Genealogy, Freedom and Acceptance – Black Lives Do Matter

It’s Independence Day here in the U.S. and this one will be like none I’ve previously spent.  Got a 3 part text from the Surgeon General of our state notifying us to “Avoid the 3 Cs Closed Spaces, Crowded Places & Close-Contact Settings.”  Kind of catchy!  Later that day, the bureaucrats came out stating the typical spin that this will poof be gone so no worries.  The disconnect would be funny if it wasn’t so sad for the millions who are suffering because of the disease or its side effects, such as unemployment, eviction, food shortage, and so on.  We plan on staying home and hubby has ventured out to the grocery store WITH HIS MASK to get our traditional picnic dinner that we usually have with family in the park right before the fireworks display.  This year, we’re eating it for lunch in our backyard on a quilt our daughter made to commemorate the times.  We’ll use the quilt every year from now on and perhaps next year will be different, perhaps not.  Like the immortal lyrics sung by Janis Joplin, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” My family and I realize how privileged we are and this temporary loss of our freedoms to go where we want with no restrictions is a small price to pay to insure our community stays safe.  Others aren’t so fortunate now or in the past.
The past week I have been heavily into researching my Daniel Hollin[g]shead to prove or disprove he was the only Daniel from Leicestershire, England that went to Barbados and became a real estate mogul in the Eastern New Jersey colonies.  I’m at the point I can say I have strong evidence but I want to make sure I haven’t made an error somewhere so I await a few more documents to examine.  Those records – the Bible he brought with him from England, a manuscript donated by family of a Presbyterian minister in South Carolina to an archive in Wisconsin, and a list of military men who died in the Battle of Blenheim in August 1704 would add further support or not.  The “or not” is key to the previous sentence and it’s what I love most about genealogy.  We think we know, we think we’ve found everything, we think we understand until a new document is discovered that throws us for a loop.  
In the past three weeks I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster ride with my findings.  I’ve had to face the facts and process that my gateway ancestor wasn’t the pious Quaker that I always thought of him.  Family legend stated that he was indentured to Barbados, possibly as a tailor, since he was the oldest son and his father, a tax collector, had died.  There was the issue that some of the money collected didn’t get turned in to the King’s treasury.  
I guess my interpretation of that information says a lot about my personality.  I was fine with the religion – I’m pretty much a nonconformist myself.  His “career” choice was okay, too. I love to sew and once had my own costume business so maybe that was how my skill came about. The missing tax money I attributed to an error or the sudden death of Daniel’s father but it all got resolved at the end so life was good.  
I never realized that I tend to make excuses for my ancestors actions and try to rationalize their behavior turning it into a positive explanation.  Until now.
In early June, I took every document I had on Daniel and his purported father, Francis and reviewed them.  I then asked a member of my local genealogy society who is a Brit and experienced with the time period I was working with to examine them for her suggestions.  She pointed out that the son of  a tax collector at the time would not have been indentured as a tailor so that story, with no documents, was probably untrue.  Britain had a rigid class system I hadn’t considered.  There was a Daniel who was a tailor in London but he was of an older generation than the Leicestershire Daniel.  There was also an indenture record for a different Hollingshead line but it was also for a much later time period than Leicestershire Daniel.  Perhaps, she suggested, that the family story got muddled over the past 300 years.  Heck, if we can’t even have our government officials in the same day have the same story, a 300 year time span certainly would have some errors. She suggested I search for more records and then reanalyze the findings.  Great advice!
Now I’ve looked for documents on this family for years and years and I can’t explain why I happened to find so much in just 3 weeks.  What I discovered is disturbing to me and altered my perspective of Daniel’s life and my own.  I still am working through it.
I discovered some conflicting evidence based on bios in old books.  One source stated he was born in Lancashire; the others all stated Leicestershire.  That was the first of my sick to my stomach feelings – I had put out the wrong info and so many other’s trees blindly accepted it as fact.  If that turned out to be correct, I didn’t even know how I could fix the problem.  I took a break, cleared my head and then began to research Hollin[g]sheads in Lancashire and found two families in two different parishes but he wasn’t there.  I examined the citations for the Lancashire book and hunted down the first source, another old book.  That book provided a different source so I searched for it and surprise, the initial source DID NOT HAVE LANCASHIRE – it didn’t name a location.  I’m still waiting to see what the second source states – that’s possibly the documents in Wisconsin.  I’m seeking a manuscript written before 1800 in Charleston, South Carolina.  Daniel never even visited South Carolina (or Wisconsin) so my theory of looking where they never lived seems to be supported again.  I also wanted to find the Bible to see what was recorded there.  Until I found the old bios from the 1800’s I didn’t know it even existed.  The last record of it was October 1882 in Chicago. I’m grateful to a genealogist from the New England Genealogical and Historical Society who provided a look up for me this week.  That immensely helped me move forward with finding the Bible.
