre parcel of land just disappear?

[snip]

. . . Ragonese, while sympathetic to Kosinski's position, said it's not the town's responsibility. "As the owner of the property, he should be telling us where it is," he said.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]


[Hat tip: Genealogy Blog]

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Yes, But What Color Were His Pants?

From The Albuquerque (N.M.) Tribune:

For 1890 special census, it's good to be at the end of the alphabet

By Mary Penner
Tribune Online Columnist
October 20, 2005

Consider yourself lucky if your Civil War veteran ancestor lived in a state that begins with the letters K-W. Actually, Kansans fall into the unlucky category while half of the Kentuckians lucked out. What's lucky about the K-W states?

Most of the 1890 special veteran's census schedules exist for the second-half of the alphabet states, while schedules for the first-half of the alphabet states appear to have gone hopelessly missing.

[snip]

Keep in mind that this census was taken 35 years after the end of the war.

Memories had faded and not all of the data is accurate. The only thing the widow of Jacob Watson could remember about her husband's service was that he wore a "blue coat."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Is Lake Wobegon on the Itinerary?

From the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune of Oct. 20, 2005:

Norway's crown prince visits Minnesota

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS - Crown Prince Haakon could have thought he was back home in Norway.

[snip]

Haakon, 32, celebrated the 100th anniversary of Norway's independence from Sweden with a series of cultural and business appearances Wednesday and Thursday in a state that treasures its Nordic heritage.

[snip]

The lives of Norwegian-American immigrants were marked by hardship, suffering and endless work, sustained by their Lutheran faith and their sense of community.

Minnesota House Speaker Sviggum and Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson - both of Norwegian descent - see an echo of that in the modern stereotype of the stoic Minnesotan.

"I only look at my mother-in-law and my mother and grandmother," Sviggum said. "Whether they were overly happy, or suffering pain in their life, you could barely tell the difference."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Jennifer Hitler Has the Same Problem

From The Asian Age of Oct. 20, 2005:

Youngsters say no to their surnames

- By Christina Francis

Hyderabad: What's in a name? Well, everything. At least that's what youngsters believe. Gone are the days when only a Madonna or a Kajol would use only their first names fully confident of the fact that their names were instantly recognisable.

More and more young people have jumped on the single-name bandwagon. Many youngsters seem pretty comfortable with their first names and don't think twice before chucking their surnames or trading longer names for shorter ones.

[snip]

Interestingly, Carmen Bin Laden, Osama Bin Laden's sister-in-law, chooses to keep her dubious surname even after her divorce. She takes pains to inform airport authorities in advance about her travel plans because every security alert goes off each time her name flashes. If she can hang on to her politically very incorrect surname, wonder why youngsters are so hard on their presumably less notorious fathers.

[Read the whole story]

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Killed with Kindness

From The (Glasgow, Scotland) Herald of Oct. 19, 2005:

Water works

[by KEN SMITH and DAVID BELCHER]

EDINBURGH makes it into Nigel Rees's book I Told You I Was Sick which is an anthology of graveyard epitaphs. The author says, although he has not seen it himself, that there is a gravestone there which states:
Erected to the memory
of John MacFarlane
Drowned in the Water
of Leith By a few affectionate friends
[Read the whole story]
I Told You I Was Sick: A Grave Book of Curious Epitaphs will be released Nov. 28.

Sean Connery's Kilt Confiscated

From Scotsman.com of Oct. 18, 2005:

Most famous living Scot 'is an Irishman'

SIR Sean Connery, probably the most famous Scotsman alive today, is in fact Irish, according to new research.

His great grandfather was a tinker from Wexford, the research released today shows.

Ironically the Irish accent he used in the 1987 film the Untouchables playing Chicago cop Jim Malone was voted the worst accent of all time in a poll.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Essential Sites: NewEnglandAncestors.org

I have a love-hate relationship with NewEnglandAncestors.org. As a gateway to the resources of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the website is essential to my work. But when using the site, I feel that I've stumbled into the The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919.

