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Monday, April 30, 2007

Silence

One Day Blog Silence

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Guide to Internet Genealogy

I've whipped up a flowchart that lays out in the simplest of terms how genealogists use the Web. It will appear in the appendix of my forthcoming book, Internet Genealogy for Complete and Utter Morons.

Hank Ain't Here!

As sexton of Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama, Phillip Taunton is in charge of 100,000 graves. He spends much of his time greeting visitors, and then telling them to go away.

"Most are here to visit Hank Williams' grave," said Taunton, explaining that while the grave is often listed as being in Oakwood Cemetery, it actually rests in the Oakwood Annex.
"If I had a dollar for every person I told how to get to Hank Williams' grave, well, I'd be doing pretty well right now," he said smiling.
In fact, Taunton still exchanges letters regularly with a visitor who came from England's Isle of Wight to see Hank Williams' grave and came to the main cemetery instead of the annex. [Link]

Into the Lion's Den

Seventy years after his death, the family of Harold Davidson, the Rector of Stiffkey, is still trying to clear his name. He was accused of misbehaving with the "fallen women" he tirelessly tried to rescue.

At the ensuing church trial, in 1932, only one of the 40 witnesses, Barbara Harris, a 17-year-old prostitute bribed with money and alcohol, testified against him. Nevertheless, the Rector was found guilty of "systematic misbehaviour" and "removed, deposed and degraded" by his nemesis, the Bishop of Norwich. [Link]
His trial was a cause célèbre and spawned a media circus, but it was the story of his bizarre death that interested me most. Having been defrocked, he took a job at Skegness playing the part of "A modern Daniel in the lion's den." Standing in a lion's cage, he preached from the Bible and spoke about the injustice he had suffered. On July 28, 1937, his co-star Freddie grew tired of his act and knocked him to the floor.
The lion then grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and stalked around the small cage shaking the poor Harold back and forth. The audience thinking it was part of the act roared with laughter and therefore it was some time before help was called. Unfortunately it was too late for Harold Davidson and he died from wounds sustained a few days later. [Link]

Saturday, April 28, 2007

San Fran's Burial Ban

Dead people don't pay taxes and they take up precious real estate, so San Francisco decided in the early 20th century to evict them—or at least to find a way to hide them. This society newsletter from 1992 has the grisly timeline.

1901
The city supervisors prohibited further burials in the city limits.

1909
City supervisors were granted permission to use Golden Gate Cemetery as a park. Mausoleums and tombstones were removed and disposed of down a convenient ravine at Land's End. Those bodies that were not removed were covered over and the area became the Lincoln Park Golf Course.

1914
All remaining burials were ordered out of the city.
Walls, crypts and markers from the Laurel Hill Cemetery were dumped into the bay to become the Marina Yacht Harbor jetty—now home to a nifty Wave Organ. Thousands of displaced San Franciscans wound up in the necropolis at Colma, which was created so the city wouldn't have to trip over its dead pioneers.

If you need help figuring out where your San Francisco ancestors were deposited, San Francisco Genealogy is a good place to start.

He Knew How to Write a Good Curse

The curse that William Shakespeare had engraved on his tomb ("Good frend for Jesus sake forebeare,/ To digg the dust encloased heare./ Bleste be ye man yt spares thes stones,/ And curst be he yt moves my bones.") actually worked.

Philip Schwyzer, a senior lecturer at Exeter University, said: "Shakespeare had an unusual obsession with burial and a fear of exhumation. The stern inscription on the slab has been at least partially responsible for the fact that there have been no successful projects to open the grave."
Anxiety about the mistreatment or exhumation of corpses is found in at least 16 of his 37 plays, with this concern often being more pronounced than the fear of death itself. [Link]
[Photo credit: Shakespeare's cursed grave by James Macdonald]

No Kissing the Queenly Cuz

British royal historian Robert Lacey gives advice on meeting Queen Elizabeth II, who will be arriving Thursday to help commemorate the Jamestown anniversary.

Address the queen as "Your Majesty" or "Ma'am."

"'Liz' or 'Elizabeth' don't go down well," Lacey said. "And you wouldn't shout out, 'Queen!' or 'Queenie!' That would be considered rather aggressive."
If the queen lingers, feel free to engage her in friendly small talk. "Anything in the public realm is allowable," Lacey said. "But not, 'My family history shows that I am related to the Royal Family,' things like that." It's simply too familiar. [Link]
[Photo by Ricardo Stuckert]

SSN Nonsense

Here's another journalist who believes that the SSDI could be useful to identity thieves.

I was doing a little genealogical research and found my father’s Social Security number in three seconds on Google. (SSNs of dead people are most coveted by thieves.) So one must say the horses already are out of the pasture. These security rules create a false sense of security where there is none. [Link]
If the writer is referring to the SSDI, those dead horses are very much still in the pasture. As I've noted before, the SSDI (or "Death Master File") is used to prevent identity theft by letting financial institutions know which SSNs are no longer in service. Valid SSNs are distributed to thieves by an entirely different government agency.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Another Reason to Breastfeed

Somers Point, New Jersey, City Councilman Patrick Bingham defends raising the price of a birth certificate from $10 to $20 by making a weird comparison.

“A baby's milk can cost more than that ($10) a day,” Bingham says, adding that “everybody wins” if the city raises the price enough to bring in a part-time worker to process vital documents. “We can supply them five days a week — right now, it's only certain hours and certain days — and sometimes people are coming from out of state for them.” [Link]
"Everybody wins" except the poor baby who must go hungry for a day so mommy and daddy can afford a copy of its birth certificate.
[Photo by Giuseppe Crimeni]

Now That's a Scrapbook

A previously unknown letter from George Washington has been discovered in a little girl's scrapbook.

It was written in May 1787 and addressed to Jacob Morris, grandfather of Julia Kean, the precocious 10-year-old who started the brown leather scrapbook in 1826 and put the letter under a portrait of the nation’s first president.
The letter paper was too long to fit, especially under the large portrait, so Julia cut a strip off the top and plastered it vertically on the page, next to the letter’s envelope.
Julia also saved a letter from Thomas Jefferson to her step-grandfather, a Polish count who was traveling back to Poland to help Napoleon in a military campaign. [Link]

A Pagan Pedigree

Dennis Callahan claims to be a "fourth generation hereditary witch."

His great-aunt Marion was born with a veil, what is referred to in medical terms as a “caul.” It’s a hood of porous skin that covers the head of a newborn. It’s extremely rare to be born with a caul, which, for many, indicates a “third eye” or heightened psychic ability.
Marion's niece—Callahan's mother—married a man whose sister was a witch.
For the past 400 years, his ancestors have been witches who read tarot. But Callahan’s pagan ancestry stretches even further back to the Druids, who practiced a type of paganism unknown today because they didn’t write. [Link]
I will not criticize the claims made in this article for fear of waking tomorrow morning as a toad.

