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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

President Proposes Tax Break for Genealogists

A Genealogue News Flash [What's That?]
In his State of the Union address this evening, President Bush proposed changes to the tax code that would benefit the nation's family historians.

"These people," said the President, "work hard. It's hard work genealogic. . .alizing, and it's time that we recognize the sacrifices they make every day."

If approved by Congress, Bush's plan would make genealogical expenses such as database subscriptions and microfilm rental fees tax-deductible, and would allow genealogists to claim their deceased ancestors as dependents.

At one point in the speech, President Bush gestured toward a woman seated beside the First Lady.

"Up there in the gallery is a lady named Millie Newman. She's a genealogist from Clarkdale, Arizona. Millie wrote me a letter . . . said she spends $2,000 a year researching her family history. One day her daughter—five years old—comes up to her and asks why they only eat two meals a day. Millie had to tell her daughter they couldn't afford breakfast because of the high price of photocopies. That's just not right, and it shouldn't happen in America."

The plan was immediately attacked by Democrats, who accused the President of kowtowing to lobbyists in the genealogy industry.

"It's the same old story," said Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). "This is just like when he gave Ancestry.com a no-bid contract to rebuild the 1890 census."

Top Ten Worst Ways to Celebrate Black History Month

10. Invite Maya Angelou over for karaoke.

9. Watch reruns of Good Times and take a drink every time J.J. says "Dyn-o-mite!"

8. Translate the "I Have a Dream" speech into Klingonese.

7. Rent all the movies starring that famous African-American actress Charlize Theron.

6. Rename the path from your couch to the refrigerator "Martin Luther King Boulevard."

5. Erect a monument to Bryant Gumbel's ego.

4. Search out your closest childhood friend, and then spit in her water like Kizzy did in Roots.

3. Follow George Washington Carver's lead and build an iPod using nothing but peanuts.

2. Make a donation to NASCAR—you know, the civil rights organization.

1. Have your kids play "Underground Railroad" in the crawlspace.

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Dick Cheney's Long-Lost Cousin

From The Washington (D.C.) Post:

Utah Town Has Question About President: 'What's Not to Like?'

By David Finkel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 31, 2006; A01

RANDOLPH, Utah -- To get to the place where they like George W. Bush more than any other place in America, you fly west for a long time from Washington, then you drive north for a long time from Salt Lake City, and then you pull into Gator's Drive Inn, where the customer at the front of the line is ordering a patty melt.

[snip]

"Hey, Aaron," [restaurant owner Pat] Orton says, and in comes a young man who is 16, and who is considered one of Rich County's three African Americans even though he considers himself a mix of a white mother and black father.

He spells his last name: "C-H-E-N-E-Y."

"Yeah," he says. "Distant relatives." His grandmother did the genealogy and explained the connection. He has no idea if it's true, he says -- but even if it is, the reason he likes Bush has less to do with that than with his mother's decision to come to Randolph when he was 8 years old.

"I enjoy pushing cows, chasing girls and shooting guns," he says of who he has become here.

Also: "I'm a Republican."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
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98-Year-Old Man Turns 100 Next Month

From The Bismarck (N. D.) Tribune:

Bismarck man finds he's a little older than he thought

The Associated Press - Monday, January 30, 2006

BISMARCK, N.D. — Leo Goll Sr. found out he's older than he thought.

Goll was set to celebrate his 99th birthday next month. But his niece recently stumbled upon family information that verified that Goll will be 100 on Feb. 19.

"My niece got a hold of the Bible my folks had," Goll said. "All the children were listed, and it said I was born in 1906 instead of 1907."

[snip]

"It doesn't feel that good to find out you're a year older," Goll said. "I would've much rather found out I was a year younger."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
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Good Things Come in Small Packages

From The (Madison, Wisc.) Capital Times of Jan. 31, 2006:

When cremains remain unclaimed

By Mary Bergin

[snip]

State law requires a funeral home to keep cremains for 60 days; they then can be placed in a grave, niche, crypt or disposed of "in any other lawful manner." The crematory, not the funeral home, is legally obligated to keep a record of who is cremated, when and to whom the cremains are delivered.

So there is nothing, outside of conscience and reputation, to stop a funeral home from flushing the unclaimed human ashes that it receives. But both are big considerations.

"To us, these are people, even though they are in small containers," [Cress Funeral and Cremation Service president Bill] Cress says. "I don't care if some were homeless, or considered despicable."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
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Sorry If I'm Being Impolitic

Think you're related to Millard Fillmore? Then Political Family Tree might be the site for you.

I say "might be" because I'm not willing to fork over $29.95 to find out. For that subscription price, the site offers genealogies and biographies of "all U.S. Presidents, all U.S. Vice Presidents, and all Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and U.S. Constitution." They're beginning to add pedigrees of colonial and state governors, and promise "hundreds of other genealogies."

The family trees and biographies are given as PDF files, so you'll need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed. Based on the samples provided, the subscription price seems steep for the information offered (it goes up to $34.95 after Presidents' Day). Only paternal lines are traced "back to the boat," and even then with scant detail. Descending lines are not traced. No sources are cited, listed, or hinted at.

The pedigrees are useful in showing the genetic relationships that existed between the leading colonial families, but for anyone hoping to flesh out a family history will prove insufficient. Most of these families are well documented in print (families with illustrious members generally are), so a trip to a library with a good genealogy collection should be first on the to-do list.

Put "Subscribe to Political Family Tree" further down on the list—right below "Clean the gutters."

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Dead Air

Dave at OakvilleBlackWalnut blogged today about a newspaper article mentioning "that obituaries are read over the air on a rural radio station" in Missouri.

This led me to KCRW—a Public Radio station in Santa Monica, California, that broadcasts Final Curtain once a month.

Interesting people die every day -- some we've heard of, some we haven't. And every newspaper has an obituary page to chronicle these passings. There's been nothing like the Obit Page on radio or TV -- until now.

KCRW (89.9 FM and KCRW.com) launches what's believed to be a broadcast first: Final Curtain, a monthly half-hour obituary program. It will air the first Tuesday of every month.

Produced and hosted by Perri Chasin and Forrest Murray, Final Curtain will focus on the one thing that unites all living beings -- our demise.

Final Curtain will, of course, deal with people of fame, infamy and notoriety. But it will also feature lesser-knowns whose stories are no less interesting. And it will examine the traditions of death in different cultures.
You can listen to a simulcast at the time of broadcast, or to a podcast anytime (the most recently archived show is from Aug. 2, 2005). They even sell copies on CD—the perfect gift for the person in your life whom everyone else finds really creepy.
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Genealogy is Best Done on Television

From 13WHAM-TV (of Rochester, N. Y.), posted Jan. 30, 2005:

Oprah Winfrey, Chris Tucker Trace Roots on PBS

If ever there was a time to tape American Idol and watch something else, this Wednesday is it.