The person who owned the Bible never married and had no children.  She predeceased her two brothers.  A sister, ironically, moved to a few miles from where I currently live with her husband and died there in 1939.  She had no children.  I suspect the Bible was given to a cousin from a different line who had received some other family memorabilia.  He was living in Manhattan at the time the Bible owner was and he had three children.  My theory is it was passed down to one of his children.  So I spent a day trying to locate the living of those lines.  I emailed 4 individuals and received a response from one.  Doesn’t say if she has it or not but that, to her knowledge, the Bible never contained genealogical information.  I laughed, that would be my family!  They never notate on photos, keep records, etc.  I’m not giving up hope that the current owner comes forward to verify that.
I also was trying to think of reasons why Daniel would leave Leicestershire.  Several old books mention he, as did several of his brothers, served in the Battle of Blenheim which was in August 1704.  My Brit friend stated that the brother who had died there as a Captain under the Duke of Marlborough (who Winston Churchill is descended from) would have been in the class of a tax collector so that further supports I have the correct Daniel.  She suggested finding proof of their military experience.  The National Archives of Great Britain doesn’t have it.  I’ve reached out to a few military societies in England hoping someone somewhere has the info.  
I then theorized Daniel went to Barbados because he was in the military and I began to read up on the history of that island.  The history is not pretty!  I knew there sugar plantations; his second wife, Thomasine Hasel’s father was an owner of one.  I knew there were slaves but I didn’t think much about them over the years.  I now know a lot and it is relatable to our current times.  
I was astounded to learn that Lord Cromwell placed many Scotts and Irish men into slavery.  How had I missed that?  I never knew how far back slavery went.  I do remember learning in school that the Romans had slaves but I thought they were prisoners of war.  I didn’t know that Africans were taken as slaves because of their religious convictions.  I never thought about the Spanish and Portuguese using and abusing African slaves before settling the “new world.”  I was astounded to read an archaeological  study that explored a former sugar plantation in Barbados and determined that economic power brokers in London had made the decision to exploit so they could become richer.  The evidence was buried in the soil, untouched for 400 years.  
I’m still coming to terms with the picture posted at the top of this blog.  Daniel died intestate in 1730 in Somerset County, New Jersey.  You can see from the inventory that he owned slaves.  I am sickened at the thought.  
My mantra has always been I identify with the underdog as I am one of them. I have been discriminated against because I was the only child in my parochial school whose parents were divorced at a time when divorce was frowned upon.  I was repeatedly called a carpetbagger because I was a northerner who had relocated to the south.  Some of my husband’s family would not accept me because my grandparents were immigrants.  They made negative comments about my religion.  I had a relationship severed by a friend because she hated my religion, too.  
Those experiences and my interpretation of my ancestry made me wrongly believe I was the great grand daughter of an indentured servant of Caribbean. I thought that made me linked in kinship and someone who understood the hardships of African Americans.  Geez, I even grew up in Gary, Indiana so I certainly understood the black experience, right?  WRONG!  
Growing up, even though I was at the lower rungs of the social economic ladder did not take away my white privilege.  I never asked for it but I inherited it.  As I reflect, I could have and should have done more. Coming out about my family’s involvement in slavery is not easy for me to accept but it is necessary. My blog today is my first step in this journey.
Who were “Tippeo, an old negro-man, Jack, Lelia, Jack, a boy, Bellinda and Dido?” What became of them?  Were they related?  I don’t know but intend to try to find out.  
This Independence Day I am reflecting on the past and trying to make plans for the future. My people had freedom and took away others’ freedom so that they could prosper.  I’m not sure how to make amends but I will work it out going forward.  I hope you will join me if you are at the same point in your life that I am.  Being embarrassed, sorry and ashamed isn’t enough.  Black Lives Matter – always have and always will.  It’s time for change and I will be a positive force in that.