Dick Cheney's Black Son

Bob Ray Sanders explains in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram how his father, James McKinley Sanders, came to be known as "Dick Cheney."

Dad's mother died when he was 12, and he was raised by his maternal grandparents, Major and Malinda Cheney. He was one of the heirs to their estate.
So it's easy to see how he was referred to as a "Cheney" boy, having been raised on what many in the Riverside area and other parts of the county referred to as "the Cheney ranch." But where does the "Dick" come from? [Link]
The "Dick" comes from Major Cheney's father, Richard.

When asked by his niece, "Do you really suppose we're related to the vice president?" Sanders responded, "Let's not go there."

Try Not to Lose the Plot

When conducting genealogical research in a large graveyard, it is always advisable to stop by the cemetery office before heading out to search for stones. Otherwise, you might end up like the guy in this YouTube clip at GENanon.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Bad Place to Store Your Photos

Just a month after this strange episode, unusual items have been found in a second Yonkers, N. Y., cemetery.

Yonkers cops are investigating the bizarre desecration of a freshly dug grave after a cemetery worker discovered four smoked fishes - gutted and stuffed with photographs of unidentified people - inside the tomb.

The fish were each wrapped in black cloth and had several spices accompanying them. [Link]

What Were Their Parents Thinking?

JDR at Anglo-Celtic Connections today offers some Unusual names in family history.

One of the two men from the Ottawa Company of Sharpshooters who died at the Battle of Cut Knife Hill on 2 May 1885 was John Rogers, a native of Barbados. While researching for the book "The Ottawa Sharpshooters" I found his mother was baptized Mary Licorish Kidney, one of the most unusual names I've ever found. It rivals a Norfolk man I stumbled on baptized February Backlog.
I recently ran across a guy named "Newport Rhode Island" who served in the Revolution from Massachusetts. At first I thought it was a mistake, but his name appears both in Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors and in the bounty land grant application filed by his widow in Maine. And then there's "Coffin Thing," who lived in Waterborough, Maine, in 1790 (his mother was a Coffin, his father a Thing).

Use This Method Only If You're Stumped

Here's an extreme way to establish the marriage date of your ancestors: chop down their "wedding pair" and count the rings. This is from a story on a Dogwood Festival in Connecticut.

In keeping with the botanical aspect of the festival, visitors will take in views of the spectacular copper beech tree on the green-listed in Connecticut's "Book of Noble Trees" as well as a number of "wedding pair" matching antique trees, a custom dating back to the 1600s and 1700s to mark weddings of our ancestors. [Link]

He'd Rather Be Selling Paper Clips

An interview in the Des Moines Register with office-supply retailer Dick Triplett ends on a sour note.

Q. One more question. What's the nationality of the name Triplett?

A. (Dick) That's a good question. My father was French and English. There's some German. Some day I'm going to research all that. I believe it's a lot more fun selling office products than doing genealogy - the rewards are greater. [Link]

Complaining: It's the American Way

In a misguided effort to pay off the national debt and save Social Security from bankruptcy, NARA has proposed raising the price of a Civil War pension file from $37 to $125. Friday is the last day to voice objections to the whole range of proposed price hikes. Here's how to submit a comment:

  1. Read all the nasty details in this PDF file.
  2. Go here, search for Document ID NARA-07-0001-0001, then click on the Comments icon.
  3. Give them a piece of your mind.
  4. Wait for Dick Cheney to arrive in his black helicopter and whisk you away to Guantanamo Bay.

Apostrophic Anger

Out of concern for the integrity of her surname, Margaret C. O'Connor has founded the Society for the Protection of Apostrophes.

I started the SPA because I was frustrated and angered when computers refused to let me enter my whole name. I received threatening messages - "You have input illegal characters" or "You may only enter letters in this field, not numbers or signs".

I do not consider an apostrophe a number or a sign. I am unable to record my leave application in my work system and cannot register for mandatory courses. I have had to use an alias, without an apostrophe, for such basic functions. [Link]
I expect that The Apostrophe Protection Society will spell her name correctly on their cease-and-desist letter.

Bad News For the Balches

Test results appear to prove that the Balch House of Beverly, Mass.—named, as I mentioned before, for one of my ancestors—is not the oldest wood-frame house in America. Tree-ring samples show that it was probably built in 1678—much later than the Fairbanks House of Dedham, Mass.

Among the Balches, whose ancestors first settled in Beverly in the 1620s, there has been a sense of loss and sadness, mixed with stern defiance. "It is still one of the oldest, probably still in the top 10 or 12, even with these later dates," said Stephen P. Hall, a 12th generation descendant of the Balch House's original occupant, John Balch.

Among the Fairbanks, who first arrived in the colony in 1632, there has been a fair bit of gloating.

"We always knew it," said Lynn Fairbank, a 13th generation descendant of the Fairbanks House's first occupant, Jonathan Fayerbanke. "I have to say that every once in a while, a house crops up and says they're the oldest house, but it never pans out. We're the oldest standing wood-frame house." [Link]

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Will There Be Watermelon Smashing?

Organizers of the Gallagher Global Gathering have invited two famous Gallaghers to the reunion: brothers Liam and Noel of the band Oasis.

A special invitation has been sent out to the Gallagher's management company and organisers are hopeful the brothers will respond.

Adrian [Gallagher] said: "We haven't heard from them yet but it's early days. I think there will be a surge in the next couple of weeks where we'll get more Gallaghers signed up. We've left their places open just in case." [Link]

Errors of Biblical Proportions

Police in England are hoping to return a stolen Bible to its rightful owners. It contains a Pratt family tree tracing the family from 1797 to 1956, but auctioneer Chris Albury says even that would not make the book especially valuable to collectors.

"Most Bibles after 1750 tend to not be worth very much. There are certain editions that make an exception, and the binding can make it an exception if it is particularly attractive."

Some Bibles are valuable for other reasons, such as a famous 17th century edition which had a printing error so the Ten Commandments read 'Thou shalt kill' instead of 'Thou shalt not kill', and another where the word 'vinegar' is used instead of 'vineyard'. [Link]

Graphoanalyzing the Dead

Dolly Copp is well known in my neck of the woods for the campground that surrounds her homestead and bears her name. Irene P. Lambert learned by looking at her handwriting that Dolly was "strong-willed" but "self-conscious, afraid strangers would laugh at her."

Lambert claims to have considerable success with genealogical handwriting analysis.

In 1998, she was tested by the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, which presented her with handwriting samples from James Ball, a colorful figure born about 1783, apparently in Virginia. She was told nothing about the man, not even his sex. She was told only that one writing sample came from a person who was about 30 years old, and another when that same person was about 65 and suffering from rheumatism.