On second thought, maybe it’s best that the PBS two-part series African American Lives (airing 9 to 11 p.m. Feb. 1 and 8) is stored on your TiVo as a permanent reference guide, as host Dr. Henry Louis Gates meticulously explains the process of tracing one’s family heritage back to its roots in Africa using as examples eight prominent black Americans, including Oprah Winfrey and Bishop T.D. Jakes.

[snip]

“It’s one thing to hear a lecture about the double helix and Watson and Crick. It’s another thing learning that if you swab yourself 20 times on each cheek, in three weeks, somebody will send you back a card saying, ‘Your ancestor came from Nigeria, and more specifically from the Ebo people,’” says Gates of a new program offering buyers of a DNA kit a chance to mail in their swabs and pinpoint their origin.

“Who wants dusty ol’ research in dusty ol’ archives? If you could produce your lineage back to slavery, back to the American Revolution, wouldn’t that be more compelling? I think that that’s what we’ve been able to achieve.”

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
I don't know... I kind of enjoy "dusty ol’ research in dusty ol’ archives."
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Thanks a Lot, Dad

From the Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News of Jan. 30, 2006:

Family related to ‘nobody’ fills scroll

By James M. Beidler
Lebanon Daily News

[snip]

Mike Shaak’s challenges aren’t just the many spelling variants and difficult-to-read records.

When he began researching his roots, he asked his father for some help — specifically, “To who are we related?”

To which [h]is father replied: “Nobody.”

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
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Is Earwax the Key to Genealogy?

From LiveScience:

Is Your Earwax Wet or Dry?

By Bjorn Carey
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 29 January 2006

Do you have dry, flaky earwax or the gooey, stinky type? The answer is partly in your heritage.

A new study reveals that the gene responsible for the drier type originated in an ancient Northeastern Asian population.

Today, 80 to 95 percent of East Asians have dry earwax, whereas the wet variety is abundant in people of African and European ancestry (97 to 100 percent).

Populations in Southern Asia, the Pacific Islands, Central Asia, Asia Minor, and Native North Americans and Inuit of Asian ancestry, fall in the middle with dry wax frequencies ranging from 30 to 50 percent.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
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Top Ten Signs You Picked a Bad Genetic Testing Company

10. They got your sex wrong.

9. Your results were handwritten on the back of a Burger King placemat.

8. They misspelled "DNA" four different ways on their website.

7. They had you extract your genetic sample with an ice-cream scoop.

6. They share office space with a Vietnamese chicken farmer with a nasty cough.

5. Their technicians all attend the same high school.

4. For $10 extra, they'll prove you're descended from Jesus.

3. They only advertise in the back of Hustler magazine.

2. They offered you two clones for the price of one.

1. According to your results, you're more closely related to your cocker spaniel than to your husband.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Premarital Sex Leaves Great-Grandson 'Delighted'

From Newsweek:

DNA Testing: In Our Blood

It is connecting lost cousins and giving families surprising glimpses into their pasts. Now scientists are using it to answer the oldest question of all: where did we come from?


By Claudia Kalb
Newsweek

Feb. 6, 2006 issue - Brian Hamman had always wondered: what was up with his great-grandfather Lester? Hamman, an avid genealogist, could trace his patrilineal line back to 19th-century rural Indiana, but there was a glitch in the family records. Great-Grandpa Lester, the documents showed, was born before his parents were married. So was Lester really a Hamman? Was Brian? Three years ago DNA tests confirmed the lineage and a simple family mystery was solved: Lester's parents had hooked up before they walked down the aisle on July 25, 1898. Lester was indeed a Hamman, and so is Brian. "I'm delighted," he says.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
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It's Easy to Be an ID Thief ... or a Genealogist

From the (Glasgow, Scotland) Sunday Herald of Jan. 29, 2006:

It’s easy to get your hands on a birth certificate ... even the First Minister’s

Holes in the system

YOU don’t have to get into bed with eastern European gangsters to start your career as an ID thief. In fact, all you have to do to get the ball rolling is pop into your local office for registering births, deaths and marriages and start culling easily available personal documents.

It took the Sunday Herald about half and hour and less than £50 to get hold of the birth certificates of two dead children ... and Jack McConnell, Scotland’s First Minister. With these documents, the Sunday Herald could have begun hijacking the identities of the dead children and started to assume the identity of the First Minister, wreaking havoc in his financial life.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
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Meet Meta-Search at MyHeritage.com

The folks at MyHeritage.com are allowing sneak peeks of their new genealogy meta-search tool. Their celebrity face-recognition database is getting all the press (see today's Washington Post), but it's the site's search capabilities that will keep genealogists interested.

Before you get started, you'll have to download a Java applet (it took a couple of tries on my PC with WinXP running Firefox). You can then execute your search, making either a simple or advanced search.

With Simple Search, you can enter only first and last name. With Advanced Search, you can narrow down your results using date and place of birth and death, and sex. You can also specify the class of records to search (birth records, criminal records, immigration, etc.), or which of 431 databases to query (Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, GenCircles, RootsWeb, etc.).

As with other genealogy search engines, MyHeritage Search allows you to search by the exact spelling of a surname, or with Soundex enabled. What sets it apart is Megadex—a new, proprietary alternative to Soundex. With Megadex selected, you'll be offered 30 variants of the surname, of which you'll be asked to choose as many as ten before proceeding.

Search results are given as a list of websites in no discernible order (they can be resorted by database name or number of matches). A preview image of each website is shown, with the number of matches and a link to the relevant site. Some have an "Expand" option, which calls up an expanded summary of the search results.

The site still has some bugs to work out—when I went back to try a second surname with Megadex enabled, I was greeted by a blank screen instead of a list of variants. Nevertheless, MyHeritage Search does offer a valuable alternative to the Googlers among us. And with the introduction of its genealogy face-recognition tools and a free family-tree application just around the corner, MyHeritage.com is certainly a bookmark-worthy site.

Update: I neglected to cite some "coming attractions" Hagit Katzenelson of MyHeritage.com mentioned in an email today:

We’re also planning to launch a few other search-related features very soon.

The first will allow registered members to save and annotate their searches. Each search can be saved, sites already visited will be marked, and users can annotate each set of matches, i.e. for each spelling variant in each database. Another feature is to display, per surname, which other members (per each member’s agreement) have searched for that name. This will connect between people searching for the same names. We are also working on a feature that automatically re-runs your saved searches and lets you know if new matches have been found.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Genealogize Your Way to Clearer Skin

Here's a guy who budgets his time wisely. He's managed to combine his interests in genealogy and "acne birth control treatment."

