Thursday, July 31, 2008

Oh, Now It Makes Sense

Another case from Eugene Volokh's archives, this one concerning a boy named by his mother "Weather'By Dot Com Chanel Fourcast Sheppard."

The Court: Where did you get the "Dot Com"?

Sheppard: Well, when I worked at NBC, I worked on a Teleprompter computer.

The Court: All right.

Sheppard: All right, and so that's where the Dot Com [came from]. I just thought it was kind of cute, Dot Com, and then instead of — I really didn't have a whole lot of names because I had nothing to work with. I don't know family names. I don't know any names of the Speir family, and I really had nothing to work with, and I thought "Chanel"? No, that's stupid, and I thought "Shanel," I've heard of a black little girl named Shanel.

The Court: Well, where did you get "Fourcast"?

Sheppard: Fourcast? Instead of F-o-r-e, like your future forecast or your weather forecast, F-o-u, as in my fourth son, my fourth child, Fourcast. It was --

The Court: So his name is Fourcast, F-o-u-r-c-a-s-t?

Sheppard: Yes.... [Link]

Buster Blames the Booze

Buster Martin (about whom I've written before) still claims to have been born in 1906. He thinks he knows why some records assign him a 1913 birth date, keeping him from being recognized as the world's oldest marathon runner.

"I celebrated me seventh birthday in a pub with a pint and a cigar," he says. He first went to the doctors in his 70s, he reckons, and was asked how long he had been smoking and drinking. "All my life - since 1913," he replied, referring to the year he says he took up smoking. The doctor "never actually asked me my date of birth. He was probably coming to that and he put 1913. I'm not worried about that, but when somebody asks me a question I've got a very retentive mind and I can always remember the words that were said." Besides, he casts doubt on the doctor's record-keeping with a delightful embellishment: he later saw him drinking "double-doubles" down the pub. [Link]

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

They Might Be Crazy

Eugene Volokh's hobby is "Fun Name Change Cases." Such as that of the man who changed his name to "They" (no last name).

OK, said a Missouri judge to a petition by the inventor formerly known as Andrew Wilson. They (not they, They) explained the rationale: "'They do this,' or 'They're to blame for that.' Who is this 'they' everyone talks about? 'They' accomplish such great things. Somebody had to take responsibility." [Link, via kottke]

Queen Had a Considerable Caboose

Queen Victoria's very large bloomers have sold at auction for £4,500.

The knickers have a 50in (127cm) waist and date from the 1890s, which indicates the monarch had a large girth as she approached her old age.
Auctioneer Charles Hanson said: "These pants, considering their provenance and pedigree, are very exciting... we know that they are hers [Queen Victoria]."

Mr Hanson said the bloomers were an interesting piece of social history that indicated Queen Victoria was "a very big lady of quite small stature with a very wide girth". [Link]

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Genealogue Challenge #133

Charles Van Doren has finally written about his involvement in the quiz-show scandal of the late 1950s. But this challenge concerns the first person he beat on Twenty One, Herb Stempel.

On what date did Herb's paternal grandparents marry, and did his grandfather wear a hat on that day?

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Jeanealogical Post

Someone is selling a really old pair of Levi's on eBay.

This old pair of LEVI'S were found in a mine in the Rand Mining District, on the Mojave Desert,. California. They are covered in candlewax from the candle's the miner was using to light the tunnel he was working in. They were found with and old paper bag with the name of a mercantile store which operated between 1895 and 1898 in the town or Randsburg. Their was also a gunny sack with the initials A.P.K. and Randsburg marked on it. A.P.K. is through to be Adam P. Kuffel who was a partner in the mercantile store. [Link, via Reference Library by way of kottke]

The More Things Don't Change, The More They Stay the Same

Futility Closet offers this "singular coincidence":

On the 13th of February 1746, as the records of the French criminal jurisprudence inform us, one Jean Marie Dunarry was brought to the scaffold for murdering his father; and, strangely enough, on the 13th of February, 1846, precisely one hundred years later, another Jean Marie Dunbarry, a great-grandson of the first-mentioned criminal, paid the same penalty for the same crime.

Frank H. Stauffer, The Queer, the Quaint and the Quizzical, 1882

Sunday, July 27, 2008

So Where's Your Goose Foot, Marie-Pierre?

Through genealogical research, Marie-Pierre Manet-Beauzac discovered that she is a Cagot—one of Western Europe's "untouchables."