Practicing What I Preach About Organization

Hello, Dear Readers!  Didn’t blog last weekend because I was trying to do what I recommend everyone do – organize your genealogy. It is NOT fun!
Let’s start with the negative to get it out of the way…
It resulted in my allergies going bonkers from the dust (and the Sahara Dust Storm further put me over the edge), bags of refuse for the trash collectors to have to heave away in the intense heat (we’ve had advisories for a week now) and a field day for the cats who were running through the piles knocking them to the floor just to see paper fluttering.  Why do cats do what they do?
On a positive note:

  • I can find everything I need quickly
  • I have a lot more office space
  • I have a much healthier environment
  • I found a few personal genealogical gems
  • I feel great that I am well on my way to completing the task

I would love to tell you I started this major undertaking because it was the right thing to do but that wouldn’t be honest.  Two weekends ago, we had a generator installed since I’ve got a freezer full of food that I typically don’t have at this time of year due to the ‘rona.  In Florida, summer is the lean times, meaning we grill and eat lots of quickly made cool foods right from the fridge.  Open a can of kidney beans for a salad, mix up a can of tuna with some mayo and you have a sandwich, you get the picture.  Since our groceries were in such short supply of canned goods and charcoal from the break in the supply lines, I didn’t stock up as usual and instead, had to rely on frozen items.  I don’t want to lose all that food when the power goes out, which it does in our area frequently, so we decided to buy a generator and have it installed.  
That meant we had sporadic electricity the day it was installed so I didn’t blog.  I had all intentions of doing that the following day but, I was bored so I decided I would just go through one of four tubs I keep in the office where we store our warranty receipts and other important papers.  That project consumed me for the next few days so the blogging didn’t happen.
I may have mentioned in past blogs that my family and I have been fortunate so far escaping covid which is spreading like wildfire in my area (well, we think one of our kids had it in late January and the other in early February but it was mild compared to what could have been and hubby and I didn’t get it, although we were in close proximity to both of them at their sickest. One kid tested with the results of no immunity so we have no idea what they had but it matched all but one of the symptoms.  Hmm.)  
I don’t know what “virus” infected our appliances but in the past three months, the following has needed repair:  refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave (still waiting for parts), toaster, coffee maker, iron, sewing machine, vacuum, pool vacuum, pool heater, laptop power cord, cell phone, blow dryer, flash light, water softener, ceiling fan, chain saw, pole saw, blower, jet ski battery and then, there was the well guys cutting the lines so we had to have the internet and phone cables reinstalled and they broke several sprinkler heads so there was more fixing needed.  Luckily, most of those items were under warranty (which says a lot about how items are made these day). Although that saved us tons of money, it resulted in my constantly pulling out the four tubs to find the necessary paperwork to contact companies to arrange repairs. The organizational system quickly became a mess and I knew I had to devote time to cleaning it.  With the electricity off it seemed like a great time to devote to it.
You may be thinking – why does she keep this stuff in tubs?  Simply because I live in a hurricane state.  After losing everything in Hurricane Elena in 1985 I learned that file cabinets aren’t the way to go here.  Put stuff in tubs and you can easily transport in your car when you flee and have the documentation to prove to FEMA when you return.  Plus, no bugs get in and it does cut down on dust somewhat.
I got the brilliant idea to change the file folders from “Small Appliances”say, to the room in which the item is held.  That meant making new labels; I love my Dymo but that’s starting to act weird, too.  Any item we no longer owned went into the trash and those remaining went into a pile on the desk based on the room they were housed.  That’s where the cats had a field day.
My reorganization left me with space in the tubs so I decided I’d tackle an attic niche where we store tax returns.  I had taken Judy Russell’s APG seminar earlier that week and according to her, I only needed to store the IRS documentation for 7 years.  I’ve had much more saved and although I hated the thought of pulling it all down and going through it, decided I  had to do it.  That’s where I made my personal genealogical discoveries that are meaningless to everyone but my husband and I.  I found his very first tax return from the 1970’s when he worked part time at Pepper Pot Pizza.  I found my Work Permit signed by my guidance counselor and school nurse for my first job while in high school (it was for a summer job as a “basket girl” at a local pool – I became a mole that summer, standing for hours in a dark room that was a partial basement handing patrons baskets to put their belongings in and then retrieving them when they were ready to leave.  It smelled of chlorine and sweat.  Yuck!  But I was making $2.00 a hour so all way good.)  I found paperwork for family members who were deceased that my husband and I served as administrators.  Looking over some of the medical records reminded me of things I once knew about the person but had filed away somewhere in my brain and wouldn’t have been able to retrieve had the documents not jogged my mind.  
Tossing all that stuff out felt great and now everything is together!  You’d think I’d stop there but I was on a roll so I next decided to clean a small tub that I place in person conference syllabuses.  I decided to pitch what wasn’t important to me and scan what was.  I am in the middle of that project now.
I am leaving two shelves of genealogical gems to clean out when I retire someday.  They once were housed in the attic (hence the dust) but when we cleaned the attic out a year ago I moved them to an indoor storage area.  I seriously hate the thought of going through that stuff and figure it will take me a few months to get all that organized – it’s WW2 diaries, notes from older family members, letters, etc.  What does one do with old film, negatives, camcorder stuff?  We’ve digitized all of it to DVDs and some to the Cloud but what should I do with the original?  It’s probably deteriorated and no longer viewable even if I had the device to see it.  I actually was ready to pitch it but hubby said no which is surprising as I’m the one who usually hangs on to stuff.  Let me know if you’ve faced this situation and how you resolved it.  
So, for the remainder of today, as I look out at the milky white sky, I’ll be scanning my dwindling pile of syllabi.  Think I’ll get another cup of coffee first.  Have a great weekend!