Anyone with early New England roots will find the website useful, especially those with Massachusetts connections. The database of digitized Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910 would alone be worth the price of admission for many (the index is complete, with available page images as recent as 1880). Members also get the The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 1847-1994, as well as print subscriptions to the Register and the glossy New England Ancestors. Subscription Members ($60/year) get these periodicals and a few other perks. Research Members ($75/year) get the same, plus access to the Society's Research Library in Boston and to the New EnglandAncestors.org website. (See the website for other membership benefits and levels, including a substantial student discount.)

The Research Membership offer has gotten sweeter lately, with access granted to two "collaborate websites": Early American Newspapers, 1690-1876 (with bonus access to recent electronic editions of Massachusetts newspapers), and HeritageQuest Online.

Two problems with NewEnglandAncestors.org should be mentioned. The Master Search feature is somewhat clumsy, and doesn't include three major databases: Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910, the Social Security Death Index, or Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850. Each of these must be searched independently.

Even more frustrating is the speed of the website. Some searches take an eternity to complete. The Vital Records database comes with a warning attached: "Please refrain from using the forums for comments about the speed of downloading images or search results." Members with only dial-up Internet access may find time to finish an epic novel between page views.

Nevertheless, with the recent addition of HeritageQuest Online (census images, family and local history books, PERSI database, Revolutionary War pensions, etc.), NewEnglandAncestors.org is now unquestionably worth the cost of joining, if only for a year.

Update (Nov. 19, 2005): The website seems to have sped up a bit in the past few weeks. A new membership benefit has also recently been added: access to the Digital Sanborn Maps, 1867-1970, for New England, New Jersey, and New York.

Censuswhacking for Halloween

Time again to search the 1880 U.S. census for strange and unique names—this time with a Halloween theme.

It's a little known fact that parents in 1880 would buy all their Halloween treats from the local Candy Miner. The Miner would roam the streets of town, chanting "Candy Candy!"

In one particular town, the residents considered anything Sweet Good, and the Miner was considered an especially Sweet Guy. That is until they found out he was making Sweet Luv to all the neighborhood women.

The Candy Miner thought his Halloween would be Trick Free, but one angry husband thought otherwise. Demon Deville caught him in an alley, and strangled him with a licorice whip.

Sweet Justice.

By the way, am I the only one who finds Mary Kate Scarey? Well, I'll now be returning to my Sofa Haunt

They Paid for a Single

From the Monterey County (Calif.) Herald of Oct. 19, 2005:

$40,000 award in cemetery lawsuit

By JULIANA BARBASSA

Associated Press

FRESNO - A Hmong family was awarded more than $40,000 Tuesday in a suit charging a local cemetery with burying their matriarch in a grave that already contained someone else's bones -- a repulsive finding family members said was an affront to their religious beliefs.

[snip]

Xia Yang's family had paid $1,914.38 for a plot at Mountain View cemetery in 2003. When they were shoveling dirt over the grave, following three days and three nights of a traditional funeral, they saw bones and two rusty casket handles in the dirt.

[Read the whole story]

Dunking 'Do Nots' Denied

From Salt Lake City (Utah) Weekly of Oct. 20, 2005:

Font of Frustration

After years of prodding the LDS Church over its baptismal records, Helen Radkey alleges she’s been locked out of the church database.


by Jamie Gadette

Just call Helen Radkey obsessed.

The local independent researcher spent the greater part of 11 years monitoring The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ baptismal records for names of Jewish Holocaust victims, survivors and famous Jews. During that period, she found evidence that church officials have repeatedly broken and renewed promises to stop “dunking,” or subjecting the names of deceased Jews to the Mormon practice of baptizing the dead.