Cagots were forbidden to enter most trades or professions. They were forced, in effect, to be the drawers of water and hewers of wood. So they made barrels for wine and coffins for the dead. They also became expert carpenters: ironically they built many of the Pyrenean churches from which they were partly excluded.

Some of the other prohibitions on the Cagots were bizarre. They were not allowed to walk barefoot, like normal peasants, which gave rise to the legend that they had webbed toes. Cagots could not use the same baths as other people. They were not allowed to touch the parapets of bridges. When they went about, they had to wear a goose's foot conspicuously pinned to their clothes. [Link]

A Sturgeon Story

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog has a great story concerning a 3rd cousin twice removed and a sturgeon. The cousin is confirmed dead; the sturgeon's whereabouts are unknown.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Genealogue Challenge #132

Actor David Strathairn has some very interesting genes.

What was the full maiden name of his paternal grandmother, and where were her grandfathers born?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Top Ten Signs Your Ancestor Was a Superhero

10. Family crest features radioactive spider.

9. Death certificate says he was "Vanquished while defending humanity from the forces of evil. Contributing cause of death: chronic alcoholism."

8. Turned invisible whenever the census taker came around.

7. Described in Ellis Island records as "mild mannered," but free of typhoid.

6. Family reunions announced by Bat Signal.

5. Secret identity revealed during prosecution for bigamy.

4. All written accounts of his life include advertisements for X-ray glasses and Sea Monkeys.

3. Called the outhouse his "Fortress of Solitude."

2. Abandoned family to spend more time with his "sidekick" Trixie.

1. No one liked him when he was angry.

Tag-Team Triplets

It seems that Darla and Mark Pritchard were having trouble conceiving...

Two attempts at in-vitro fertilization had failed, and they were about to make a third try when Darla's twin sister, Dana Johnson, offered to be a surrogate, to up the odds of success. Darla and Mark took her up on the offer.

It turned out both women, 39, got pregnant when Mark's fertilized eggs were implanted.

On Feb. 27, Darla gave birth to twins, Mallory and Wesley and, six weeks later, Dana had a girl, Mattie.

They're considered triplets and biological siblings. [Link]
[Thanks, Nancy!]

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lucky Look-alikes

Identical twins Diane and Darlene Nettemeier married identical twins Craig and Mark Sanders.

The sets of twins, from Texas, fell in love, went on a double date to Las Vegas, and won thousands of dollars at poker.

Sensing they were on a winning streak, they got engaged on the same day, married at a joint ceremony (officially "quarternary marriages"), and built a pair of homes, side by side.

Soon afterwards, despite a million-to-one odds, Diane and Craig went on to have identical twins of their own - Colby and Brady, now seven. [Link]

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Pappenfus Putzes

Greg Pappenfus tends the heirloom tomatoes that his great-grandparents brought over from Germany.

"Grandma always told us, 'I hope you keep the Pappenfus tomato going,'" he said. And so he has, although he admits to certain years of feeling overwhelmed. "They take a lot of putzing." The strain is so old that it lacks resistance to bugs and diseases, so the plants need to be dusted with a fungicide and hand-watered to keep the leaves dry.
Digging a rather oblong hole, they laid about two-thirds of the plant horizontally in the ground. "The roots always had to point south."


He shrugged. "Because they always did."

Even more putzing. [Link]

Monday, July 21, 2008

Leaving Dog Rump Creek Behind

Main Street in Stony Plain, Alberta, was moved five kilometers north in 1907, to be nearer the railroad.

There wasn't much town to move -- just the Miller Brothers General Store, the front section of the Oppertshauser Hardware Store and a blacksmith shop owned by Jacob Schram, said [Doug] Laurie.

The townsmen hitched up their nine horses and mules and used a series of skids to tow the buildings.

"They laid trees down so they wouldn't sink into the swamp," Laurie said. "Strangely enough, they got (the buildings) straight." [John] MacDonald applied for a post office and chose a name for the little town along the tracks. In 1908, Stony Plain was born, turning the page on the old name, Dog Rump Creek. [Link]

Holy #1

Sharon's research suggests that George Carlin did not witness his grandfather going upstairs to #3 his wife.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Simple as Black and White (or Is It?)

An Arizona state crime lab analyst discovered that two felons had very similar genetic profiles.

The men matched at nine of the 13 locations on chromosomes, or loci, commonly used to distinguish people.