The Caribbean Connection…An Update

Last week I blogged about my strange experience looking for my Hollingshead family going from England to Barbados to Pennsylvania/New Jersey.  I was desperately searching for a document to show proof that my ancestor, Daniel, was the individual in all of those locations. 
Some odd happening occurred – a dream, an undelivered email, an internet site popping up after the electricity had been turned off  – put me back on track.  Here’s what happened this week…
Although the member of my local genealogy association that I had reached out to for help in connecting with a presenter’s email was returned as undeliverable, I used the same email address and reached the person I was seeking a few minutes later.  She responded she was unavailable but when get back with me soon.
I’ve signed up for a British seminar online that I found by “looking small” as instructed in my dream. It’s scheduled for Friday and I’m eagerly awaiting it.
Being impatient, I had a hunch that the dream meant more than just the upcoming lecture.  I don’t know why I did the following, but I did and I’m glad of that.  I decided to check Ancestry.com hints for Daniel.  I don’t use the hint option very often.  I do sometimes if I’m starting a new search for a client but for my own tree, not so much.  In case you aren’t aware, your Ancestry hints never really leave you.  If you click “Ignore” that isn’t the same as delete – which isn’t an option.  When you Ignore, it simply goes to the Hint section and is placed under that heading.  The other categories are Undecided and Accepted.  Accepted hints are all those that are showing in your Facts section, Undecided are those you can’t make up your mind about after you’ve reviewed it.  
In my Undecided section, I had about 15 hints and most were completely wrong – wrong locations (like Ohio and I was searching before there was even an Ohio territory), wrong time period (like the 1900’s and I needed 1600-1700’s), or wrong names (like Hollins).  There were 2 interesting hints, however, that I clicked on and both were from a DNA relative I’ve corresponded with in the past.  I trust her work and she always uses citations!  The hints were notes she had taken from old texts she had found in her local library.  Lucky lady, she lives close to an awesome research library.. I wanted to find the original books to check her notes so I did a Google book search (on Google, click the “Other” box and then click “Books” is the easiest to find and lo and behold, this is what I discovered:

Alfred Mathews. History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania.  Philadelphia:  R. T. Peck & Co,1886, p. 1156.

Even though this is exactly what I’m looking for regarding the route of immigration, there is no proof, other than that Stroud J. Hollinshead, a likely descendant, shared the info for his personal biographical sketch.  Sigh!  He even got some of the facts wrong.  The second paragraph is a hot mess; How could Daniel, the first ancestor, be killed at the Battle of Blenheim and then hold public office in Sussex County, New Jersey?  Quite a feat, I say.  The date of birth is off by a few years.  Didn’t mention the first wife, Ann Alexander, from whom I’m descended but does mention their child, Mary, as the daughter of the second wife, Thomasin.  Mary married a Duer; according to this bio, so did Mary’s stepmom after the death of Daniel.  Hmm, but something isn’t quite correct there, either.  Thomasin was a female and the information states she married a Jane Deuer.  I suspect they meant John as this would have been the early 1700’s.  
Then I found the following interesting story:
Rev. John C. Rankin, DD.  The Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge, NJ. Jersey City:  John H. Lyon, 1872., p.7.