[snip]

This May, Radkey discovered that, among other prominent figures, Anne Frank is still on record for posthumous cleansing under God. Then, shortly afterward, Radkey alleges she was blocked from accessing the LDS Church’s database of posthumous baptisms, the International Genealogical Index (IGI). Prior to the alleged lockout, however, she collected evidence supporting claims that, when it comes to respecting Jewish requests, the LDS Church is all talk.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ashes to Auction, Dust to Dust

From The (Waterville, Me.) Morning Sentinel of Oct. 18, 2005:

Auction yields human remains

By LARRY GRARD
Staff Writer

SKOWHEGAN -- A former undertaker, Annie Rooney knew exactly what she was looking at when she opened a Chinese ginger jar she had purchased a year ago, at an auction.

A plastic jar inside the ornate blue jar was filled with something, Rooney already knew, judging by its weight. But it wasn't sand, as she had assumed. No, what Rooney had purchased as part of an auction "box lot" -- a group of odds and ends that auctioneers typically sell in a box -- were human remains.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
The second human-remains-auction story of the afternoon. Some days my job is really easy.

Civil War Soldier For Sale, As Is

From The Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph:

Group wants bones buried

By DAVID BROOKS, Telegraph Staff
brooksd@telegraph-nh.com

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2005

Bones from a Civil War gravesite that had been offered for sale should receive a military funeral, a leader of a Civil War re-enactment group said Monday. But the owner of the bones would not say what will happen to them, calling them “private property.”

The bones, included in the catalog of a Milford auction house for a sale Sunday in Bedford, were withdrawn from the sale amid complaints from Civil War hobbyists, veterans and state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte.

[snip]

[T]he auction catalog clearly identified the items from a Virginia gravesite, apparently belonging to a Union soldier from New York, as “three sections of human lower jawbone with 11 teeth in place and two loose teeth as well as two small bones perhaps from hand or foot.”

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Study: SOBs Don't Die Young

From AScribe Newswire:

Do Your Initials Spell Earlier Death? New Pomona College Study Contradicts Earlier Findings

CLAREMONT, Calif., Oct. 18 (AScribe Newswire) -- A new study by Stilian Morrison '05 and Professor Gary Smith has found that initials have no connection to mortality, contradicting earlier evidence that having a "bad" monogram, such as PIG or ZIT, makes one more likely to die at a younger age than someone blessed with initials such as ACE or VIP.

The original 1999 study, reported in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, had found that males with positive initials lived 4.5 years longer than a control group of males with neutral initials, while males with negative initials lived 2.8 fewer years. The earlier study also found that females with positive initials lived 3.4 more years than those in the neutral group.

[snip]

Morrison and Smith asked a group of students, faculty and friends to rank the initials that they would be most happy and least happy to have. The top positive initials were ACE, ICE, JOY, VIP, CEO, GEM, FLY, FOX, HIP, WIT and WIN. The top negative initials included KKK, DIE, ZIT, PIG, DUM, RAT, SOB, GAS, BAD, HOR, BUM and SIN.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Beware of Angry Ancestors

From the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Tribune-Review:

Wiccans turn witch myths upside down

By Kim Lyons
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

She does get the occasional person looking to cast a spell to turn her ex into a toad, but for the most part, Amy Mokricky's Wicca students are looking for a balanced religious path, with spells and magic only a small part of the picture.

[snip]

Now, as the days shorten and the harvest season comes to a close, Wiccans and witches celebrate Samhain, the time on the calendar when contact with ancestors and the recently departed is most likely.

"The whole idea of trick-or-treating, of scaring off the ghosts and goblins probably came from the thought of confronting ancestors who might not be too happy with us," Mokricky said.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Cher and Madonna Would Feel Right at Home

From The (Calcutta, India) Telegraph:

Slash surname to kill caste

POORNIMA JOSHI

New Delhi, Oct. 14: The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) is set to recommend a Constitution amendment to abolish Hindu surnames because they denote caste.

By this radical move, the commission wants to articulate the demand for abolition of the caste system.The drive reflects the stirrings of discontent within the government and outside more than 50 years after the Constitution abolished untouchability.