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Friday, January 27, 2006

So Much for the Nuclear Family

If you're wondering how to fit someone into your family tree who doesn't really belong—like Grandpa's "housekeeper" who never seems to do any vacuuming—check out the Star Wars Family Tree at Amazon.com. You'll learn that even Wookiees and droids have a place in the modern intergalactic family.

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Beware of the Stroppy Silver-Haired Ladies

From the Hampstead and Highgate (U.K.) Express:

Stroppy? Who do you think you’re kidding?

editorial@hamhigh.co.uk
27 January 2006
Andrew Brightwell

HIGHGATE Cemetery volunteers have hit back at claims they are a brigade of stroppy silver-haired ladies.

The army of volunteers donned helmets and brandished brooms to prove their point after they were mocked in the 2006 Lonely Planet Guide to London.

Jean Pateman, founder of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery, said: "To paraphrase Churchill, 'Some Mums, some army'."

"When these carping critics show me they can raise nearly £6 million over 30 years and create a thriving business out of a graveyard abandoned by its owners and Camden Council then they will be worth listening to."

[snip]

Baron Jozsef von Treuenburg claims he was stopped from visiting the grave of his ancestor Frederick Biscoe Basevi at the Cemetery in Swains Lane 10 years ago.

Baron von Treuenburg, who is 74 and lives in Fortis Green, said: "A lady told me that I can't come to the grave unless I was named on the will."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Top Ten Least Used GEDCOM Fields

10. Beer Preference

9. Secret Hiding Place

8. Gender Reassignment

7. Kindergarten Expulsion

6. First Grateful Dead Show

5. Presidential Pardon

4. Open Marriage Declared

3. Exorcism

2. Vasectomy Reversal

1. Burial Depth

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The 'John Smith' of China

From chinaview.cn:

100,000 Chinese share one name "Wang Tao"

www.chinaview.cn 2006-01-26

BEIJING, Jan. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- At least 100,000 Chinese people, about the population of a small city, share the same name -- "Wang Tao", probably the most common name in China.

These Wang Taos include both men and women, commoners and celebrities. The popular ones consist of a top ping pong player, at least two footballers, noted painters, photographers and an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
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Author is a Great-Great Liar

From the Bangor (Me.) Daily News:

Record may prove man's status in baseball history

Thursday, January 26, 2006 - Bangor Daily News

[snip]

Although [Ed] Rice wrote "Baseball's First Indian-Louis Sockalexis: Penobscot Legend, Cleveland Indian" to make a case for Sockalexis [as the first American Indian to play major league baseball], he did not have solid proof that the Penobscot Indian was the first. He believes he has that now in the form of the 1919 death certificate of James Madison Toy, who is currently recognized as the first American Indian to play professionally.

[snip]

Rice found he could get a copy of Toy's death certificate, but only if he was related to Toy. He marked on the form that he was kin and submitted it electronically to the records department. When an official called a few hours later to find out how he was related to Toy, Rice lied and said he was a great-great cousin in Maine.

"I just took a deep breath and thought, if there's a record, God, why aren't I entitled to get it out there into the public domain?" Rice said. "I don't see that I'm doing harm other than I'm trying to get my hands on a record once and for all."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tenth Time's a Charm

From The Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald:

Recite incantation, get 10 wives

January 26, 2006 - 12:30AM

A middle-aged Tokyo man found to be living with 10 younger women said he attracted them by reciting an incantation that came to him in a dream.

[snip]

"I had a dream that told me I would become attractive to women if I recited a particular incantation," Kyodo news agency quoted the man as saying.

A rapid series of weddings and divorces left the man with a large group of ex-wives, mostly in their 20s and 30s, who shared his surname and continued to live with him.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
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Underground and Overbuilt

From The Welwyn & Hatfield (U.K.) Times:

Family graves built over

25 January 2006
EDITORIAL - whtimes@archant.co.uk

A WOMAN placed red roses on a trio of family graves for the last time before the builders moved in.

Construction work at St Mary's Church, Welwyn, will mean an emotional time for Susan Cooke, as three of her ancestors' graves will be built over.

[snip]

"They said they will put some kind of poles over the graves. The building will be on top of those. I've said what am I supposed to do if I bring my family? The graves will be under the building."

[Read the whole story]
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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Genealogist Makes Shocking Discovery

A Genealogue Exclusive [What's That?]
Glen Kimball has been researching his family tree for only a few weeks, but already has made a discovery that will rock the genealogical world.

"There's something wrong with the censuses," he says from his home in Alexandria, Virginia. "There's something terribly, terribly wrong with the censuses."

Last week, Kimball found his great-grandfather in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 federal censuses. But the ages given for his ancestor didn't add up.

"He was three years old in 1900, twelve in 1910, and twenty-four in 1920. That's just not possible."

Concerned that other genealogists might be led astray by faulty census data, Kimball immediately contacted the National Archives and notified them of the problem.

National Archives, Washington, D.C."We were very glad to hear from Glen," says RoseAnn Polensky, who runs the Historical Census Department at the Archives. "We would never knowingly release false information to the public. This must have just slipped by our fact-checkers."

On Monday, the Archives announced a recall of all United States census microfilm, which includes records dating from 1790 to 1930. Companies like Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest Online have pledged to take down any census records found to be erroneous.

Polensky notes that Glen Kimball's action has sparked an internal review at the Archives.

"Could other bad information have gotten through? We don't know yet. Until we can look at every document in our possession and check its veracity, we won't be allowing the public access to anything.

"The first document to be released will be the Declaration of Independence," adds Polensky, "just as soon as we verify that all men are created equal."
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You Can Check Out Anytime You Like...

From Tennessean.com, posted Jan. 23, 2006:

Sprawling communities swallow family cemeteries

Historians fear area's past may disappear


By CLAY CAREY
Staff Writer

BRENTWOOD — The Daniel family cemetery holds many stories. Bill Daniel knows them all.

[snip]

But one story that many of the cemetery's visitors who don't go by the last name Daniel find more intriguing is the tale of how the decades-old little graveyard that once sat on the edge of a plum orchard ended up only paces away from the Hilton Suites in Brentwood.

"The question I get asked a lot of times is how did your family get buried in the lawn of the Hilton," Daniel, 75, said. "The real question is, how'd the Hilton end up in my family's graveyard?"

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

A Swede Deal

Seen on craigslist:

Are you a Midwesterner who's only recently discovered your Scandinavian heritage and, in order to frustrate your lonely and otherwise unfulfilled existence, picked up the study of your ancestors' language to connect with your past? Have you progressed beyond level 2? Do you want $20 to renew your subscription on geneology.com for the month of Jan?