The FBI estimated the odds of unrelated people sharing those genetic markers to be as remote as 1 in 113 billion. But the mug shots of the two felons suggested that they were not related: One was black, the other white. [Link]
Of course, mug shots can be deceiving.
Some things aren’t always black and white. Then again, sometimes they are – like the twin sons born July 11 to a German couple.

The first baby that was born, Ryan, has light skin and blue eyes. His brother, Leo, is dark-skinned with brown eyes.

"None of us could believe it," the maternity ward's head doctor, Birgit Weber, told one news source. "Both kids have definitely the same father." [Link]

Eau de Humanity

Residents of Switzerland living near Lake Constance would prefer not to have dead Germans in their drinking water.

Officials from both countries believe Germans are depositing hundreds of cremated bodies in the lake every year, but because of local regulations they must do so only on the Swiss side of the lake.

Now Swiss newspapers and politicians are angrily denouncing the trend, which they say is turning Lake Constance, which attracts 12 million tourists every year, into "the lake of the dead".

"Do I want the ashes of dead people in the water I am drinking?" said Marco Baumann, an environment official in Thurgau canton. [Link]

The Year When Nothing Much Happened

Right below the beavers and flour barrels on New York City's official seal is the year 1625.

There’s just one problem: Most historians say the year has hardly any historical significance.

The first settlers arrived in what would become part of New York City on a Dutch ship as early as 1623; some say 1624. The Dutch “purchased” Manhattan in 1626. The first charter was granted in 1653.

And the most notable event of 1625? Dutch settlers moved their cattle to Lower Manhattan from Governors Island. [Link]

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Thank God a Genealogist Was Nearby

Robert Buckler turned up a strange lump of iron while tilling his garden.

It seemed peculiar, but the busy Buckler tossed it to the side until after finishing his work.

Buckler’s wife Shirley, who has worked in genealogy for some time, told her husband it could be a cannonball and possibly dangerous. “It was about the size of a softball,” he said. “I washed it off and even tapped it on the concrete. Shirley said it could be a cannonball and possibly dangerous if it contained black powder.” [Link]
A bomb technician was consulted and declared that the cannonball (probably Confederate) could be safely tapped on the concrete, and that Robert was in no danger of becoming the latest casualty of the Civil War.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Plaid for the Promised Land

Rabbi Mendel Jacobs has helped design the first official Jewish tartan.

The Tartan playing field has widened considerably in recent years: The Tartans Authority has registered patterns for Sikhs, Chinese, the state of Indiana and the Fire Department of New York’s bagpipe band. But it wasn’t until last year that Jacobs, a Glasgow Lubavitch rabbi, decided it was time for the members of his congregation and beyond to be able to “combine their Scottish heritage and Jewish heritage together.”

“People connect with their Judaism in different ways,” he told The Shmooze. “They might not wear a regular kippah, but they might wear a Jewish Tartan kippah.” [Link]

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nasty Nazi Nearly Denuded

Axel Nelson and his family went to the North Dakota Heritage Center last Thursday to view a Nazi uniform he donated back in 1958.

Scott Nelson recounted the story his uncle told him.

The war was coming to an end in the spring of 1945, and many of the soldiers and leaders were taking off their uniforms and to keep a low profile.

Staff Sgt. Axel Nelson was traveling through Germany with his division when they came across a Nazi politician in Ortsgruppenleiter uniform who was "showing obvious contempt" for the American soldiers passing by.

Sgt. Nelson, who spoke German, pulled his jeep over and told the man to remove his uniform. When the Nazi refused, Nelson pointed his weapon at the man's head and repeated his demand. Nelson then left the man standing in his underwear. [Link]

Raised on the Rock

Linda Stevens spent part of her childhood on Alcatraz Island.

For her 76th birthday, Stevens and 30 relatives toured the building that housed the families of prison guards, including her dad. "This was part of our growing up, and it was a wonderful place to grow up as a kid," Stevens said.
Stevens remembers a failed escape attempt when guards marched two recaptured prisoners right past the children, stark naked. And she has memories of The Rock's most famous resident, mob boss Al Capone. "We used to go out on the deck and see Al Capone's mother come to visit him, and she always had a big, long fur coat on. And dressed to the hilt," she said. [Link]

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

They Said 'I Do' And They Did

Seven siblings in South Carolina have each been married for more than fifty years.

Totaled, they have been wed nearly four centuries.

They are five brothers and two sisters, ranging in age from 70 to 86. They have been married anywhere from 50 years to 61.