[snip]

If the amendment comes through, surnames such as Mukherjee, Banerjee, Sharma and Yadav run the risk of being outlawed.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Monday, October 17, 2005

Maybe You Can Take It With You

From the (State College, Pa.) Centre Daily Times of Oct. 17, 2005:

History buffs to put the past in front of them at conference

By Rich Kerstetter

rkerstet@centredaily.com

Genealogy can be an addiction, the late historian J. Marvin Lee warned. Don't let it interfere with your family.

Lee gave that bit of ironic advice to Vonnie Henninger, who oversees the genealogy collection at the Penns Valley Historical Museum in Aaronsburg.

And to illustrate his point, Lee told of a Centre Hall researcher who had died. When Lee inquired about her records, he was told that the woman's husband was so angry about all the time his wife had spent working on genealogy that he buried her books with her.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Genealogue Exclusive: Grim Evidence Found in Plymouth

A Genealogue Exclusive [What's That?]
Recent archaeological excavations on Cole's Hill in Plymouth, Mass., have turned up the bones of several Pilgrims, and have raised unsettling questions about how the early settlement there survived.

Team leader Stephen Holman of Taunton University was the first to inspect the bones.

"The first skeleton we found—we call him 'Edward Tilley' in the lab—was mostly complete but disarticulated, and the ribs and long bones bore unusual markings. It looked like something, or someone, had gnawed on them. The joints showed signs of deliberate butchering, perhaps with a hatchet."

Subsequent exhumations confirmed Holman's suspicions.

These findings call into question the accepted history of the Pilgrim's first winter of 1620-21, including accounts written by the Pilgrims themselves. In none of these works is there any mention of cannibalism—a fact which does not surprise anthropologist Mary Donner, also of Taunton University.

"Cannibalism is not something the Pilgrims would have been proud of, and it's not something the company's investors would have been thrilled to hear about. It's entirely likely that the colonists swore an oath never to speak of it. Call it the second Mayflower Compact."

Officers of the Society of Mayflower Descendants could not be reached for comment, but one long-time member wondered how this news would affect her membership.

"If my ancestor ate another Pilgrim," asked Dolores Bisbee of Wareham, "can I claim descent from both?"

Jesus is Just All Right With the Germans

From The Arizona Republic:

German 'name police' active

Authorities ban kookie, complex names for kids


Mary Jacoby
Wall Street Journal
Oct. 15, 2005 12:00 AM

LUXEMBOURG - Young Leonhard Matthias Grunkin-Paul has a problem: His name is illegal.

The German boy's divorced parents want Leonhard to be known by their combined last names, an increasingly common practice elsewhere. But authorities in Germany, citing a law against hyphens, have refused to allow it. So Leonhard, born in 1998, officially has no last name at all.

[snip]

A Dusseldorf court in 1998 rejected the name Chenekwahow Migiskau Nikapi-Hun-Nizeo Alessandro Majim Chayara Inti Ernesto Prithibi Kioma Pathar Henriko, on the grounds that the mother's wish to honor multiculturalism shouldn't result in an awkwardly long name for the child. A Frankfurt court upheld the name Jesus the same year, in part because it's widely known that Christ was male, leaving little room for gender confusion.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Top Ten Genealogy Websites of 2050

10. Cyndi's Granddaughter's List

9. The Ancestry of President Mary-Kate Olsen

8. Find a Grave on K-PAX

7. The National Archives of Amerimexicanada

6. Iraq War Service Records, 2003-2038

5. The Bill Clinton Memorial DNA Registry

4. Baptismal Records of the Church of the FSM

3. MutantCloneGenealogy.com

2. Daughters of the American Sexual Revolution

1. Ancestry.gov

Man Shows Niece All the Gruesome Sights

From Sun.Star Zamboanga (Philippines) of Oct. 15, 2005:

German lady finds long lost uncle

SHE finally found her long lost uncle in the Philippines, and of all places, it is here in Zamboanga City.

Gudrum Albrecht, 47, arrived in the city last October 3 on invitation of her uncle, Robert Albrecht Jr., and will spend her 13-day stay here, the period allowed her by the government.