I knew Daniel was flipping property but I didn’t know that he had sold to a James Alexander of New York.  That peaked my interest as his first wife was an Alexander and I’ve not been successful in locating her family.  So I read up on James Alexander and Lord Stirling.  The family liked to hide among other Alexander families in Ireland and France where they fled after picking the wrong political side in Scotland.  Scholars haven’t been able to sort through all the stories the family told in the documentation they left behind of who was related to whom as the same individual’s tales changed from time to time.  Then, there’s the whole timely topic of race relationships.  Lord Stirling made his money partially from the slave trade while father James was alive and didn’t object.  My Daniel, however, appeared to have not been in favor of slavery.  He brought a slave family with him to New Jersey but it appears there was manumision.  I told myself (no proof here!) that Daniel was empathetic as he was purportedly an indentured servant, though others felt this showed he was of the Quaker faith.  Yet, as I learned more about James Alexander, I discovered that Daniel’s second wife Thomasin left several slaves to her children when she died so the couple may not have the same shared beliefs or, I’m completely wrong about Daniel. More research definitely needed.
The Presbyterian Church reference provides another important clue.  Some believe that Daniel was Quaker but I’ve found nothing to support that.  He and his children were baptized in the Church of England in England and Barbados,  Some of the Alexander land was later donated to the Presbyterian Church.  That’s not surprising since James was a Scott and probably of that faith.  Further reading informed me there were no Quakers in the the area when Daniel relocated there.  If he had been a devout Quaker, he would have likely settled in Bucks County, Pennsylvania as the Duer’s initially did.  This would explain why I’ve never found a Quaker record for Daniel.
Although all of this is interesting to my research, the last weird occurrence happened while I was reading online.  My husband and I share an office and he decided he was going to clean his workspace.  He is a piler and I’m a filer – he has piles everywhere and I have everything sorted in a variety of devices (handing file folders, in/out baskets, file cabinets, tubs in folders, etc.).  As I was deeply involved in an old text my husband said, “Is this yours?”  He was holding a CD.  I haven’t used CD’s in I don’t know how long so I shook my head no.  “Should I toss it?”  he asked.  “What’s on it?” I replied.  “The theme song of Pirates of the Caribbean.”  I thought he was kidding me.  “Yeah, right.” I said.  “Seriously,” he replied.  He thought I had recorded it to help me with my search.  (Photo above – you can see it’s scratched so it’s not new.) Nope, wasn’t I but somewhere in the great beyond there’s a tech savvy spirit with a sense of humor who is helping me along.  Keep it coming!