[snip]

I will send you a tape, and all you have to do is transcribe the lyrics of the songs on it for me. No translation needed; I just need the lyrics in Swedish. And in return you receive a rather tame compensation ($20) but, considering that all you have to do is listen to music for 40 mins, will probably be the easiest $20 ever earned in the history of Swedish knowledge (finding lost wallets on the streets of Stockholm doesn't count).

[Read the whole ad]

Monday, January 23, 2006

Was Abraham Lincoln Unbalanced?

From the St. Paul Pioneer (Minn.) Press of Jan. 23, 2006:

Lincoln kin help medical research
Results will allow screening for ataxia risk


By Jeremy Olson
Pioneer Press

The proud lineage of President Abraham Lincoln has helped researchers at the University of Minnesota identify a genetic origin of ataxia, a disease that robs people of mobility and coordination.

[snip]

The research simply put a name to something Lincoln descendants already knew: They were more prone to a mysterious ailment. One branch of the family had previously called it the "dreaded Lincoln disease," said Laurie Crary, a 50-year-old who is Lincoln's sixth cousin. Crary, of Prescott, Ariz., isn't as affected as her father, but she and her sister experience vertigo and lose their sense of balance in the dark.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Genealogy Leads to Addiction

From The Kalamazoo (Mich.) Gazette:

Diligence pays off for Super Bowl ticket winner

Saturday, January 21, 2006
By Pam Shebest
pshebest@kalamazoogazette.com 388-2730

Don't invite Ted Dorman to any Super Bowl parties this year. He's going to be there in person, thanks to his addiction to online sweepstakes.

Dorman, 61, is the national grand prize winner of the Doritos brand "Crunch Your Way to the Super Bowl" online sweepstakes.

[snip]

[After retiring, Dorman] started working on his family tree, then started researching his wife's family tree.

"I was spending a lot of time on the computer," he said. "There are games and stuff on there, so I started messing around with them. One thing leads to another and now I spend about one and one-half hours entering contests --- but only the ones that are free."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

A New Approach to Matchmaking

A Genealogue Exclusive [What's That?]
Matchmaker Randy Haines has figured out a new way to link up single men and women. Instead of asking them a long list of questions to deduce and compare their personality traits, Haines simply asks for their last names.

"The key to my approach is simplicity," Haines tells The Genealogue. "Who wants to fill out a questionnaire when love is on his mind?"

Once Haines has a client's surname, he feeds it into a special computer program he calls "Foundex," which generates a code consisting of a letter followed by three numbers. Any man and woman sharing the same Foundex code are meant for each another.

"I've had many successes," says Haines. "One couple even got married. Just last week Cindy Collins and Bill Collings tied the knot in Vegas. They sent me pictures."

Not all of his clients are as happy as Bill and Cindy. Some have threatened to sue after being set up with their own siblings or first-cousins. One man was set up with his ex-wife. Haines acknowledges that mistakes do happen.

"Foundex isn't perfect, but neither is love. And love doesn't come with a coupon for free genetic counseling."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

They're Only a Little Bit Married

From durhamregion.com (of Ontario, Canada):

Married or not?

Paperwork problems leave Uxbridge couple in legal limbo


Jan 20, 2006
By Jeff Hayward Staff Writer

UXBRIDGE -- A father's dying wish for his daughter to get married was granted while he lay in his hospital bed.

But while the couple said "I do", the government says they didn't do everything by the book, citing the lack of a marriage licence. As a result, a marriage certificate for Teresa Holden and John Jacobsen, who live at the Uxbridge/Scugog border, is being denied by the provincial registrar's office.

The decision has left the newlyweds in legal limbo, as the Province still appears to have declared the marriage valid in a letter to the couple's lawyer.

"Because we didn't have a licence before we got married, we can't get one now. Because we can't get one now, we can't get a marriage certificate," Ms. Holden said. "We can't get divorced, even if we wanted to. We can't get re-married either."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Top Ten Last Words Uttered by Census Takers

10. "Are your parents at home, Miss Borden?"

9. "Well, I might as well put all you Hatfields and McCoys on the same page."

8. "It's weird how your kids all look like the guy next door."

7. "C'mon, Ms. Billingsley. We both know you're not 78."

6. "Man! Are all Sicilians this ugly?"

5. "Thanks for the sandwich. Now, you say that five of you have died of typhoid fever this week?"

4. "I'll just put you down as a 'Pimp slash Drug Dealer.'"

3. "You don't understand, I'm required to ask 'Sex' of your wife and children."

2. "And how long has 'homicidal sociopathy' kept you from working?"

1. "Could you pass the fava beans, Dr. Lecter?"

I'll Wait for the Movie

From the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat of Jan. 21, 2006:

The graduates

Genealogists ferret out names from East St. Louis Catholic high schools


BY TERI MADDOX
News-Democrat

It's not a literary page-turner, but then authors Sandi Bennett and Judy Jennings never intended it to be.

Their new book, "The Graduating Classes of the Closed Catholic High Schools, East St. Louis, Illinois, 1894 thru 1989" falls into the "reference" category.

Bennett and Jennings list nearly 10,000 students who graduated from St. Teresa Academy, Central Catholic High School, Assumption High School and St. Mary's High School, along with their parishes or hometowns.

"The main thing is, it will help people with their genealogies," said Jennings, 41, of Belleville, a 1982 graduate of Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Genealogical Find is a Terrible Thing to Waste

This looks to be a good year for African American genealogy. The National Archives recently announced that Freedmen's Bureau records will be made more readily available to researchers. PBS will soon broadcast African American Lives, in which eight famous Americans are presented with their family trees. Ancestry.com is creating a new "African American History Center," and will be offering 13 relevant databases free to the public throughout the month of February. African Ancestry, Inc., is making news for its DNA tracking service, which has traced the ancestries of more than 4,000 families back to specific countries and cultural groups in Africa.

And I've just noticed that HeritageQuest Online has put online some records they've been promising: The Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, 1865-1874.

The information contained in many of the registers is as follows: account number, name of depositor, date of entry, place born, place brought up, residence, age, complexion, name of employer or occupation, wife or husband, children, father, mother, brothers and sisters, remarks, and signature. The early books sometimes also contain the name of the former master or mistress and the name of the plantation. In many entries not all the requested data are given. Copies of death certificates have been pinned to some of the entries. In each case the certificate has been filmed immediately after the page that shows the registration of the person's signature.
If you don't yet use HeritageQuest Online, check out the list of libraries and societies that offer free access being compiled at The Encyclopedia of Genealogy.

It Ain't All Peaches and Cream

From The (Sydney, Australia) Daily Telegraph:

Peaches hates her name

January 21, 2006

LONDON: Peaches Honeyblossom Michelle Charlotte Angel Vanessa Geldof, the second-eldest daughter of Bob Geldof and the late Paula Yates, has attacked her name.

"I hate ridiculous names," she said. "My weird name has haunted me all my life."