[snip]

Gudrum, who hails from Stuttgart, Germany, said she discovered Roy (Robert's nickname) address through the Internet only this year -- although Roy posted it in the web-site in 2001, according to her.

[snip]

"She is a brave girl. She is not afraid to visit the place of the Abu Sayyaf," Roy said. Basilan is known worldwide as the birthplace of the radical extremist group linked to the al-Qaeda terror network.

"I brought her to Bulingan (barangay) where she loves the beautiful waterfalls Lo-ok and Balobo (in Lamitan), the place where the beheading by the Abu Sayyaf of innocent civilians took place," Roy said. He said his niece enjoyed going to market in Kaumpournah, Isabella City, "just to buy coffee," Roy related.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

The Wages of Evil: $7 - 10

From the Victoria (B.C.) Times Colonist:

Tseycum band finds remains of ancestors in U.S. museums

Rob Shaw
Times Colonist

Sunday, October 16, 2005

It was a sight that left Cora Jacks in tears -- her ancestors' bones from North Saanich lying on the stark warehouse shelves of two of America's most prominent museums.

They were more than skulls and skeletons to Jacks; they were thousands of years of spiritual history tying together the Tseycum First Nation. They had been missing since the 1850s, when American archeologists looted grave sites around the Saanich Peninsula.

[snip]

About 57 sets of bones were identified in New York using the museum's collection of letters and photos from the archeologist who originally took the bodies. Jacks brought local maps and matched up the sites to determine they were from North Saanich.

But the letters also provided a disturbing look into the past. They revealed the archeologist was paid $5 a skull and between $7-10 to steal an entire First Nations skeleton from its burial site, said Smith.

[Read the whole story]

Blame the Great-Grandparents

From the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel:

Counselor uses biblical lessons about 'generational sin'

Critics argue that the approach lets people off the hook for their own lives.


By Shawna Gamache | Religion News Service
Posted October 15, 2005

Struggling with alcoholism? A failing marriage? An abusive personality? Psychologists might say you can blame Dad, Grandpa or someone even further back for your personal problems.

Familial patterns of behavioral or emotional issues are a key part of modern psychology, but one counselor and author says the theory is older than most experts think, and she has the biblical verses to prove it.

Beverly Hubble Tauke, a licensed clinical social worker in Fairfax, Va., grounds her sessions in the scriptural lessons of "generational sin," the belief -- particularly prevalent among some evangelical and conservative Christians -- that sins committed by one generation will be repeated in the next three.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Democrat Gets Last Laugh

From The Chicago (Ill.) Tribune of Oct. 10, 2005:

Theodore Roosevelt Heller, 88, loving father of Charles (Joann) Heller; dear brother of the late Sonya (the late Jack) Steinberg. Ted was discharged from the U.S. Army during WWII due to service related injuries, and then forced his way back into the Illinois National Guard insisting no one tells him when to serve his country. Graveside services Tuesday 11 a.m. at Waldheim Jewish Cemetery (Ziditshover section), 1700 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago. In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republicans. [emphasis added]
[Hat tip: BoingBoing]

New Jersey Town Finds Something to Boast Of

From The (Allentown, N.J.) Examiner of Oct. 13, 2005:

U.F. boasts ties to U.S. presidents

UPPER FREEHOLD — While it is fairly well-known that one U.S. president had ancestors in the township, a link to a later chief executive is less publicized.

[snip]

According to [Thomas] Frascella's research, "A William Ansley, [who] was born in Monmouth between 1710-1715 and died in 1773 in Upper Freehold, married Rebecca before 1737 in Upper Freehold. Rebecca was born in Middletown in 1715 and died in the 1750s."

According to Frascella, William and Rebecca were the great-great-great-great-great-grandparents of [Jimmy] Carter, the 39th president of the United States.