Synchronocity and my Roots

It’s been a rainy, windy week in my area with Tropical Storm Cristobal passing off shore.  I spent my free time catching up on two books I’ve always had on my “To Read” list but never got around to checking out – Henry Z. Jones’ Psychic Roots and More Psychic Roots.
If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you know I occasionally write about the unexplainable and downright weird things that happen to me when I am deep into a genealogical research problem.  I get a hunch, am driven to reach out to follow through on that thought and voila, a long lost photo or document or knowledgeable individual miraculously provides me what I am seeking.
Several years ago, one of my blog posts was selected by a major organization to be featured in their newsletter.  One of my dear readers and the editor of the newsletter both suggested I ready the books but I was so involved with other projects, I didn’t have time. I finally made time when I saw that both titles were available through genealogical.com which I subscribed to for 3 months during the pandemic.  
Does reading about coincidences increase them?!  It seemed to work for me this week.  Perhaps it’s like opening a communication link. You have internet access, however, if you don’t go on you’ll never be connected to the wealth of information out there.  That’s my take on how this all works and you’ll see why in a moment.
I really enjoyed reading the events that others experienced, especially when I have met some and others are my followers.  One of my husband’s distant ancestors was also mentioned, Thomas Harbaugh and his wife, Polly.  Thomas’ story always was one of my favorite Harbaugh recollections so I wasn’t surprised that his descendants would have a strange event when they sought information on him.
Just like the author cannot explain his passion for Palatine research, I can’t explain mine for the Harbaughs.  I’m not one, bloodwise.  Some have married into some of my related lines but the connection hasn’t been close.  The Harbaughs’ are my husband’s maternal line.  I was never close to my mother-in-law and his grandfather had passed before I met him.  Why did I take the time to enter every bit of Harbaugh data into our family tree?  Beats me but I was (and am) obsessed.  I would work late into the night entering information and trying to connect all the Harbaughs in the US since the 1947 Cooprider & Cooprider book on Harbaugh History was published.  
I’m a quick reader so I finished both Jones’ books in three days.  Each night, I had a genealogical related dream.  The first night I dreamt that the Gateway Ancestor for the Harbaugh’s was not Yost but Jost and if I looked for records for Jost I would find them.  I told my husband the next morning and he laughed, pointing out in German that was probably correct.  I don’t know German and my husband and I have been a couple since our high school days.  He knows that renown Harbaugh historians have puzzled over the oddness of a Swiss first name of Yost.  Did my husband ever mention that the name wasn’t odd at all in German?  Nope.  Later that day I was reading a different book on genealogical.com and sure enough, it explained German names.  Everyone assumes that the Harbaughs emigrated from Switzerland so no one looks at the surname as being of German origin.  In the German book I looked at later in the day, Harbaugh is recorded as meaning being near a brook (baugh).  I’ve read that before but somehow it never sunk in.  The family lived for a time in Kaiserslautern, in the Palatine region of what is now Germany.  How did I miss the obvious all these years?  How did everyone else researching this family?  I don’t know!  This helpful hint from beyond will be useful going forward.
I’ve been working on finding proof for one of my Gateway ancestors, Daniel Hollingshead for a lineage application I submitted.  He is not listed in any of the typical texts that show emigration so I’m required to document more fully.  He left Saxelby, England for Barbados in the early 1700’s, possibly indentured (according to family tales).  He married in 1710 (have the record), wife, Ann from whom I descended died in 1714 (record)  and he remarried in 1716 (record).  The family relocated to New Jersey via Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) about 1720 (land and tax records).  One of his children from his second marriage even moved back to Barbados with her husband.  The rest of the family remained together in the colonies.  I can prove he left Barbados and lived in what is now the US but I can’t prove how he got to Barbados.  My second night’s dream had me standing in front of a mirror but the reflection was not mine, it was blurred, like a computer screen without my glasses.  A male voice told me to look in the mirror and to look “smaller.”  What the heck did that mean?!  I shared that dream with hubby, too.  He laughed and said he thought it meant the information was in front of me but I wasn’t seeing it all.  Hmm.  We’ll come back to how this played out.
After finishing the second book, the third night I dreamt my deceased maternal aunt was taking me to her new home.  We entered the back door into a kitchen and I saw my grandmother and mother.  Everyone was glad to see me and I was taken to the kitchen counter where a box was being unpacked.  It contained the most beautiful clear glass plates I’ve ever seen.  My aunt asked me to help unwrap them and put them into the cabinet.  I thought we should wash them first but she said they were fine.  The bowls were exquisite and I remarked I wished I could find a set like this (on my side of the universe).  I then said they wouldn’t work for me because I don’t have a wooden table but a glass one where they wouldn’t show up well on it.  When I awoke I instantly knew one of my family members will be dying soon and the “move to a bigger house” was to prepare for their “homecoming.”  I don’t know who that will be but I have a hunch between 3 individuals.  None are ill.  I’m keeping my mouth shut to see how this turns out.  In the meantime, my second dream’s meaning surfaced…
Thursday afternoon I got an idea out of the blue to contact a local woman who does British research.  I searched for her email address, which I know I have as I distinctly remember writing it down a few years ago after she gave a lecture.  I couldn’t find it but I did clean up my office!  I decided that evening to email the former president of my local society who I thought would surely have her email.  I hate asking someone to give me a phone or email address without the individual’s permission so I requested he forward the email I would have sent to her.  Three hours later he responded that he had tried but the email bounced back as undeliverable.  He had used it recently and was surprised.  He gave me her phone number and suggested I call.  It was late in the evening and I told him I would follow up the next day and let him know if we connected.  I then sent the email, which didn’t come back as undelivered.  I decided to give her a day or two to respond before I called (since the weather is inclement and knowing our power would be up and down for the next few days).  Knowing that my power would be out is also weird, as you’ll see in a minute.
While writing the email to her I had rechecked several sources I had used to try to find emigration, census and indentured records online.  Typically, I close out any work I’m doing on the computer when I stop for the day to insure I don’t lose anything.  I thought I had done that but perhaps I hadn’t.  
On Friday morning our doorbell rang and an employee of our power company informed us that we were scheduled to get a new meter installed so he was requesting we turn off all appliances, televisions, computers and the air conditioner while he installs the new device.  I distinctly remember walking into our office and turning off my and my husband’s computers, then turning off the A/C.  
The new meter was installed quickly but I was reading on my Kindle so I had no reason to immediately turn the office computers back on.  Later that afternoon I decided to restart mine but I walked away before it was fully up.  
I can’t recall what the reason was that made me go back to my desktop Friday evening because what happened next totally threw me.  I sat down at my desk and saw that the Google was already up on my right screen.  I thought my husband must have used my system for some quick need since his computer hadn’t been restarted.  I clicked and what was displayed was a page from the National Archives of England (shown at the top of this blog).  I remember thinking that was odd since there is no reason my husband would ever have gone to that site.  Something caught my eye on the bottom right corner so I scrolled down and what did I discover?  A link to Caribbean Connections!  I clicked and discovered that an online lecture will be held on June 19th at 2 PM London time.  I immediately signed up for the class.  

