Friday, January 30, 2009

Twittering the Great Depression

David Griner is Twittering his great-aunt's diary.

Late last year, my family found a line-a-day diary maintained by my great-aunt from 1937 to 1941. She was in her early teens, living on a small farm in rural Illinois with her two brothers, one of which was my grandfather.

It's a fascinating account of life in a bygone era, a time when my family's only connections to the world were schoolhouse chatter and a neighbor's radio.

Looking at the terse journal, my sister quipped, "This is the Twitter of the 1930s." We glanced at each other and almost immediately began planning the Twitter account that would become [Link, via mental_floss]

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Time to Clean My Mother's Basement

A guy in Maryland almost threw away a treasure.

Charles Collins was cleaning out his mother's basement when he came across what looked like a rolled-up tube.

"I said knowing my mom and dad, you never know what could be inside this thing, so I decided I was going to check it out," Collins told FOX 5's Tom Fitzgerald.

Charles was holding a piece of family history.

"So I unrolled it and it's my great-great grandfather's civil war discharge," he said.

But it was not just any discharge. On closer inspection, Charles realized it was signed by Abraham Lincoln himself. [Link]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How Groundskeeper Willie Got His Name

This week, The Simpsons did its part in keeping alive the Ellis-Island-name-change myth:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ernie and His Mamma

While working on a new website project, I ran across this photograph accompanying the passport application of Anna Boselli Borgnino. Anna—the daughter of Count Vincenzo Boselli—had brought her son Ermes to Milan in 1920, and while she was away her husband went and got himself naturalized in Connecticut. That meant she had become an American citizen as well, and had to get a passport to travel back to the U.S.

And that round-faced kid on her lap? He grew up to be Academy-Award-winning actor Ernest Borgnine. I wonder if he had a gap between his two front baby teeth.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

No Longer a Neologism

I just noticed that this blog has reached a milestone. When I search for "Genealogue," Google no longer asks me "Did you mean: genealogy?"

Oddly enough, I have never once said the word "Genealogue" aloud. If asked I just call it "my genealogy blog." I'm fairly sure how it's pronounced, though.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Not a Hair Out of Place in 48 Years

Jay Richardson met his father, J. P. "Big Bopper" Richardson, for the first time in 2007—48 years after he died in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.

Born three months after the crash, Jay, who lives in Katy, never met his father in life - but saw him for the first time at his exhumation.
Inside, forensic examiners found the Big Bopper's well-preserved corpse, dressed in a black suit and a blue-and-gray striped tie. He wore socks, but no shoes. Most remarkably, his thick brown hair was still perfectly coiffed in his familiar, 1950s flat-top. [Link]
Jay is planning to sell his dad's old casket on eBay in the next few weeks.

Better Than Being Buried Alive

Sion Barrington gave a presentation recently about Rev. Ebenezer Erskine, who conducted his own wife's funeral back in the 1700s.

The burial process was later disturbed by the unscrupulous sexton. He opened the unfortunate young woman's coffin, stealing her wedding ring by hacking off her finger with a knife - whereupon the "corpse" sat up, having merely been comatose, going on to recover completely.

One of Mrs Erskine's descendants was in Sion's audience, pointing out that the gravedigger had, in fact, severed her apparently-lifeless finger with his spade, the ring remaining a treasured Erskine family heirloom.

Out of politenesss, Sion refrained from asking about the finger. [Link]

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Genealogue Challenge #141

Today is J. D. Salinger's 90th birthday, and I have an urge to invade his privacy.

On what date did his paternal grandmother arrive in America?

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