[snip]

In 2001, [John] Fabiano told the Examiner that the name Abraham was common in the Lincoln genealogy, and that the original Abraham Lincoln came from England and established the first iron forge in Massachusetts in the 1600s. Several decades later, Richard Saltar, who was establishing his own iron forge, brought Lincoln's grandsons, Mordecai and Abraham, to the Imlaystown area of Upper Freehold in 1714.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
According to Waldo Lincoln's History of the Lincoln family (Worcester, Mass.: Commonwealth Press, 1923)—and every other available source—President Lincoln's immigrant ancestor was Samuel Lincoln of Hingham, Mass., a weaver and mariner [p. 6]. "Abraham" was first used in the family in January 1688/89, when a son was born to Mordecai and Sarah (Jones) Lincoln and named for his maternal grandfather [p. 21]. It was Mordecai, son of the immigrant, who was proprietor of an iron works, though as Waldo Lincoln notes, "Probably the good old name 'blacksmith' more accurately descibes him" [p. 16].

Nor was his the first iron forge in Massachusetts. An iron works was operating on the Saugus River north of Boston as early as 1646—eleven years prior to Mordecai's birth.

Genealogy.com has the Ancestry of Abraham Lincoln.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Evidence of Intelligent Design?

From the Battle Creek (Mich.) Enquirer of Oct. 11, 2005:

Tilled soil yields missing headstone of 3-year-old

Sarah Chuby
The Enquirer

While Millie Goodson cleaned out her flower garden, she stumbled across a stubborn rock.

After she couldn't pull it out of the ground, she started to dig out the earth around it.

On that spring 2003 day, Goodson dug deeper and deeper into the soil to fish out what looked to be a long stone.

And then she used her gardening hoe to retrieve the dirty 35-pound marble slab.

"I brought it in the house and washed it off," she said. "I would have left it outside, but the top of it was oval shaped, so I had a feeling of what it was."

After she cleaned it off, the words "Mary," "March 21, 1871" and "3 years" became legible.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

The Man Who Hosed Ol' Dixie Down

From the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch:

A plug for Richmond's first baths

Marker recalls the man who got Richmond clean behind the ears


BY PETE HUMES
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

Oct 11, 2005

[snip]

In 1909, John Patteson Branch built the city's first municipal bathhouse at 1801 E. Broad St. Branch, a civic-minded member of the banking establishment, donated the building at the peak of an obsession among Americans with personal hygiene and public health.

[snip]

Nearly a century after it opened, Branch's great-great-grandson unveiled a state Historical Highway Marker at the Branch Public Baths. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources posts the metal signs with black lettering on roadsides around the state to acknowledge notable bits of history.

[snip]

Attendees were treated to a bar of soap and an embroidered towel and were serenaded by an a cappella quartet, The Focus Group, in honor of a group of harmonizers who frequented the baths.

[snip]

The idea to publicly acknowledge his great-great-grandfather came after intensive family research that Dotts called a "voyage of discovery."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Posh Pop Star Proud of Pillaging Progenitors

From The (London, U.K.) Sun Online of Oct. 12, 2005:

Blunt: I'm Bayeux-tiful

By MARTEL MAXWELL
and ELISE JENKINS

POSH singer James Blunt has revealed he is related to Danish royalty — and that his ancestors fought at the Battle of Hastings.

[snip]

Blue-blooded James, 28, who attended Harrow private school, is a descendant of Viking Gorm the Old, who ruled Denmark in the middle of the tenth century.

He said: “I’m related to King Gorm the Old — and my ancestors left Denmark in 1066 to fight in the battle of Hastings. Our family name was Blond.”

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

National Archives Starting DNA Database?

From The Washington (D.C.) Post:

Discover for Yourself

Sunday, October 9, 2005; Page D08

You may be off school tomorrow to mark Columbus Day. . . . Why not celebrate the most famous "Coming to America" with activities that celebrate the "coming to America" of millions of immigrant families?

The National Archives is hosting fun family activities from noon to 4 p.m. Make a map showing where everyone in your family lives, trace your family tree, design a quilt square that tells your family's story, even see and keep a sample of your own DNA!

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
A sample of my own DNA? Can't I collect that without driving to Washington?