Clearly, the children of Walter and Rosabel Williamson took their vows seriously. Like their parents, married 53 years, they said, "I do," and meant it.

"We were taught, early on, that you make a commitment, you stick to it," said Charles Williamson, 82. The Tucker resident and his 79-year-old wife, Mabel, were wed July 17, 1949. "You marry the right folks, too." [Link]

Aussie PJs MIA

An Australian city has asked Queen Elizabeth to return her uncle's pajamas.

The handmade silk bedclothes were in fact a gift presented to the then Prince of Wales, who was later crowned King Edward VIII, during a visit to Ballarat in southeast Australia in 1920.

But now the people of Ballarat want their gift returned so it can be publicly displayed with the city's other historical relics.

Local historians wrote to the Queen at Windsor Castle asking for the Royal Collection to be searched and the pyjamas returned. [Link]
Royal archivists believe that Edward may have taken the pajamas with him when he abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson in 1936.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mingled With Portions of Hannah

Extracted from Quaint Epitaphs, by Susan Darling Safford:

Beneath this stone our baby lays
He neither crys or hollers.
He lived just one and twenty days,
And cost us forty dollars.

Here lie two grandsons of
John Hancock, first signer of the
Declaration of Independence.
(Their names are respectively Geo. M.
and John H. Hancock)
and their eminence hangs on
their having had a grandfather.

Here lies my wife a sad slatterned shrew
If I said I regretted her I should lie too.

Here lies the body of Sarah Sexton
She was a wife that never vexed one.
But I can't say as much for the one at the next stone.

Here lies John Higley whose father and mother were drowned in their passage from America. Had they both lived they would have been buried here.

A man had cremated four wives, and the ashes, kept in four urns, being overturned and fallen together, were buried at last and had this droll inscription:

Stranger pause and shed a tear,
For Mary Jane lies buried here.
Mingled in a most surprising manner
With Susan, Marie and portions of Hannah.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What Is This 'Paper Trail' of Which You Speak?

Roy Blackmore believes that he has compiled the largest documented family tree in the world.

He has spent around £20,000 and five hours a day for the past 28 years scouring archives, cemetery records and census registers to trace his roots back 1,500 years.
He has now traced and listed 9,390 ancestors and applied to the Guinness Book of Records for the title of the world's largest documented family tree.

Experts say his study is "unique" because most of his research was carried out before the birth of the internet - meaning he had to follow a paper trail. [Link]

Genealogue Challenge #131

Actress Evelyn Keyes died July 4th in California.

"I have no roots," she told The New York Times in 1977. "I deliberately set out to destroy them, and I did.

"If there's any such thing as a hometown for me, it's Hollywood. I was formed here as an adult." [Link]
Boy, that sounds like a challenge to me.

On what date did her father die, and when did his parents die?

Bank by Mail

Not only could you send babies by parcel post, one guy mailed a bank in 1916.

The freight charges to ship the bricks to Vernal were about 4 times more expensive than what the bricks cost. In a stroke of creative genius, Coltharp decided he would have the bricks mailed to the small town, taking advantage of the cheap parcel post rates.
As the post offices began to get overwhelmed by the cartons of bricks, the postmasters began to get frantic. Ultimately the entire quota of bricks were delivered, but the post office changed their regulations. The new rules stipulated that the sender and receiver could only ship or receive a total of 200 pounds of goods in a single day. In a clarification of the rule, the postal administration indicated that "it is not the intent of the United States Postal Service that buildings be shipped through the mail." [Link, via Neatorama]

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Looked for Cousins, Found Cows

A Swiss genealogist seems to have found examples of a breed of cow thought extinct since 1975.

Retired Swiss economist Roger Pasquier rediscovered what are thought to be Fribourg cows, imported from Switzerland in the 1930s, while investigating his family roots in Punta Arenas in southern Chile.
"I notice much more interest for the cows than for the Swiss emigrants," said Pasquier, who has published a book entitled, The people of Fribourg and their descendants in Chilean Patagonia. [Link]

Census Bureau to Break Up Thousands of Marriages

Same-sex married couples won't be counted as married couples in the 2010 census.

The Census Bureau does not ask about sexual orientation, but it does ask people to describe their relationships to others in their household. If a respondent refers to a person of the same gender as their "husband/wife" on the 2010 census form, the Census Bureau will automatically assign them to the "unmarried partner" category. Legally married same-sex couples will be indistinguishable in census data from those who chose "unmarried partner" to describe their relationship. [Link]

He Couldn't Wait to Get Divorced

Not only is John McCain Panamanian, he's also a bigamist. Sort of. Well, no, not really.