[snip]

Her sisters are Fifi Trixibelle, Pixie and Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, child of her mother's relationship with Michael Hutchence.

[Read the whole story]

Sleep in Heavenly Peace, Emil

From the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star, posted Jan. 19, 2006:

Descendant of 'Silent Night' composer dies

By the Lincoln Journal Star

Emil Monhardt, the great-great-great grandson of “Silent Night” composer Franz Gruber died in his sleep Tuesday. The retired electrician charmed visitors at Gramercy Hill at Christmastime with German renditions of his ancestor’s tune. This December he was featured in a column in the Lincoln Journal Star.

His voice wasn’t too strong anymore, he told the paper.

“I sing it so much, it’s just about too old,” he said. “People get tired of it.”

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Poe's Birthday Party Crashed

From Guardian Unlimited:

Poe graveside tribute remains a mystery

Associated Press
Thursday January 19, 2006

For the 57th year running, a mystery man today paid tribute to Edgar Allan Poe by placing roses and a bottle of cognac on the writer's grave to mark his birthday.

Some of the 25 spectators drawn to a tiny, locked graveyard in downtown Baltimore for the ceremony climbed over the walls of the site and were "running all over the place trying to find out how the guy gets in", according to Jeff Jerome, the most faithful viewer of the event.

Mr Jerome, curator of the Poe House and Museum, said he had to chase people out of the graveyard, fearing they would interfere with the mystery visitor's ceremony.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Losers Fly Free

From The (Toronto, Ont.) Globe and Mail:

What's in a name? Maybe a free flight

By SCOTT DEVEAU

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

After the election next Monday, the losing federal leaders may want to just slip away somewhere. Now, a Canadian airline is going to make a little easier for them -- or for anyone who shares their last name for that matter.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. is offering anyone with the surname Martin, Harper, Layton, Duceppe, or Harris an opportunity to get a free domestic fare on the day following the Jan. 23 election.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Small Town Infested With Burtons

From The Indianapolis (Ind.) Star of Jan. 16, 2006:

A small world for Burtons

In Edinburgh, 1 in 20 residents shares name


By Jon Murray
jon.murray@indystar.com

EDINBURGH, Ind. -- Nobody knows just how many Burtons [have populated] this town long defined by factories and fresh starts since it was settled in the 1820s.

[snip]

One in every 20 residents in the town of 4,500 is a Burton.

By comparison, Marion County's Burton rate among registered voters is one in 1,287.

A curiosity, to be sure -- and in Johnson County, long the basis for jokes, especially each time a wayward Edinburgh Burton turns up on the police blotter.

"I used to make wisecracks," said Miladean Cox, 54. "But then my daughter married one."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

A Monumental Debate

Becca's Cyber Home brings to light a controversy brewing in Texas.

It seems that a monument commemorating the location of the former town of Indianola — "a vital port in German immigration to Texas" — has been altered by the addition of a bench.The bench is so oddly positioned that anyone attempting to both sit on the bench and read the inscription on the monument risks a nasty case of whiplash. The bench does, however, provide an excellent vantage for observing tourists who've come to see the monument. Or the bench.

I have been a proponent of sitting for many years, and cannot help but wonder why they would keep this ostentatious monument — which obviously distracts from the beauty and utility of the bench. The monument was erected in 1936, and has served its purpose. Let's knock it down, and install more benches.

And maybe a taco stand.

She'll Quilt Forever, or Die Trying

From the (Yucca Valley, Calif.) Hi-Desert Star:

90-year-old's birthday gift: 98 quilts for descendants

By Michelle Willey / Hi-Desert Star Tuesday, January 17, 2006

YUCCA VALLEY - “I don't feel 90, I haven't felt old until this year,” says Herminia Rios, who celebrated her 90th birthday on Dec. 30 with a party at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Close to 120 people came to Rios' party to help her celebrate, said her daughter-in-law Norma Rios.

During the party Rios gave 98 quilts which she had made over the last 10 years to each member of her direct family line.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

A Large Wild Man at Large

From the Macclesfield (U.K.) Express of Jan. 18, 2006:

We’re all related to the Macclesfield Wild Man

WOULD the real relative of the legendary Wild Man of Macclesfield please stand up?

After the Macclesfield Express went in search of the legend behind a local giant who was transported to Australia, escaped and became an Aboriginal chief for 30 years – we thought we would be lucky to find one living relative.

But, like London buses, three came along at once!

[snip]

Margaret Windelinckx, 64, of Chelford Road, Macclesfield, was the first person to come forward as a potential relative, and is the one candidate who has traced her family tree – originally from Belgium – the furthest back to William.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

George Clooney Goes Off Script

A Genealogue Exclusive [What's That?]
Actor George Clooney baffled the audience at the 2006 Golden Globes last night when he began laying out his genealogy during an acceptance speech.

"Rosemary Clooney was my aunt," explained Clooney. "Now, her first husband was José Ferrer, and their kids are my first cousins. Didn't Miguel get nominated for Crossing Jordan this year? No? Anyway, Miguel's brother Rafael Ferrer is married to Debby Boone, who's Pat Boone's daughter, of course, but also the granddaughter of Red Foley, who used to appear on the Grand Old Opry."

The music then started up, signaling that it was time for Clooney to step off the stage. But he was just getting started.

"My ex-wife, Talia Balsam, was the daughter of Martin Balsam and Joyce Van Patten, so she's the niece of Dick Van Patten, and a cousin to Vince and the others. But let's get back to my father, Nick, who's the descendant of an Irish immigrant to Kentucky."

As Clooney pulled a folded family tree chart from the pocket of his tuxedo, two security guards wearing NBC name tags tackled him and dragged him offstage. To the dismay of those trying to keep the show on schedule, the audience responded with a standing ovation that lasted four full minutes.

UK Outlaws 'Marriage'

From LifeSite:

UK Orders Registry offices to Remove All References to “Marriage” due to Civil Partnerships

By Gudrun Schultz

UNITED KINGDOM, England, January 16, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Registry offices in the UK are taking down all signs referring to “marriage.” The Government has advised regional councils to change sign wording in case gay couples are offended. Homosexual relationships can now be registered as Civil Partnerships, under the UK’s new legislation.

[snip]

The Government-issued Civil Partnership checklist, which contains the signage recommendations, also suggests registry offices change the heading of their stationary packages from “Your Wedding” to “Your Ceremony.”

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Kiss Me, I'm an Irish Warlord

From Reuters.com:

Scientists discover most fertile Irish male

Tue Jan 17, 2006

By Siobhan Kennedy

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Scientists in Ireland may have found the country's most fertile male, with more than 3 million men worldwide among his offspring.