You can see for yourself from the top picture above what I saw when I clicked on my Google browser.  I had to scroll down to see the map on the right (shown directly above).  If not, I would have missed it.  
Even odder, how did that website show on my computer when it had been shut down for the installation of a new meter?  I got the eebie jeebie feeling for sure!  I told my husband that the strangest thing had just happened and asked if he had used my computer.  No, he replied.  I then told him his explanation of my dream was correct.  The information was in front of me but I wasn’t seeing it because I was only seeing a small part of it.  
I can’t wait to attend the lecture and I’m hopeful I will be finding the information I am seeking soon.  I love these strange experiences and hope they keep coming.  I hope you find all that you are seeking, too.

Memorial Day Ceremony in the Netherlands – an Update

I’ve blogged many times before about the Field of Honor project in the Netherlands who memorializes service personnel that were killed in the line of duty during World War 2.  They had originally planned a 75 year memorial event for early May that had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.  

On Memorial Day, they held a small event for 30 people that was attended by the King and had a flyover.  They reached their goal of obtaining 7500 photos of the interred; thank you to all that helped with the research!

You can learn more about the organization and the ceremony here and here.

They have set a new goal of 8000 photos for the larger event that was postponed until next spring (hopefully).  Please continue to send photos by checking their website.  

Learning Continues During the Pandemic

Wednesday I attended the virtual National Genealogical Society Conference and it was as informative as always!  It was a long day, however, beginning at 11 AM Eastern time and ending at 7 PM.  A few 15 minute breaks were included throughout.

The best part is that each speaker’s topic was so different yet all packed full with useful information. Some of the knowledge was new – I loved Elizabeth Shown Mill’s “crowd sourcing” analysis which is slightly different from her FAN Club.  Both Mills and Tom Jones reminded us of the importance of analysis.  I absolutely loved how Jones used online unsourced tree data as a stepping stone to find the facts.  Judy Russell’s talk was poignant and reminded me of how fortunate my immigrant grandmother was in not having to be a child worker.  I had no idea that a child of one month old could become indentured!  Blaine Bettinger was awesome as always with his DNA explanations.  I absolutely loved that he used closed captioning for those who might need it.  Some folks were critical of it because it overlapped the bottom of the shown slides but IMHO, the presentation was readable anyway.  That was such a thoughtful gesture to end the day I was deeply touched by his attempt at inclusion.

There were also wonderful presentations by FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com and FamilyTreeDNA.  Lots of changes coming – some good, some not so good if you loved a feature that will be disappearing (Ancestry is dumping the shoebox in the trash and the folders you may have set up in messaging while FamilyTreeDNA has eliminated offering one of its test kits).  Change is what it is – we’ll adapt and move on.  Some of the moaning and groaning in the chat box made me laugh – get a grip, folks, it’s not the end of your genealogy practice.

The “lunch” speaker was an actor who took the character of a unknown (to many) suffragette from Utah.  It was a moving presentation and a great remind of the short time period all women have been allowed the right to vote in this country.  