Although McCain suggested in his autobiography that months passed between his divorce and remarriage, the divorce was granted April 2, 1980, and he wed Hensley in a private ceremony five weeks later. McCain obtained an Arizona marriage license on March 6, 1980, while still legally married to his first wife. [Link]

Don't Perforate Your Porcelain

The owner of a 250-year-old Chinese porcelain vase has learned an important lesson about not drilling holes in 250-year-old Chinese porcelain vases.

It had a sticker on the bottom saying '14 dollars' and was presumed to be worthless. It was passed down through the family until, 40 years ago, an ancestor drilled a small hole through it so it could be used as an electric lamp.

It was only when the porcelain was remarked upon by a family friend that its true value was discovered.

Experts told its woman owner, from south-west London, it would have been worth £250,000 without the hole and if it had been accompanied by its matching pair. [Link]
Even so, it was appraised at £20,000.

McCain an Unnaturally Born American?

According to Prof. Gabriel J. Chin, John McCain was un-American for the first year of his life.

At the time of Mr. McCain’s birth, the relevant law granted citizenship to any child born to an American parent “out of the limits and jurisdiction of the United States.” Professor Chin said the term “limits and jurisdiction” left a crucial gap. The Canal Zone was beyond the limits of the United States but not beyond its jurisdiction, and thus the law did not apply to Mr. McCain.

In 1937, Congress addressed the problem, enacting a law that granted citizenship to people born in the Canal Zone after 1904. That made Mr. McCain a citizen, but not one who was naturally born, Professor Chin said, because the citizenship was conferred after his birth. [Link]

Friday, July 11, 2008

Gimme a Passport, S'il Vous Plaît

Marie Mance Vallee's family has lived in Quebec for centuries, but she's petitioning the French government for a dual-citizenship passport.

Vallee originally requested duel [sic] citizenship in 2006, but was turned down because rules then stipulated her family must have resided in France in the last 50 years.

However, a new law says anyone can claim French citizenship as long as they can prove that they have ancestors who were born in France, explained Christian Neron, a Quebec City lawyer.

Neron provided Vallee with a legal argument to back up her request for citizenship. He believes Vallee is the first old-stock Quebecer to request French citizenship because of her colonial links. [Link]
My maternal grandfather was French Canadian, so I guess I'll be blogging next summer from Saint-Tropez.

The Big Sleep

French mathematician Abraham de Moivre accurately predicted the date of his own death.

He noted that he was sleeping 15 minutes longer each day and surmised that he would die on the day he slept for 24 hours. That date, he calculated, would be Nov. 27, 1754.

He was right. [Link]

Thursday, July 10, 2008

His 'Pickle' Needed Pepper and Salt

"Lord" Timothy Dexter of Massachusetts published his autobiographical A Pickle for the Knowing Ones; or Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress (presented here with "translation") in 1802.

He wrote about himself and complained about politicians, clergy and his wife. The book contained 8,847 words and 33,864 letters, but absolutely no punctuation, and capital letters were sprinkled about at random.
When people complained that it was hard to read, for the second edition he added an extra page - of punctuation marks - asking readers to "peper and solt it as thay plese". [Link]

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Typhus Outbreak Will Cost You Extra

Bounce Music and Entertainment supplied actors dressed as poor immigrants for a corporate event held at Ellis Island.

As guests arrived, the peasants rode the boats with them, acting out the kind of discussions that real immigrants might have had. And on arrival at the island the guests were met by "peasant" musicians including an Irish tenor and a small klezmer group.

It's the kind of business that Vali is looking to do more of at Bounce. He is, for instance, looking to produce a full scale script that the "peasants" could follow for such events. [Link, via Megan's Roots World]

BackTrack's Back!

I am very pleased to see that Sharon is back blogging at BackTrack. If enough of us subscribe to her feed, perhaps we can keep her from straying again.

A Much Married Man

Wilanne Stangel spotted an message board posting about her dad, William J. Stangel.

"It was about a 3-year-old listing. It was a man who was looking for information about his father, William James Stangel."

Her response to Rolf "K.C." Stangel led to the realization that William Stangel had fathered them by different mothers. In the more than four years since the discovery, the Stangels have located two more half-siblings they hadn't known about and found records of at least 10 marriages involving their father, who died in 1974.