Her analysis closely paralleled the observations of two of Ball's contemporaries, a newspaperman and a judge, and several latter day biographers. [Link, via EOGN]

My, How Things Have Changed

The Internet Archive Wayback Machine lets you see old versions of websites as far back as 1996—around the time I started my first genealogy website. Here's what Ancestry.com looked like on Oct. 28, 1996, and here's RootsWeb from May 1997. Genealogy.com was home to the German Genealogy Home Page in 1996.

Seeing these pages makes me nostalgic for the good old days when nothing I needed was available online.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Papered-Over Profile Puzzles Prolific Parents

A couple in New Salem, Pennsylvania, discovered a man with a big head hiding in their home.

The drawing was discovered under two layers of wallpaper and glue, said Susan Wood, who lives in the home -- at 38 E. George St. -- with her husband, Robert Wood, and nine of their 10 children.

The writing beside the man's profile reads "Papered by M.H. Glatfelter 1911 Sep 24," Susan Wood said.

Until the family can find the true identity of the man on the wall, he will be called by another name.

"We call him Ghost Glatfelter," Susan Wood said. [Link]

Monday, April 23, 2007

An Enterprising Town

In 1985, Riverside, Iowa, declared itself the future birthplace of Star Trek's Captain Kirk, who is scheduled to be born on March 22 in a couple of centuries. The locals even erected a plaque to show the exact place of his conception.

At local bar Murphy's, a plaque states Kirk was "conceived at this point" - hanging on the wall instead of its original spot under the pool table.

"Regulars got a kick out of seeing Star Trek fans crawl under there to look, but it seemed kind of cruel," said Becky Laroche, who works at People's Bank, the town's only bank. [Link]

Ancestry.commercials

I must admit, I kind of like Ancestry.com's new marketing campaign—including the clever ad in this week's issue of Time that teaches the novice how to jazz up her old family photos using scissors and Scotch tape. You'll find all their print, television and radio ads in the Generations Network press room.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Standing in Another Photographer's Shoes

I love the paired images in Flickr's Then and Now Group Photo Pool, though some of the attempts to recreate historical photographs are more successful than others. Irish Hermit's shot of Perkins Square in South Boston is just about perfect.

In Search of a Gene

Megan spotted a fascinating article about Martin Marshall—a man searching for the father he never knew with little more than a first name, Gene, and a genetic match to the Sizemore family. This led him to track down all the Gene Sizemores who might have canoodled with his mother in the spring of 1948.

How many Gene Sizemores could there be in the United States?

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 60, it turns out, and none in Missouri. By consulting an Internet site that offers inexpensive background checks, however, Marshall discovered one Gene Sizemore who had previously lived in the state.

Not only that, this Gene Sizemore had once lived in the town of Louisiana, Mo. Hadn't his mother told him back in 1981 that his father came from a town called Louisiana? Marshall had always assumed that she had been talking about Al Marshall.

But maybe she really meant this man. His real father. Gene. [Link]

Saturday, April 21, 2007

It Also Needs More Car Chases

St. Louis Post-Dispatch book editor Jane Henderson had some good advice for the author of an acclaimed book about the Pilgrims.

Nathaniel Philbrick is condensing his popular "Mayflower" history into a book for middle school students, so I asked whether he couldn't add some cannibalism. The cannibalism in his "In the Heart of the Sea" is one of the things that made that whale story so riveting.

"I've had so many teachers tell me that 'Revenge of the Whale' is the only thing they can get their seventh-grade boys to read, because it has the cannibalism in it," he said with a laugh. ("Revenge of the Whale" is the student-geared version of "In the Heart of the Sea," the true story of a whaling ship sunk by an angry sperm whale.) [Link]

How Much for the Barrel of Legs?

Henry Wenneborg was 16 when a train in Springfield, Illinois, severed his foot.

"Gangrene set in," says his grandson, the Rev. Rick Wenneborg of Chatham Christian Church. "They kept taking off parts of his leg until they amputated it almost up to his hip. He almost lost his life."
Henry recovered, and went on to found a thriving business manufacturing artificial limbs.
After Henry died, many of his creations went to his son, Dick. Dick died in 1989. Five years later, the family held an estate sale in which a lot of Henry's handiwork - including a barrel of legs - was sold. [Link]

Friday, April 20, 2007

Can a Virgin Be an Ancestor?

Saturday is the 81st birthday of Queen Elizabeth, who will soon be paying a visit to the United States. The Telegraph marks the event by suggesting that one of the Queen's distant cousins wasn't really a virgin.

This year's visit is for the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, the first permanent settlement in troubled Virginia, a state named after the Queen's ancestor Elizabeth I. [Link]
I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that by "ancestor" they mean "someone with the same first name who held the same job."

Aristocratic Monkey Business

Californian Paul FitzGerald has lost his 30-year battle to be the 9th Duke of Leinster.

The attempt by Mr FitzGerald of San Francisco to claim the titles had been masterminded by his Aunt Theresa Caudhill, who claimed she was acting on her father’s deathbed wishes.

In her evidence she argued that a switch of identities had led to her father Desmond - the rightful heir who settled in America - being frozen out of the family during the Great War. [Link]
Desmond was thought to have died in the war while serving with the Irish Guards, but secretly (so the story goes) slipped off to Canada, where—like most immigrants—he "was supported by a trust fund and worked as a polo instructor."

Apropos of nothing, this is how the family chose its coat of arms:
The coat of arms of the Dukes of Leinster derives from the legend that John FitzGerald, 1st Earl of Kildare, as a baby in Woodstock Castle, was trapped in a fire when a monkey rescued him. The FitzGeralds then adopted a monkey as their crest, and occasionally use the additional motto Non immemor beneficii (Not forgetful of a helping hand). [Link]

An Epitaph in Need of an Editor

Evergreen Cemetery in Owego, New York, is running out of room—and no wonder, given that it's home to an inscription "which at 135 words, is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for longest epitaph."

Here is a transcription of the lengthy epitaph penned by E. T. Gibson for his ancestors—taken from this too-small photograph:

Well, we got what was coming to us, and here in this burial plot we lie:—

We fourteen skeletons of Gibsons, Tinkhams, Drakes, Pixleys and Curtises, that once were clothed with flesh and lived and loved and laughed and danced and sang and suffered just like you till the God-created life-transmitting spark that had been passed down to us from its beginning died.

But we were not animals, or insects, or plants, which likewise have their life-transmitting sparks, but beings into whom at our birth had been breathed a soul-entity that came directly from God.

And to him our soul-entities have gone to be dealt with by Him as our treatment of others whom He created deserves.

What think you of these beliefs?
Erected in 1935 by E. T. G.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Portrait of a Past Future

Check out these predictions made in 1900 about life in 2000. Some of them were on the mark ("Photographs will reproduce all of Nature’s colors"), some were just wishful thinking ("A university education will be free to every man and woman"), and some were just plain wrong.