The Real New York Yankees

From The New York (N.Y.) Sun:

A New England Institution
Knickerbocker


By GARY SHAPIRO
October 11, 2005

In its early years, the New England Society in the city of New York provided firewood to New Englanders living in New York City who were in need of assistance during the winter months. "Of course, we don't do that anymore," a member of the board of directors, Scott Glascock, told the Knickerbocker. The society does, however, provide substantial scholarships to New York City students attending New England colleges and universities. To qualify for admittance, members must be born or attended school in New England, have New England ancestry, or lived in New England for an appreciable amount of time.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Genealogue News Flash: Nobel Prize for Genealogy Awarded

A Genealogue News Flash [What's That?]
An elderly man from rural New England has been awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize for Genealogy. Harley Millett received the news from Stockholm early Tuesday morning at his home in Anson, Maine.

"I tell you, I was surprised," Millett told The Genealogue. "Never even knew I was entered in a contest. Never knew there was a contest."

Millett is credited with advancing the study of genealogy through a practice that has become known as "Ancestor Hoarding," or "The Millett Method." It began when Millett became interested in his family's history, soon after his retirement in 1983.

"Problem was, my mother's people were all buried up to Aroostook County, and my father's folks are right here in town," Millett explained. "I figured I'd just as soon visit 'em all at once as one at a time."

Millett purchased a large piece of land in Anson to accommodate his relatives, drew a large family tree on the ground with orange spray paint, and started digging up, transporting, and reinterring the remains of his forebears, each in the appropriate spot.

"There's my folks over near the fence," Millett said, proudly pointing out the position of each grave. "My grandparents are next, then their folks. Makes it wicked easy to keep track of your lines, this way."

In all, Millett has collected 73 of his direct ancestors in this Maine field. At age 87, he is still looking for more. And he is hoping the Nobel Prize comes with a cash award.

"I've got a line on a great-great-great-grandmother down in Watertown, Mass. I sure could use a couple hundred bucks to rent a U-Haul."

Monday, October 10, 2005

Census Taker Takes Leave of His Census

From The (Tokyo, Japan) Daily Yomiuri of Oct. 10, 2005:

Census taker burned forms over lack of cooperation

The Yomiuri Shimbun

A census taker from Bando, Ibaraki Prefecture, burned census forms after reportedly becoming angry with uncooperative people, according to the prefectural government.

[snip]

"I can't deal with people who live in apartments. Can I just burn all the forms?" he reportedly said in a phone call to city hall.

Two officials of the municipal government tried to visit his house, but mistakenly went to the address of another census taker with the same surname.

The man called city hall again and said, "You didn't come, so I burned the forms."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Genealogue Caption Contest

I was a little disturbed last night to find this thumbnailed image at the top of Google search results for the word "graveyard." (Shield your eyes, then click for a larger image.)

Some possible captions:
  • "Iowa genealogist attempts new gravestone-rubbing technique"
  • "Oh Calcutta! revival at local cemetery flops"
  • "Mourner arrives late to Madonna's funeral"

Any other suggestions? (Double-entendres are welcome. Single-entendres will be deleted.)

For These Dead Folks, Every Day is Earth Day

From The (London, U.K.) Sunday Times of Oct. 9, 2005:

Farmers targeted in hunt for green graves

Richard Oakley

MORE people than ever want to take their environmental concerns with them to the grave — quite literally. As a result, Irish landowners are being asked to provide plots for the country’s first-ever environmentally friendly burial sites.

[snip]

[Judith] Hoad, a herbalist and writer whose husband lies beneath an apple tree in her garden in Inver in Co Donegal, said: “Natural burials are a greener, more environmentally friendly form of departure from the earth. A site of land is made available and it can be privately owned or run by a council. It can be woodland or a nature conservation area or just a field or wild garden. There are trees and bushes, wildlife and fauna rather than gravestones, flower arrangements, gravel and mowed lawns.

People use eco-friendly coffins that allow their bodies to join the food chain as compost and feed other living things.”

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
Aren't there some baby seals we should save before we start worrying about the gravestones littering our countrysides?

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