"We're at the point now where we're continually looking," said Wilanne Stangel, who is 48 years old and works as a librarian at Villa Madonna Academy. [Link]
[Thanks, J. Hansen!]

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

He'll Never Succeed at Succeeding

Robin Bryan is a third cousin of the Queen, and 496th in the line of succession to the British throne.

When last tracked down he was living in a ‘seedy’ part of Toronto, Canada, where he was working as a municipal gardener.

Bryan’s mother sold nylons in a New York department store and advertised bubble gum, and the only legacy of his royal bloodline was a few pieces of crested china, which had once belonged to his great-grandmother — Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Beatrice.

Every time he looks in the mirror, though, he says he sees a Hanoverian. As for potential heirs, he is the father of three illegitimate children by three different women. [Link]
More people whose faces you'll never see printed on currency here.

Monday, July 07, 2008

You've Got to Hide Your Anachronisms Away

The York (Pa.) Sunday News had an interesting article on the cost of being a Civil War re-enactor.

It costs $1,500 to $2,300 to authentically fight, dress and camp as if it's July 1863 and you're an infantryman in the Federal or Confederate army.
If you wear glasses, as [Keith] MacGregor does, another expense are antique spectacles with prescription lenses.

"The idea behind re-enacting is you want to keep all modern anachronisms away from the public view," he said.

"You're putting forth an impression of 1860s America, and you want to remain there as much as possible. You don't want to be sitting there with a plastic bottle of soda." [Link]
[Photo credit: Gettysburg by Joe Shlabotnik]

Supply Your Own Scalps

As Janice mentioned a couple of years ago, the New Hampshire Historical Society is selling bobbleheaded dolls of famous figures in Granite State history.

The latest additions to the New Hampshire Historical Society's "bobblehead" series are Chief Passaconaway, a respected leader of the Pennacook tribe, and Hannah Duston, who famously killed and scalped her Native American captors during a daring escape.
The Hannah Duston figure is modeled after a statue of her in Haverhill, Mass., not the one in Boscawen. In New Hampshire's version, "In one hand, she's holding her hatchet, but in the other she's holding the scalps," [Society executive director Bill] Veillette said.

After some consideration, he decided "it would be kind of icky to buy something with somebody holding bleeding scalps." [Link]

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Buried at the Ball Park

Ken McCracken has determined that Capt. William McCracken, Jr., was the last American soldier to die in the Revolutionary War, and that he is buried somewhere in Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park. The grave is in one of two locations:

-- Deep under the far southwest corner of the ballpark footprint, along Joe Nuxhall Way, south of the team's Hall of Fame. That spot would be a fenced-in, AstroTurf-covered rectangle next to the Rose Garden. The garden marks the spot where Pete Rose's record-breaking hit No. 4,192 landed in 1985.

-- Across Joe Nuxhall Way from the fenced-in space. Teeming with earth-moving equipment, that spot is the future home of a parking garage serving the proposed Cincinnati Riverfront Park and The Banks project.

"That's as close as I can narrow it down after well over a decade of genealogical research trying to see if I'm related to this man. I feel very confident I've got my facts straight," said Ken McCracken, an amateur historian. [Link]
[Thanks, J. Hansen!]

[Photo credit: nice day by Robert Meeks]

Friday, July 04, 2008

A President's Residence

Kathryn Larcher sent me a link to this article about the discovery of George Washington's boyhood home.

Artifacts from the Washington period were crucial. These included wine bottles, knives and forks, pieces of small figurines, wig curlers, bone toothbrush handles and a clay pipe with a Masonic crest that just possibly was George’s. Fragments of an elaborate Wedgwood tea set, presumably belonging to Mary Washington, showed that the family’s fortunes had revived after the hardships immediately following the father’s death. [Link]
In related news, archaeologists in New Haven, Connecticut, have discovered the actual silver spoon George W. Bush had in his mouth when born.
[Thanks, Kathryn!]

Sorry, Jesse, the Afterlife is Integrated

Like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Monroe and Eva Gabor, Senator Jesse Helms has died on the Fourth of July. I have to say that I was shocked and saddened to learn that he hadn't died years ago.