There will be No C, X or Q in our every-day alphabet. They will be abandoned because unnecessary.
All cities will have public gymnasiums. A man or woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling.
Insect screens will be unnecessary. Mosquitoes, house-flies and roaches will have been practically exterminated.

One Way to Get Over Death

Double-decker burial plots are very popular at San Gorgonio Memorial Park in California.

JoAnne Gosen, assistant manager of the public cemetery, estimated at least 75 percent of the couples who reserve graves buy the double option, with the casket of the first to die buried deeply and the next on top. About the only restriction is that they share one grave marker.

Mostly, the double-grave occupants are married couples, but some are parents and children and even pairs of cousins. Gosen thinks there are probably friends who are not related at all buried together. [Link]

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What's His Line?

Today's "mystery occupation" in the Chicago Sun-Times business section should be a no-brainer.

Where do you work?
In a library, on the Internet, courthouses, archives, cemeteries, attics, basements.
You're a bit like a detective.
I am exactly like a detective.
Do you actually bring the dead to life?

I would say yes. [Link]
Obviously, Tony Burroughs is a web-savvy asbestos-abatement contractor and vampire hunter with supernatural reanimation powers.

Not a Fly-By-Night Company

A Japanese temple-building company called Kongo Gumi is going out of business. They've been in operation since 578 AD.

Its last president, Masakazu Kongo, was the 40th member of the family to lead the company. He has cited the company's flexibility in selecting leaders as a key factor in its longevity. Specifically, rather than always handing reins to the oldest son, Kongo Gumi chose the son who best exhibited the health, responsibility, and talent for the job. Furthermore, it wasn't always a son. The 38th Kongo to lead the company was Masakazu's grandmother. [Link, via Boing Boing]

Lincoln Slept Uncomfortably Here

The Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society in Illinois has purchased a house where Abraham Lincoln once spent the night. It was owned by Sheriff William Manahan on July 18, 1856.

When Manahan escorted his guest home in 1856, he might have offered Lincoln one of the family beds. Lincoln, accustomed to austere accommodations from years as a circuit-riding lawyer, accepted a night on the couch instead. However, it was too short, so two chairs were placed at the end to support Lincoln's long legs, according to Manahan family legend. [Link]

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Crazy Coffins

Vic Fearn and Company have created some unusual coffins for their clientele, some of which may be seen on their oddly designed Crazy Coffins website.

The list includes kites, corkscrews, a ballet shoe, an electric guitar, a football boot, a sports bag and a replica of a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost.
Among the other designs waiting for their owner is a wooden egg, commissioned by a woman in Wales who wants to be buried upright in the foetal position. [Link]

Monday, April 16, 2007

When Comedy Kills

Just once I'd like to see "Fatal hilarity" written on a death certificate.

In 1660, the Scottish aristocrat, polymath and first translator of Rabelais into English, Thomas Urquhart, is said to have died laughing upon hearing that Charles II had taken the throne.

In 1782, a certain Mrs Fitzherbert is reported to have suffered from an attack of hilarity while she attended a performance of The Beggar's Opera. When Charles Bannister appeared on scene as Peachum, she burst into an uncontrollable laugh so loud that she had to be expelled from the theatre. She laughed continuously all night long and the day after and died early in the morning, the following day.
[Hat tip: xkcd]

Grandmother Not as Dead as He'd Thought

Ian Scott was able to confirm a family story concerning his father and a woman he met while visiting a hospital for the mentally ill.

As the story goes, according to my father, he met a woman that was supposedly “insane” in Belfast who called him “Hugh Scott.” This took my father by surprise; his father was Hugh Scott. My father apparently told the woman that he was John Scott, son of Hugh Scott - and this woman - Annie Moore (today I’ve discovered her official registered name was Anna Moore) then told my father that she was his grandson.

My father replied, “Oh no, that can’t be. My grandmother is dead.”

Annie Moore, according to my father then replied, “Oh, is that what they’ve told you?” [Link]

They Lost Their Lunches

The bones of Col. Joseph Bridger, who died in 1686, were taken up in 1894 and reinterred at St. Luke's Church in Smithfield, Virginia. Forensic anthropologist Douglas Owsley dug up those remains in January for analysis at the Smithsonian.

The first reburial was undertaken in a rather rough way, Owsley said. Those in charge took only enough bones from Bridger's original burial site to fill the tiny chamber allotted to him - and they may have left some of their lunches behind.

"One of the first things handed out to me in January was the left forearm of a rabbit," Owsley said. There also were a chicken bone and bones from a sheep that was less than a year old. [Link]

Death Proven More Popular Than Marriage

JDR at Anglo-Celtic Connections set out to find the top ten genealogy words in the 31,127,950 mailing-list messages archived at Rootsweb.

TEN: Death
Appearing in 2,736,649 documents, death was slightly more popular than marriage, which may say more about marriage than death. Both were mentioned more than birth.

NINE: Daughter
Despite there being more women than men genealogists, males were mentioned more often than females. Daughters were mentioned more than mothers; every mother is a daughter but not every daughter a mother.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

How to Make a Racist Shut Up

William Hoff, Jr., was a virulent racist, and a leader of the National Socialist Movement. According to his brother Sheldon, he was also part African American.

Around 1995, Sheldon uncovered a bombshell, a gem that could have destroyed Wild Bill's credibility with the Nazis - in the 1910 census, their father's family was listed as black. Sheldon eventually traced their black ancestry back to the 1600s.

When he told his brother about his find, Wild Bill brushed it off.

"He was in denial, but after that he never gave us any of his 'white is superior' stuff," Sheldon said. [Link]

Who Says Games Have to Be Fun?

Alvin O. Hall—the Milton Bradley of Cincinnati, Ohio—was granted a patent on Jan. 25, 1881, for a game based on the 1880 census. It was to be played on two identical maps of the United States with blocks bearing the names of 48 census subdivisions ("thirty-eight States, nine territories, and one district"), and a like number of blocks bearing the number of inhabitants in each subdivision.

Either player, for instance No. 1, turns up a block [...] so that the name of the State can be seen, and then both guess at the population in 1880, and the one that has nearest approached the true figure takes the block and places it upon the corresponding State, and if he fails the block is returned to the rest; but if he guessed correctly the block remains on his map until all the blocks have been placed on the map, the player having the most blocks on his map being the winner.
It is not known whether this game was actually inflicted upon the American public.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Does the Marriott Have Queen-Sized Beds?

The Jamestowne Society will be meeting May 12-13 at the Marriott in Williamsburg, Virginia. The question everyone is asking is, will the Queen attend?

[Carole E.] Morck said the Jamestowne Society has asked Queen Elizabeth II to attend their gathering because one of the queen's ancestors, Nicholas Martiau, qualifies her for membership.