The scientists, from Trinity College Dublin, have discovered that as many as one in twelve Irish men could be descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, a 5th-century warlord who was head of the most powerful dynasty in ancient Ireland.

His genetic legacy is almost as impressive as Genghis Khan, the Mongol emperor who conquered most of Asia in the 13th century and has nearly 16 million descendants, said Dan Bradley, who supervised the research.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Monday, January 16, 2006

Confucian Reigns

From China View:

25 Chinese records go into Guinness Book in 2005

www.chinaview.cn 2006-01-16 20:20:46

SHENYANG, Jan. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- Twenty-five Chinese records went into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2005, sources with China's submitting office said Monday.

[snip]

The Confucius family genealogy, one of the 25 records, is considered the longest of its kind in world records. Dating back 2,800 years, it clearly records the 86 generations of the Confucius family tree.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Brothers Display Pride in Ancestry, Among Other Things

From newzimbabwe.com:

Loin cloth wearers arrested after shoppers complain

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: Mon, 16 Jan 2006 02:41:52 GMT

TWIN Zimbabwean brothers were charged with indecent exposure after strolling up to an up-market Harare shopping mall wearing only traditional goatskin loin cloths, a state-run newspaper reported Sunday.

Tafadzwa and Tapiwanashe Fichiani, 22, returned recently from 2 1/2 years in Britain vowing to promote an authentically African lifestyle, the Sunday Mail reported.

[snip]

"We do not care what people say or think about us because we regard them as colonized," his brother, Tapiwanashe, was quoted as saying. "Why do they laugh at someone wearing nhembe, yet their ancestors wore nhembe before they were colonized?"

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Did Columbus Wear an Eye Patch?

From The (London, U.K.) Independent:

Was Colombus really a Catalan pirate? DNA test will decide

By Elizabeth Nash in Madrid
Published: 13 January 2006

Spanish scientists are to test the DNA of hundreds of Catalans with the surname Colom to prove that Christopher Columbus, far from the Italian gentleman he has long been believed to be, was in fact a pirate born in Catalonia.

The experiment, in determining whether any of the participants are related to the explorer, is designed to clarify the disputed origins of the man who made landfall in America in 1492. While historians have mostly reckoned he was born in Genoa in 1451, a counter-lobby argues that he was the Catalan Cristofol Colom, who airbrushed his past to conceal activities as a pirate and conspirator against the king.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Another Rags to Riches to Rags Story

From New York Newsday:

Seventh-generation du Pont says he's nearly broke

By SAMUEL MAULL
Associated Press Writer

January 13, 2006, 5:45 PM EST

NEW YORK -- Money may not buy happiness, but it will buy a place to live, something a seventh-generation du Pont says he needs.

Alexis I. du Pont de Bie, a direct descendant of the du Pont chemical fortune founder, says he is "destitute and homeless" because of the mismanagement of the part of the family fortune left to him.

[snip]

De Bie says he is a direct seventh-generation descendant of Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, who immigrated to the United States from France in 1799 and founded the company that bears his name.

[Read the whole story]

Racial-Spatial Profiling

If you happen to carry around one of Britain's top 25,000 surnames, head over to the Surname Profiler—a new database that shows the origins of names, and maps their frequency and geographical distribution in the U.K., U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. If your name isn't included, try again later: they'll be adding another 250,000 in the future.

Searching for my own surname, I find that "Dunham" is very popular in Tasmania, which explains why my mail always end up there. In the U.S., the state with the highest rate of Dunhamhood is Maine—which happens to be the state where I keep my toothbrush. The rate of Dunhamhood in my bedroom on any given night is dizzyingly high.

The website also tells me that 22% of people have "a more rural name," while only 16% have "a more high-status name." I think that means that I'm more likely to be condescending than condescended to.

The best part of using the website was discovering that we Dunhams are a multiethnic family. Sure, 98.72% of us are classified as "English or unknown," but 0.12% are Greek or Greek Cypriot, 0.06% are Hispanic, 0.17% are Black African, 0.06% are Indian, and 0.23% are Muslims of some sort. We're almost as multiethnic as the U.S. Senate!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Top Ten Reasons Genealogy is Better than Sex

10. No shame in doing it alone or with a group.

9. The magazines have better articles.

8. Not creepy to think of your grandparents doing it.

7. Madonna will never write a book about it.

6. Can do it online without sending the kids to bed.

5. Doing it Register style won't throw your back out.

4. Only protection required is a backup disk.

3. Can hire a professional without risking arrest.

2. People don't stare when you do it at the library.

1. Disrobing is optional.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Donners Came Late to the Party

From SFGate.com:

Scientists: Donner Family Not Cannibals

By SCOTT SONNER, Associated Press Writer

Friday, January 13, 2006

Reno, Nev. (AP) -- There's no physical evidence that the family who gave the Donner Party its name had anything to do with the cannibalism the ill-fated pioneers have been associated with for a century and a half, two scientists said Thursday.

Cannibalism has been documented at the Sierra Nevada site where most of the Donner Party's 81 members were trapped during the brutal winter of 1846-47, but 21 people, including all the members of the George and Jacob Donner families, were stuck six miles away because a broken axle had delayed them.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
(Thanks, George!)

The Genealogy Popularity Poll

Dick Eastman raises an interesting question: How popular is genealogy?

Genealogy is often said to be the second (or third, or fourth) most popular topic on the Internet, but a scientific study of its popularity has never been undertaken.

Until now.

The results of this poll will only be valid if everyone on the Internet participates, so please tell your friends. And don't vote more than twice.

You Can't Pick Your Relatives

From The (Toronto, Ont.) Globe and Mail:

EVOLVED? Stephen Harper and Ricky of Trailer Park Boys are distant cousins

By JANE TABER

Friday, January 13, 2006 Page A1

With a report from Gloria Galloway

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Robb Wells, better known to Canadians as Ricky on Trailer Park Boys, are cousins.

We are not making this up.

These two men are descendents of the same great-great-great-great-great grandfather, George Dobson.

[snip]

For those Canadians who may not know, Mr. Robb is the potato chip and pepperoni-stick-consuming character living in his car in Nova Scotia's fictional Sunnyvale trailer park.

[snip]

Mr. Harper is the serious-minded, policy-wonkish politician who lives at Stornoway, the official mansion of the opposition leader, but would like to be living soon at 24 Sussex Dr., the Prime Minister's official residence.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Multiethnic Multiplication

From The New Zealand Herald:

'Kiwi' a dinkum response for next Census

13.01.06
By Simon Collins

People who describe their ethnicity as "New Zealander" or "Kiwi" will have their answers recorded in the main Census for the first time this year.

Statistics New Zealand chief demographer Mansoor Khawaja says he is ready to bow to public opinion and stop classifying people who give these answers to the Census ethnicity question under the official category "New Zealand European".