From Wikipedia:

Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker noted in his memoirs that Helms had "the 'humorous habit'" of calling all black people "Fred".
A MeFi commenter compares this to the demeaning practice of calling all Pullman porters "George":
In 1916 the Society for the Prevention of Calling Sleeping Car Porters “George” (SPCSCPG) was founded by a wealthy Chicagoan, George William Dulany, Jr. Over the following two decades the society’s ranks swelled to over 30,000 people, all named George and including French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, George Herman “Babe” Ruth, and King George II of Greece. The SPCSCPG was partly a half-joking expression of the annoyance the Georges felt at sharing a nickname with the African-Americans who staffed the Pullman Company’s sleeping cars. However, there were those among the society’s Georges who saw and objected to the racism involved in the practice; in the antebellum South slaves were often called by their masters’ first names, and the Pullman Porters were viewed as something like the slaves of George Pullman. [Link]
Me, I call all the bigots I meet "A**hole."

A Forebear's Formidable Fare

Five siblings in Australia are recreating their grandfather Charlie Heard's world-record taxicab ride. Charlie drove Ada Beal and two other ladies on a 7,000-mile, three-month journey from Geelong to Darwin and back in 1930.

Ron, Steve, Bob and Doug Heard and their sister Anne Cole have squashed themselves in to the 1929 Essex they are driving.

“After doing a bit of research and checking the world book of records it looks to be the longest continuous taxi fare in the world, we are re-enacting Australian history,” Steve said.

Leaving on the exact date, June 20, from the same Geelong address, the siblings will travel the 7003 miles or 11,500 kilometres covered by their grandfather. The Essex, which is almost identical to the one driven by their grandfather, has had its engine completely rebuilt.

“We are going exactly where he went and stopping off where he did,” Steve said. [Link]

Going Out With a Bang

Some of pyrotechnician Meredith Smith's cremains were launched skyward last night.

About a half-teaspoon of his ashes will be in a fireworks shell that will create a white burst in the sky for the finale of the show, set for Thursday night.

"I can't think of a better way," said family friend Kevin Moss.

He also will be memorialized through hundreds of T-shirts referring to the tribute as "the last shot." [Link]
[Thanks, Nancy!]

In the Beginning There Were Missing Pages

Performance artist Berenice Rarig borrowed her husband's 1863 family Bible for a special project.

She opened the Bible to the beginning, where illuminated letters started the first book, Genesis, where God brings order out of chaos.

Her hands grasped the gilt-edged pages.

And pulled.
Rarig knew her fellow artists would appreciate the value of a family heirloom. And they would understand how much it would cost her to deconstruct it.
Rarig tore the book of Genesis into one-inch squares. She wove the squares into scarlet silk fibers, making a 20-foot cloth that floats with words and glows with light. [Link]

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Alcohol Is Good for the Heart

DNA tests on the heart of Frédéric Chopin—preserved since his death in 1849—may prove whether the composer suffered from cystic fibrosis.

Grzegorz Michalski, director of Poland's National Fryderyk Chopin Institute, says the last known time the heart was examined, just after the end of World War II, it appeared to be perfectly preserved in the hermetically sealed crystal urn that was filled with an alcoholic liquid, presumed to be cognac.

"Records show it is in perfect condition, so to tamper with it risks destroying it," Michalski says. Of Chopin's two living descendants, he says, one favours DNA testing, but the other is staunchly opposed. [Link]
You just know that someone somewhere would pay top dollar for that 1849 cognac.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Ben and Betsy Tying the Knot

The Genealogy Insider reports that Benjamin Franklin (you might know him from Poor Richard's Almanack and The Colbert Report) is getting married. To Betsy Ross.

The Name Is Now Nowthen

The residents of Burnsville Township, Minnesota, have changed the name of their newly incorporated city to "Nowthen"—the name mistakenly given to its first post office.

During the 1890s, a community leader created a list of possible names for the post office and wrote, "Nowthen, one of these ought to do."

Historians say the post office came to be known as Nowthen. [Link]
[Thanks, Nancy!]

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

New Blog Finder Feed

Here's another improvement at the Genealogy Blog Finder. You can now subscribe to the What's New feed and be automatically notified of any new blogs added to the directory. If you prefer, you can get notifications by email.

Never Too Old to Incise

If I'm going to pay someone to cut me open, I want him to have at least 70 years of experience.

Fyodor Uglov, who died on Monday aged 103, earned an entry in 1994 in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest practising surgeon, and laid down his scalpel only at the age of 102. [Link, via Daily Dish]

Another Genealogue Link Dump

It's time again to shorten my to-do list.

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