Membership in the Order of First Families of Virginia is limited to descendants of those who helped establish Jamestown and the Virginia colony between 1607 and 1624. The group will not entertain requests for membership by anyone not invited into the association, according to the group's listing on The Hereditary Society Community Web site. [Link]

Hours of Unsinkable Fun

Passenger lists from the Titanic are free at findmypast.com for a limited time. No sign of Leonardo DiCaprio or Kate Winslet, but I did spot scapegoat J. Bruce Ismay on page 5 of the Southampton list.

The U.S. National Archives has the passenger list from the Carpathia on its website. You'll find Ismay on page 123A of that manifest, along with some other people who weren't accused of mass murder.

Army Poster Boy Was a Deserter

Marcel Caux died in 2004 at age 105. He was given a state funeral as one of Australia's last five World War I veterans, and an army recruitment poster bearing his image recently won a competition. But soon after his death, historians discovered that he was a deserter and a bigamist.

Ms [Lynette] Silver and Ms [Di] Elliott discovered that records issued in the name of Marcel Caux described the war service of Harold Katte, who was born in 1899 in Marrickville, although some records say Hurstville. Ms Silver points out that he had five names, five signatures, three nationalities, three places of birth, three dates of birth, three mothers, three fathers and two wives, simultaneously.
Though injured three times in battle, Katte's service was not wholly exemplary.
He had gone absent without leave for seven days in July 1917, for which he served 14 days in close confinement. He went AWL again in June 1918, when French authorities arrested him in the port of Brest, where he was said to be posing as a Frenchman. [Link]
Australia placed 376,000 World War I service records online this week, so you can search for the two-timing Aussie deserters in your own family tree.

President Calls for End of '-ov' Endings

Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov has officially changed his surname to "Rakhmon," according to the country's Foreign Ministry.

In efforts to return to Persian roots, the president also appealed to new Tajik parents to follow suit and register new-born babies under Persian surnames and drop Russian-style endings like "-ov" and "-ev."

During the Soviet era, most Tajik residents added Slavic endings to their Persian-style surnames. [Link]

Friday, April 13, 2007

Practice Makes Perfect Census

The Census Bureau will be holding a dress rehearsal for the 2010 enumeration.

This week census officials announced a practice count that will be taken in nine counties around Fayetteville, N.C., and in San Joaquin County, Calif. This year, for the first time, census workers will use satellite technology — hand-held global positioning devices that pinpoint each residence and transmit data instantly.

"You really have to test, test, test because you only get one shot," said Preston Jay Waite, deputy director of the Census Bureau. [Link]
Another takeaway from the article: "The questionnaires for the 2010 census are shorter than any since the first census was taken in 1790." Why bother asking questions when they can just tap your phone and read your emails?

Here are a couple of sites that list historical census questions:

Want a Glimpse of the Future?

Renee Zamora says that FamilySearch Support is looking for volunteers to evaluate the "new FamilySearch." This is from the email she received:

We need to contact individuals interested in family history, including you, but ESPECIALLY those new and inexperienced in family history to spend an hour of their time. We will be testing new and future design ideas not seen on the current beta version of the FamilySearch.org website.
See Renee's post for details, and a link to the sign-up site.

The Source of the Pee Pee

The story of how Pee Pee Township, Ohio, got its name is far less scandalous than I had hoped. It all started in 1785, when four families from the Redstone settlement in Pennsylvania moved to the area.

One of them, Peter Patrick by name, pleased with the country, cut the initials of his name on a beech, near the river, which being found in after times, gave the name of Pee Pee to the creek that flows through the prairie of the same name; and from that creek was derived the name of Pee Pee township in Pike county. [Link]

Tom Wants Tract of Turf

Tom Cruise is looking to buy land in Ireland supposed to have once been owned by his ancestors.

Mr Cruise is believed to have visited the area around Kilteevan three years ago as he traced his Irish roots.

The Collateral star was born Tom Cruise Mapother IV in New York in 1962.

The small ruined cottage included as part of the sale of the farm was once occupied by members of the Mapother family, and Mr Cruise's great grandfather Thomas is said to have emigrated from Roscommon to America in the early part of the last century. [Link]
Umm, make that his great-great-grandfather Dylan Henry Mapother, who emigrated in 1850. Correct country of origin, though!
[Photo credit: tomcruise-1 by Alan Light]

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Maternal Furniture

Swapatorium offers one selection from a collection I'd like to see more of: "photos of mothers disguised as chairs."

[via Boing Boing]

April Showers Bring Free Passenger Lists

Ancestry.com is offering free access to its U.S. Passenger List Collection from April 12 through April 30. This includes the recently added Canadian Border Crossings, 1895-1956. My ancestors from Quebec and New Brunswick would join me in celebrating if they weren't so dead.

Fiorello's Fascinating Sister

Here's something I didn't know: The mother of New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia was Jewish, and his sister—born in Greenwich Village in 1881—was interned by the Nazis. The memoir Gemma LaGuardia Gluck wrote after her return to the United States in 1947 has been re-released 46 years after its first publication. It sounds like a great read for biography buffs.

While Gluck details her time at the Ravensbruck women's concentration camp with great clarity — she is believed to be the only American-born woman interned by the Nazis — the book is about more than that. Her life spanned the great wave of immigration to the United States in the 1880s to the presidency of John F. Kennedy. She grew up in New York City and the Old West, later led a cosmopolitan life in Budapest and lived her last years in a municipal housing project in Long Island City, Queens, built during her brother's term as mayor of New York City. [Link]

Her Ancestors Were Norse, of Course

Carrie Heiser has erected a 6-foot-tall, 800-pound bust of Leif Erikson's grandfather beside her driveway in Duvall, Washington.

Heiser's great-grandfather, Olafur Einarson, made the family's genealogical connection back to Olafur the White during a trip back to Iceland in 1899, she said. He searched through historical records in his hometown of Hafursa, and Heiser's uncle made copies of his research for the rest of the family.
Heiser's three children, ages 13, 17 and 26, didn't initially share her zeal for family history.

"They make fun of my Viking things," the Seattle-born Heiser said. "But now, with Olafur out there, they're intrigued. It put a face to this story I've been telling them." [Link]

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

No Magic Kingdom Visa Stamps?

For the next few days you can bid on Walt Disney's last passport on eBay.

This United States passport is dated August 19, 1965, and was issued to the legendary animator shortly after the giant success of Mary Poppins (1964) and 16 months before his death (December 15, 1966). Disney signed the passport twice in blue ink (as "Walter E. Disney"), including once along the edge of his smiling photo. It bears only one set of visa stamps, for a trip to and from London. [Link, via Boing Boing]

Ass Density and Excessive Females

Among the additions made to the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection this weekend were Henry Gannett's statistical atlases for the 1890 and 1900 censuses. The maps show everything from the population densities of Presbyterians and Scandinavians to death rates due to consumption and typhoid fever. Presented on Plate No. 149 of the 1900 atlas is the "Number of Horses, Mules, and Asses per Square Mile."