The department has also abandoned a controversial system, used since 1986, of "prioritising" the ethnic origins of people with mixed ancestry.

People who tick both the "New Zealand European" and "Maori" boxes, for example, will now be counted as belonging to both groups, so the total of all ethnic groups will add up to more than 100 per cent of the population.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Dumpster-Diving for History

From The (Martinsville, Ind.) Reporter-Times:

County record disposal concerns historian

By Amy Hillenburg
ahillenb@reportert.com

Thursday January 12, 2006

There could be growing gaps in Morgan County's public records, according to county historian Sam Cline, if the proper process is not followed in storing, reviewing, microfilming and destroying them.

It concerns him that in 1969 and again in 2005, old record books were thrown into a dumpster for disposal and burning.

[snip]

In the 1960s, Cline was doing research in the Morgan County Recorder's office in the courthouse. Thelma Gray was Recorder at the time. She showed him a sight that still haunts him - a room on the third floor where people had merely opened the door and started throwing county records into it.

"I picked up a small book with a real leather cover and no information on the spine or cover and I opened it. The book was the original 1847 tax records for Morgan County," Cline said.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Thursday, January 12, 2006

You Take My Name, I'll Take Yours

From Stuff.co.nz:

The wedding name game

13 January 2006
By MICHELLE QUIRKE

Diamonds are forever – but not surnames.

Wellingtonian Kathryn Neale has a dazzling ring on her finger – but it was the diamond on a softball field that decided which surname she and new husband Sam Shaffer would take.

The New York-based couple hit on an unusual solution – a Kiwis-versus-the-"world" wedding guests' softball match – with the winning team dictating which last name the newlyweds would use.

And it was the groom's side that struck out, beaten 8-7 by the Kiwis.

[snip]

"It was all a bit of a joke, I'll take your name if you take my name," said the bride, who met her husband in New York five years ago.

True to his word, Mr Neale will honour the deal "for a period of time".

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

How Not to Inspect a Loaded Pistol

From Scotsman.com:

How they got to be buried in Edinburgh

MICHAEL T R B TURNBULL

GRAVEYARDS are a fascinating gateway into the extraordinarily diverse lives of the men and women who have found themselves - by accident or design - in the capital city of Scotland.

[snip]

The cemetery is also home to gunsmith Thomas Leslie, who went to inspect the pistol with which the well-known geologist and writer Hugh Miller had committed suicide the day before in Portobello while tormented by brain disease. The revolver, rusted from lying overnight in Miller's bath, was taken to the gunsmith who had sold it to discover how many bullets had been fired. The gun was handed over to the foreman, Thomas Leslie, with the spoken words "Mind, it is loaded". Leslie examined the rusty safety-catch. He held it up to his eye and lifted the hammer to count the bullets. At that instant the pistol went off, blowing his brains out. Leslie, who had eight children and had worked with guns for 25 years, was buried in the Grange Cemetery a little earlier on the same day as Miller.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Maybe You Can Judge a Book By Its Cover

Dave at OakvilleBlackWalnut blogged yesterday about something near and dear to my heart — and to every other internal organ I possess. Suffice to say, if you've ever wondered whether your ancestors had tattoos, you might want to check the shelves of your local library.

Ask The Genealogue 4

Dear Genealogue,
My local library won't allow me to photocopy a couple of fragile books, and there's too much information in them to copy by hand. How can I get the information I need without violating the library's policy?
Doug in Rockville, CT
First, buy yourself a digital camera. There are several affordable models available these days. Next, catch the head librarian in a compromising position — preferably something involving the mayor and his paper boy — and snap a few pictures. With these photos in hand, you should find the library's policies much more flexible on your next visit.
Dear Genealogue,
I'm stumped. My gr-gr-gr-grandfather seems to have dropped off the face of the planet sometime after the 1880 census. I can't find a death record or a gravestone, and I can't find him in any later census. Any ideas?

Stanley in Greeley, CO
Your ancestor may have changed his name to "Sally," joined a transvestite minstrel show which toured the western United States (to mixed reviews) in the late 19th century, and been beaten to death with a riding crop after inflaming the passions of a young Teddy Roosevelt.

Of course, this is just a guess.
Dear Genealogue,
What's the proper way to store daguerreotype photographs?

Nancy in Sacramento, CA
In a 350º oven.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Where Were You When Your Grandparents Married?

From Reuters.com:

Couples tie knot in mass wedding in stadium

Mon Jan 9, 2006

LA PAZ, Bolivia (Reuters) - Nearly 200 Bolivian couples aged from 18 to 77 got hitched in a mass wedding in a sports stadium, taking advantage of the free ceremony, organizers said on Sunday.

[snip]

Catalina Paz, who has lived with her partner Florencio Gonzales for 37 years, told the daily La Razon they had finally decided to get married because their children wanted them to.

"Our grandchildren will definitely be watching us from the stands," she was quoted as saying.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]
(Thanks, Andy!)

Don't Mormons Ever Sleep?

Renee Zamora is beta testing a new feature at FamilySearch called Family Tree — sort of like OneGreatFamily with an LDS feel. You'll be able to log in, upload your GEDCOM, and let Family Tree merge your data with data from the IGI, Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File.

FamilySearch has the best merge function I have ever seen. I just love this feature. It will give you the number of possible matches and present five at a time. Instead of choosing who to make primary and what information to keep it will automatically combine all information together. All the birth or death opinions will be listed together in their separate fields. But the neat thing is you can delete your merge! Now I haven’t seen any genealogy software program do that yet.
What I find most promising is the way disputed information is handled.
It is now possible for you and your second cousin to have multiple opinions show up on an individual. You have the ability to dispute each other’s information and note the reason for the dispute. But you cannot change each other’s information contributed. There is an icon that will show if information is disputed. All information added will be maintained. You also have the ability to cite your sources.
Read Renee's entire post for the full scoop.

Remembering Their Ancestors' Sacrifices

From The Washington (D.C.) Post:

Thousands Gather for Voodoo Day in Benin

By VIRGILE AHISSOU
The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 10, 2006

OUIDAH, Benin -- Thousands gathered on a beach Tuesday to celebrate Benin's once-banned Voodoo, slaughtering animals and welcoming revelers from Brazil and the United States, including descendants of slaves who took the religion to the Americas centuries ago.

At a ceremony in the southern town of Ouidah, Voodoo high priestess Nagbo Hounon Gbeffa sacrificed a goat, a rooster and a chicken as divine offerings.

"I'm very moved," said Faith McDouglas, a 37-year-old nurse from Omaha, Neb. "I've understood many things regarding my origins, because I'm a descendant of slaves."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Monday, January 09, 2006

Let's Hope He Isn't Bringing Smallpox

From Edinburgh (Scotland) Evening News of Jan. 9, 2006:

Strong winds hit city rower's Atlantic hopes

AN adventurer attempting to row across the Atlantic single-handed has passed the deepest part of the ocean but is being hampered by severe weather.