Below is a detail from a map showing the "Predominating Sex" in 1890. Though most of the population schedules from that census have been lost, we can see that the East Coast was at that time overrun with females.

The Face of the Great Depression

Perhaps the most famous and haunting photograph from the Great Depression was Dorothea Lange's 1936 "Migrant Mother." Lange identified her subject only as "a 32 year old mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California."

Fast-forward to the late 1970s, when the migrant mother herself, Florence Owens Thompson, came forward in an AP article titled "Woman Fighting Mad Over Famous Depression Photo."

Thompson had written a letter to the editor of her local newspaper expressing her disdain for the image.

In the AP story, Thompson declared that she felt "exploited" by Lange’s portrait. "I wish she hadn’t taken my picture," she declared. "I can’t get a penny out of it. [Lange] didn’t ask my name. She said she wouldn’t sell the pictures. She said she’d send me a copy. She never did." The photo had become yet another cross for Thompson to bear in a lifetime of hardships. [Link, via Kottke.org]
Ironically, Thompson was not a Depression-era migrant to California: she'd been there since 1926. She died in 1983 and was buried in Empire, California, beneath a gravestone that reads: "Migrant Mother–A Legend of the Strength of American Motherhood."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

600 Genealogy Blogs Found

The number of sites categorized at the Genealogy Blog Finder reached 600 tonight. (The footnoteMaven's Genealogy Bloggers' Quilt may someday fill the screen.) Here are some quick highlights:

A couple of familiar websites now have companion blogs: Cyndi's List and Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. Look also for blogs from upstarts like Geni and soon-to-be upstarts like Family Pursuit.

I'm enjoying the transcribed diaries and letters that are popping up on the Web, on blogs like Grandma's Diary, Letters from Home - 1952, and A Burch Tree.

Miriam's AnceStories2: Stories of Me for My Descendants has weekly prompts for the family historian who needs prompting. Some of us need more than prompting. A cattle prod might prove effective.

My ancestors probably crossed paths with and owed money to those of Bill Ives (Ives Family History Blog) and Bill West (West in New England). The least I can do is mention their blogs.

Blogging without an audience is like talking to oneself incessantly—a practice that could get one committed to a hospital in the country. So let's make sure these newcomers get some visitors, and save their loved ones the long drive.

Monday, April 09, 2007

A Balkan Scot

A semi-finalist in the Eurovision Song Contest is from Montenegro—once part of Yugoslavia—but claims Scottish heritage. Stevan Faddy says he descends from Crusader William Faddy.

Speaking about his Scottish roots, he said: "We still have the family coat of arms and other memorabilia, even though it was hundreds of years ago. We also have a Scottish flag at home.

"We don't know much about our original ancestor other than his name, although we know the family goes back more than 1,000 years. My ancestor that settled here was supposed to have been on his way home after the Crusades with King Richard and seems to have fallen in love with the land, and a local woman. It is a lot more sunny than Scotland, I am told." [Link]

Winston's Tribe: Jewish or Iroquois?

DavidB at Gene Expression tackled the question yesterday of Winston Churchill's purported Jewish ancestry. A check of secondary sources revealed no such lineage.

The only serious gap in the official records of Churchill's ancestry is a long way back in the female line, which cannot be traced beyond his great-great-grandmother, Anna Baker. According to family legend, she was part-Iroquois Indian, which the family believed accounted for the prevalence of dark eyes or complexion in the family. This does have a certain whiff of cover-up, but if so the cover-up may be of something other than Jewish blood. According to one account, Churchill himself believed there was a drop of black somewhere in his ancestry (see Elisabeth Kehoe, Fortune's Daughters: The Extravagant Lives of the Jerome Sisters (2004), p.4). In any case, the usual claims of Jewish ancestry concern Churchill's mother's father, Leonard Jerome, and not the female line leading back to Anna Baker.
He concludes that the claims stem from a parenthetical comment—probably tongue-in-cheek—in a 1993 article by Moshe Kohn.

Granny's Speakeasy Finally Busted

Slovakian immigrants Stephen and Mary Mrlak opened the Turf Exchange hotel and bar in Binghamton, New York, two years before Prohibition began. A discovery made recently behind the hotel reveals that, after Stephen's death in 1922, Mary continued peddling illicit booze through a secret passageway.

"Granny always told me if we hadn't sold liquor, we'd have lost the place," said Bob Barcay, 45, from Fort Collins, Colo. Barcay is Mary Mrlak's great-grandson.

The hidden rooms below the parking lot contained wooden kegs, bottles and an elaborate pulley system left to decay since Prohibition was lifted and the rooms were sealed. A team from the Public Archaeology Facility at Binghamton University began an excavation Thursday of the hidden chamber.

"I've been sitting here over the years wondering if anybody would find it," said Norah Barcay, 86, of Colorado Springs, Colo., who is the granddaughter of Mary Mrlak. [Link]

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Looking For One's Own Peeps

Birmingham Public Library found a way to combine genealogy with those sickenly sweet marshmallow Peeps!

Best Actress in a Genealogical Role

Oscar winner Helen Mirren's next project will be a documentary about her Russian roots.

"I'm hoping to get the full family tree, at long last," she said of her forthcoming visit, which will include her attempting to track down the site of her grandfather's family's estate in western Russia, and the family graveyard, and meet long-lost relatives in Moscow.

The documentary, called The Journey, will fulfill a lifelong ambition for Helen. [Link]
Mirren was tipped off as to her Russian heritage by the name on her birth certificate—Ilyena Lydia Mironova.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

It's Never Too Late to Adopt

61-year-old Bob Wilkey became a first-time father on Thursday when he adopted his 41-year-old coworker Darlyn Beam.

Bob is a widower. He has brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews, but never any children of his own.

Darlyn has plenty of children, ranging in age from 16 to 24. But she and her biological father have never been very close.

“It’s just that simple. I need a daughter and she needs a daddy,” Bob said. [Link]

He Patched the President's Pipes

Tim Agazio was right to think I'd be interested in this story. It concerns the passing of Howard "Reds" Arrington, who for 19 years was the White House plumber (no, not one of those guys).

"I did all kinds of things. I got a call once that Mrs. Truman's toilet wasn't flushing right. So I went over there, and all of a sudden up comes these false teeth. They weren't Mrs. Truman's; they were her maid's," Arrington told Life magazine in 1992. "Ike used to drive golf balls down the South Lawn right into the fountain. The water was so deep, he would give me his waders and a ball retriever." [Link]

Achieve Life Balance With Genealogy!

Since Miriam asked, I have achieved balance in my life with the help of Genealogy™.


Before discovering Genealogy™, I was a 97-pound weakling. My cat ignored me and my relatives despised me. Now I weigh 98 pounds, my cat tolerates me, and my relatives hate me for a completely different reason!

Just one dose of Genealogy™ lasts a full 24 hours—long enough for me to climb out of bed, transcribe one census page, then crawl back into bed. Genealogy™ addiction support groups are a great way to meet girls—some of whom are younger than my mother!

Yes, Genealogy™ has changed my life in many ways. No longer do I waste time doing my laundry and taxes. My only concern now is supporting my habit and getting others hooked on Genealogy™!

Warning: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA or The Generations Network. Not recommended for children under 3. May cause drowsiness in others.
[Photo source: Pentothal by eurok]

A Genetic Link in the Ink

If you ever get around to publishing your family history, be sure to include your "source material."

Tokyo-based Ko-sin Printing has developed a printing process that allows authors to add a more personal touch to their printed works by using ink that includes their DNA.
Ko-sin also claims it is possible to extract genetic information from materials printed using this process. When the company sent a sample page to a DNA laboratory, the lab technicians were able to isolate and extract the DNA from the page. [Link, via Neatorama]

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Hobo's Final Home

This post at Neatorama mentions a Hobo Cemetery in Britt, Iowa. The Hobo Museum has a page devoted to the yard, with a listing of those who "caught the Westbound"—useful to anyone related to Slow Motion Shorty, A Man Calld John, or Cardboard.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tylers Tend to Attend

Harrison Tyler—grandson of our tenth president—will play a part in celebrating Jamestown's 400th anniversary. He's genetically predisposed to do so.

Harrison's grandfather, President John Tyler, attended the 200th anniversary jubilee of Jamestown's founding in 1807 and gave the keynote address at the centennial celebration in 1857 on Jamestown Island. Harrison's father, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, who was president of the College of William & Mary for more than twenty years, was a leading advocate of the 1907 Tercentenary, writing numerous books on early Virginia history when America celebrated her 300th anniversary. [Link]

McCoys Are Born Ornery

The long-running feud between the Hatfields and McCoys may have been due in part to a medical condition passed down in one of the families.

Dozens of McCoy descendants apparently have the disease, which causes high blood pressure, racing hearts, severe headaches and too much adrenaline and other "fight or flight" stress hormones.

No one blames the whole feud on this, but doctors say it could help explain some of the clan's notorious behavior.
Affected family members have long been known to be combative, even with their kin. [Rita] Reynolds recalled her grandfather, "Smallwood" McCoy.

"When he would come to visit, everyone would run and hide. They acted like they were scared to death of him. He had a really bad temper," she said. [Link]

A Titanic Omission

Findmypast.com has uploaded a third decade of UK outbound passenger lists, with one important exception.

With the addition of another decade of data to the UK Outbound Passenger lists, records now include an incredible 11.3 million names within 71,600 passenger lists spanning 1890 to 1919.
The only list you’ll find missing for now is RMS Titanic, which we’re saving for the 95th anniversary when the ill-fated ship sank after hitting an iceberg on her maiden voyage on 14 April 1912. But explore now to find details of an earlier, less-celebrated, Titanic.

Expired Copyrights Excite Me

Thanks to Illuminated Heritage for pointing out that Stanford has placed online a Copyright Renewal Database. Included are books published in the U. S. between 1923 and 1963 whose copyrights were renewed between 1950 and 1993 (records since 1978 were already searchable).

Anyone who transcribes data to place online should be aware that anything published before 1923 is fair game, but works from 1923 onwards may still be protected. Here's a snippet from elsewhere on Stanford's excellent copyright site:

Thousands of works published in the United States before 1964 fell into the public domain because the copyright was not timely renewed under the law in effect at that time. If a work was first published before 1964, the owner had to file a renewal with the Copyright Office during the 28th year after publication. No renewal meant a loss of copyright. [Link]
If a work does appear in the database, that means it is protected for an additional 95 years from the date of renewal. A quick check of the database confirms what common sense would suggest: most family histories and locally-produced town histories published before 1964 are in the public domain, and now belong to us all.

Woman Driven to Marry to Drive

Gertrude Don Angelo e Mansfield had to remarry her husband of 59 years to prove that she no longer uses her maiden name.

The Don Angelos were joined in holy matrimony on Oct. 11, 1947, at St. Sylvester's Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., but the couple never obtained a certified state record of their union. They always had a certificate of marriage from the church, but that wasn't good enough when Gertrude, 76, tried to renew her driver's license late last year.
So after 59 years of marriage, the couple came to an awkward realization: They needed to be married once again, simply to get their hands on a state document. [Link]

A Toad for the Ages

A cane toad found in an Australian backyard has been humanely euthanized by conservation officials. But "Joh" may get a second life as a treasured family heirloom.

Now 11-year-old Scott Hogan has put in a request to have Joh's body returned – so he can be stuffed and mounted on the mantelpiece.

"It would make a good conversation piece over dinner, a family heirloom, which we can pass down through the generations," his father Michael Hogan said yesterday. [Link]
[Photo source: cane toad by Michael Henderson]

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Woman Discovers Indians in Bathroom

Barbara Forgas found possible evidence of her Native-American ancestry while tearing down walls in her late grandfather's Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, home.

Did John Gross use pieces of an American Indian mural as insulation because he was thrifty, or was he hiding a valuable artifact he feared would be destroyed by racism?

Maybe he hated the reminder of his ex-wife, Sara Slaseman, and hid her family heirloom out of spite.

Barbara Forgas does not know why her grandfather put 8-foot-wide panels - with painted images of American Indians - inside the walls of a bathroom he built about 70 years ago in his centuries-old farmhouse. [Link]

It's Better Than Anthrax

Swedish authorities want to keep Michael and Karolina Tomaro from naming their daughter after a heavy metal group.

The six-month-old has been baptised Metallica, but tax officials have dubbed the name "inappropriate".

Under Swedish law, both first names and surnames need to win the approval of authorities before they can be used.

Offensive, unsuitable or inappropriate names, as well as those that could "cause discomfort for the one using it" cannot be used. [Link]

You Can't Get Blood From a Stone, But You Can Repossess It

John Tate failed to pay the £740 he owed for the headstone on his 14-year-old son's grave. So, the memorial company repossessed it.

The stone was put in place at Joe's grave in Holy Cross Cemetery, Wallsend, on December 5 last year.

But on Friday a worker was spotted hammering at the foundations and breaking the stone free before taking it away.
Greg Brown, 60, owner of Brown Memorials, said it was the first time in 40 years of business he had been forced to remove a headstone.
"I've been doing this 40 years and this is the only occasion I've had to take a headstone down. The last thing I want is to remove it, I'd prefer to be paid." [Link]

An Action Hero With Ancestors

Nicolas Cage plays a typical family historian in the upcoming sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets. In fact, the plot sounds suspiciously like my usual summer vacation, but with more gunfire.