Edinburgh rower Leven Brown, 32, a descendant of Christopher Columbus, is now into the final phase of his journey from Spain to Trinidad after setting off in September.

[snip]

Mr Brown, from Restalrig, is following in his ancestor's footsteps by rowing from Spain to Trinidad, although Columbus needed three ships and 90 men to complete the journey.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

IDs Without Intelligent Design

From The (Port Elizabeth, South Africa) Herald Online, posted Jan. 9, 2006:

Long wait for documents angers staff, ID applicants

By Bianca Capazorio

[snip]

Ringus van Den Berg first applied for his ID book in the middle of 2004, and in March, 2005, received one with a picture of a woman next to his name.

[snip]

In August last year, a KwaDwesi artist, Kholekile Gwata, found himself with an identity crisis when his new ID book arrived bearing the face of a white man.

[snip]

National head of communications for home affairs, Nkosana Sibuyi, said that by September the department had processed 76 000 applications to change incorrect ID books.

“Around 28 000 had the incorrect spelling of names and surnames, 37 000 had the incorrect date of birth and 5 000 had the incorrect gender,” Sibuyi said.

A further 1 000 applications were processed with duplicate ID numbers, and 700 had incorrectly been declared dead.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

They're Russian to Judgment

From The (Toronto, Ont.) Globe and Mail:

Descendant of last czar pushes Russia to admit mistake

By GRAEME SMITH

Monday, January 9, 2006

From Monday's Globe and Mail

Yekaterinburg, Russia — On the face of it, Maria Romanova's legal application to Russian prosecutors might seem straightforward.

As the self-described head of the surviving family of Nicholas II, Russia's last czar, Ms. Romanova wants rehabilitation for her ancestors, according to her lawyer. Under Russian law, this would mean a formal admission that Nicholas II was unjustly killed along with his wife, children and attendants after revolution swept away Russia's monarchy.

[snip]

Perhaps most troubling for Ms. Romanova's legal process are the questions posed by experts in Yekaterinburg about her credibility. The birth certificate for czar Nicholas that she submitted as part of her application looks as though it could belong to anybody, said Vadim Viner, a businessman from Yekaterinburg who has been researching the death of the Romanovs for 17 years.

"She probably got the certificate from some homeless person whose name was Nicholas," Mr. Viner said, slouching in a badly rumpled three-piece suit in his small, dark office.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Top Ten Signs Your Doctor is a Genealogist

10. Family Medical History form asks for grandparents' marriage dates.

9. Diagnoses your ailment as "Census-taker's elbow."

8. Always collecting unnecessary DNA samples.

7. Family photos in his office are of people dead for seventy years.

6. Only things to read in his waiting room are family group sheets.

5. His first question: "How old were you as of April 1, 1930?"

4. Asks for an advance copy of your obituary before taking out your gallbladder.

3. Checks your pockets for primary sources while you're under anesthesia.

2. Scribbles a prescription, then transcribes it while you wait.

1. Works out of a Family History Center.

So Please, Don't Mention Slavery

From the Portales (N.M.) News-Tribune of Jan. 8, 2006:

United Daughters of the Confederacy remember history

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Women of the United Daughters of the Confederacy celebrated the 100th year anniversary of the local area chapter in Portales on Friday.

[snip]

“It’s a moment of great pride and honor to be a member and to honor my ancestry,” Jane Hilliard of Portales said. “We don’t take part in the political aspect of it (the Civil War). We’re not trying to rewrite the war. We are simply searching for the history.”

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

We're Being Replaced by Computers

From the Neosho (Mo.) Daily News of Jan. 8, 2006:

Genealogy book plots land plats

By Todd G. Higdon / Daily News Staff Writer

NORMAN, Okla. - For a number of years, Greg Boyd, author of the new book “Family Maps of Newton County, Missouri” wanted to know about his family's past.

[snip]

With his love of genealogy and wanting to find out more, he developed computer programs that literally work around the clock.

“They scan various genealogy and non-genealogy Web sites, much like Google or Yahoo's ‘spiders' do,” Greg said. “And they store information on servers at our headquarters. Captured data goes into databases of my design, so the ‘sorting' out of data is largely done at the time the information is gathered.”

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Getting a DNA Sample the Hard Way

From The Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star:

Hunley findings bring surprises

By Scott Boyd

Date published: 1/7/2006

"I WORK WITH Civil War remains more than anyone out there," said Dr. Douglas W. Owsley, division head for physical anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution.

[snip]

One of those sailors [on the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley] who might have descendants alive today was none other than Fredericksburg's own Frank Collins. The body of a suspected maternal relative, Edward Clarke Gosnell (1853-1929) was exhumed in 2004 to retrieve some DNA that could be tested against material recovered from Collins' body to see if the men were related. Gosnell has known living relatives.

Owsley showed pictures of the cemetery where Gosnell's grave was opened with the family's permission. Owsley recalled that as he crawled over the opened casket to cut Gosnell's trouser leg to get a sample of bone marrow from the man's thigh bone, the lid fell on him, pushing him partly into the casket with the body. Owsley said this was quite an experience. But he did retrieve the sample he wanted.

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

Friday, January 06, 2006

City Abuzz Over New Discovery

A Genealogue Exclusive [What's That?]
Frank Russell was poking around his attic last week, and came upon a historical treasure.

"It was stuffed down inside a wall cavity, as if someone had hidden it there," says Russell, a supermarket manager in Utica, N. Y. "When I pulled it out, I saw that it might be valuable."

The ledger Russell extracted was even more valuable than he had hoped. Inside were the business records of his own great-grandfather, who ran a boarding house in Utica during the Depression.

"His name was Samuel G. Handy," according to Russell. "It appears that he opened his home to young, unmarried women after his wife died in 1931. He must have done it as a public service, because I can't see that they ever paid him rent."

Handy's ledger does show some other payments — made by men from Utica and surrounding towns. This puzzles Russell.

"It doesn't say why they were giving him money. Whatever Sam was providing, it must have left those guys satisfied. The same names keep showing up week after week — some of the most prominent men in town are in there."

When news of the ledger's existence surfaced, members of the Utica Genealogical Society showed up at Russell's door, asking to view his discovery. Before they left, they offered to purchase the book for a large sum.

"They were very eager to get their hands on it," he brags. "Once they saw their own relatives' names in there, they knew they had to have it."

But Russell isn't ready to part with the ledger.

"This is a part of my family's history, so I want to keep hold of it. It'll be displayed in my dining room, right next to great-grandfather Handy's sex-toy collection."

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