In the film, Cage plays treasure hunter Ben Gates, whose ancestor is implicated in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. He sets off on a globe-trotting adventure to clear his family name and find a missing treasure along the way. [Link]

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Papa Was a Rolling Stone's Jones

We all have different ways of honoring our fathers. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards inhaled his.

"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father," Richards was quoted as saying by British music magazine NME.

"He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared," he said. "... It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive." [Link]
[Thanks, John!]

A Very Deserving Fellow

Civil War veteran James Kindred Williams and wife Elizabeth had their first child in 1869. 27 years and 15 children later, Elizabeth had had enough.

In 1896, Williams filed for divorce, alleging that his wife "refused to give to him what God and nation said he deserved."

Lizzie Williams, who moved in with one of her children, did not respond to her husband's allegations.

The courts did not resolve the divorce until March 15, 1898, when a judge "dissolved" the marriage "on account of voluntary abandonment." [Link]
James soon after found a woman who would give him what he deserved, and six additional children besides.

Sketching Fetching Models

Jonathan Stayer spoke Sunday to the South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society about the wide range of materials available at the Pennsylvania State Archives, where he is reference archivist. I'd love to take a peek at these records:

There are dog records. York County was the only county, Stayer said, where dog owners actually sketched out a picture of the beloved canines on their applications. [Link]

Monday, April 02, 2007

Time to Get a New Horse

Who knew that you can tell time using a top-hatted man sitting on a dead horse? Colleen Fitzpatrick, Andrew Yeiser, and Sharon Sergeant figured out that the now-famous photo was taken on Sept. 21, 1871, at 4:30 p.m. (give or take a few seconds), having noticed that the shadows in the photograph run east-west—a phenomenon that they say occurs only on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

Considering a top hat and tails are not the proper attire for Sheboygan in March when the average temperature is about 32 degrees, the date the picture must have been Sept. 22-23.

What about the time of day? Mr. Dapper is not only holding down the dead horse, he is also acting as a sundial. By measuring the length of his shadow on the street, Colleen and Andy were able to calculate the angle of the sun in the sky. This told them that the photo was taken at 4:30 p.m. (Time zones were not used until 1918, so there is no need to correct for standard time.) [Link]
The first of two articles on their findings appeared in The Sheboygan Press yesterday, with the second installment coming next week. The team claims to have found a "full-sized steam-belching locomotive" in the picture, but I could find it only if it wore a red-striped shirt.

You can see more clues and join the hunt at Ancestral Manor, or try your hand at the latest photo quiz at Forensic Genealogy.

Previously at The Genealogue:

Genealogists Gone Wild!

To celebrate the launch of its RootsTube channel, Roots Television has announced the Wild Roots! contest with a grand prize of $500.

While submissions of all things genealogical are welcome, viewers are invited to tell the world about the craziest thing they ever did in their quest to learn about their heritage. Did you accidentally pull an all-nighter at your computer? Did you cross a field with a bull in it to get to an old cemetery? Did you purposely get yourself locked into a library overnight? If so, we want to hear about it. You can tell your tale directly to the camera, re-enact it, animate it, use hand puppets or whatever appeals to you. Do it by yourself or with your sister, research buddies, fellow society members, or that 6th cousin of yours in New Zealand. On May 15, 2007, Roots Television will select and announce the winner of the Wild Roots! contest. [Link]
I think I'll submit a video about the time I woke up at the Family History Center wearing nothing but microfiche. I'd better get working on some hand puppets.

An Unusual Christian Birth

The oddest thing happened last month on remote Pitcairn Island: for only the second time in 21 years, a baby was born.

Adrianna Tracey Christian, born on March 3, is Nadine Christian's fourth child and a ninth generation descendant of Fletcher Christian, the Bounty mutineer who settled the Pacific island in 1790.

Because of the difficulty of getting medical treatment on the isolated, inaccessible island, for the past 21 years the island's women - with the exception of Mrs Christian - have travelled to New Zealand to give birth, leaving Pitcairn six months into their pregnancy and making the long journey by boat and plane. [Link]

Historical Society Has Cabin Fever

The Campbell County Historical Society in Kentucky has set out to document all the surviving log cabins in the region. Some are rotting away in the woods, but others are hiding in plain sight.

The white frame house in Grants Lick bought in 1990 by Randy and Kathy Teegarden turned out to be a 150-year-old cabin. After years of labor, the Teegardens have restored the original cabin and created a new addition.

"It was a white frame house, everybody thought," Randy Teegarden said. "Even the older people thought it was a white house. They kept adding layers. I took four or five layers off outside. I knew it was a log cabin immediately when I walked in the kitchen. That doorway was 15 inches thick." [Link]

How to Stalk a Talk-Show Host

The New York Times has an entertaining article about genealogists who will go to any length to obtain DNA samples from possible relatives.

To her husband’s dismay, Melissa Robards, nee Springer, has spent more than $1,000 testing Springers around the country to see if they are related. She has been known to send flowers to stubborn holdouts.

More drastic measures may be necessary to secure DNA from the talk-show host Jerry Springer, who has so far ignored her three e-mail messages. Ms. Robards, a 55-year-old mother of two in Sparks, Nev., has not entirely dismissed posing as a cross-dresser to get on his show. [Link]
[Photo credit: Jerry Springer by Brett Weinstein]

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A CAPITAL IDEA

YOU MIGHT HAVE NOTICED A CHANGE IN THE LOOK OF THE GENEALOGUE TODAY. I'VE RECEIVED SEVERAL COMPLAINTS OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS THAT THE TEXT OF THIS WEBSITE IS TOO SMALL FOR THE AVERAGE GENEALOGIST TO READ—THE AVERAGE GENEALOGIST BEING ROUGHLY THE AGE OF THE AVERAGE GLAUCOMA PATIENT. I AM ALWAYS ATTENTIVE TO THE NEEDS OF MY READERS, AND THINK THAT THIS CHANGE WILL ACCOMMODATE THEM NICELY.

THE USE OF ALL CAPITAL LETTERS MAY HAVE THE UNINTENDED EFFECT OF MAKING EVERYTHING I WRITE SEEM URGENT. TO AVOID CONFUSION, FROM NOW ON ANY PASSAGE WHICH I INTEND TO EMPHASIZE WILL BE FOLLOWED BY MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!

AS AN ADDED SERVICE TO ANY BLIND GENEALOGISTS WHO VISIT THIS BLOG, SELECTED TEXT FROM THE GENEALOGUE WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE IN BRAILLE. IF YOUR COMPUTER MONITOR WAS MANUFACTURED AFTER 2004, IT SHOULD BE BRAILLE-READY. SIMPLY RUN YOUR FINGERS OVER THE FOLLOWING LETTERS TO READ A SPECIAL MESSAGE.

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