Kudos to the the NGS staff who was able to put on this virtual conference on such short notice.  Most of the remainder of the what was to have been an on site conference in Salt Lake City will be available for view beginning July 1.  I’m not sure if you can still purchase viewing or not as I bought a package in early May when it had just become available.  So glad, I did!  Although it’s definitely not the same feel as person-to-person, it was a wonderful and well done alternative during these difficult times.  I highly recommend checking the availability out at the site – NGS – the syllabus provided is worth the price.

Genealogy Food for Thought

Food items in short supply for the last few months seem to be returning to my local grocery store.  For a time, there was no flour, eggs and milk which definitely impacted home made bread and dessert making.  I don’t bake much anymore but I definitely pulled out my old family recipe book to cook up some comfort food while we were home.  

In 2001, as my oldest was about to leave home for college, I compiled a book of our favorite family recipes.  It’s definitely time for a re-do as I’ve acquired many additional ones to add to the old time favorites.  The binding on the old book is also giving out and some of the pages are stained. 

Since I’ve read every book and magazine in my house and on my Kindle, reorganized every closet and drawer, I’m ready to tackle the recipe book as my upcoming summer genealogical project.

You see, I add historical info as background to the cooking instructions.  For example, I tell the story of how Corn Meal Mush came into my grandmother’s go-to recipes when money was tight.  She got the recipe as a young bride from a southern neighbor.  All you need is corn meal and butter – simple and delicious.  

I will definitely be adding a section entitled “Pandemic” and it will contain the improvised methods I had to use when I ran out of staples and couldn’t get to the grocery store.  I don’t want to forget the past weeks – I want to document survival for a future family member.  Whether we’ve turned a corner on covid-19 or not, I can’t say.  What I can say is hope will get us through and I’m really hoping I’ll have this revised recipe collection done so I can give it out as Christmas presents!

Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts for the Genealogist

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend!  Tomorrow is the big day and if you are short of time or your favorite store is short on everything then here’s two ideas that might help:

1.  Genealogical.com has a 3 month special offering all of their 750 books for purchase to be viewed online.  It’s a nice idea while libraries were closed and it allows you to see if it is a book you’d like to purchase in the future. I know many in person sites will be opening soon but if you’re like me – have read everything you have at home AND are not wild about the idea of going out yet, this might be the ideal gift.

I’ve been using it for the past 2 weeks and I have found some interesting info as I’ve been researching Barbados which is not a well represented topic in my local libraries.  Have I found anything earth shattering? Not yet but I’ve obtained some clues to go forward with. 

There are some glitches with the site so I want to share that info to avoid frustration.  First, the log in is quirky.  I’ve tried Chrome, Firefox and good ole Internet Explorer thinking that might be the issue but it isn’t.  It never can recognize my password unless I sign in through my Google account.  I’m telling you this because I’ve been locked out and when you’re paying for something for a limited time that’s frustrating.

I know I’m not alone as someone else had commented that once you’re in, you often get sent to a page to purchase books.  Here’s how to get around that – Click Home and Click on Book Bonanza at the top.  You’ll be in the right area to read at that point.

Next issue is it always takes you back to page 1 of the books listed.  What would have been nice would have been a long page listing all the book titles/authors (I don’t care what the cover looks like!) with a link directly to the book.  After a few days of use I decided I would approach this as I do when I’m just surfing a shelf in a brick and mortar library – I looked at all the offerings on the site page by page and wrote down the titles of interest.  Now, when I’m back on page 1 (you get logged off if you step away for a bit so when you log back on you automatically return to page 1) I just type the title I’m interested in the search button.

Here’s another hint – the list of books I created I checked WorldCat and Ancestry and 18 were there so I will be using those sites for those books.  That way, I don’t have to feel pressure to get through all the other ones that I can’t access anywhere else.

You can’t download the books – just read them – so remember where you left off.  It’s not like Kindle so you have to make a number of clicks to go back where you were.  The other issue is that the page numbers don’t appear so using the Index is difficult.  For example, in Barbados Records in Marriages 1643-1800 Vol. 1, I checked out the index for my Alexanders and derivations of Hollingshead and I find a few I didn’t know existed.  There’s no page number or book section listed so the only way to find them is to scan every page in the book (which is a list of marriage records, duh, so it’s all names) arranged in chronological order by parish to find them.  That is time intensive and yes, I have 3 months, but there are other books I also want to check out.  I used a back door to get more info on the possible relatives listed – looked them up on genealogy sites online to get a better understanding of relationships, years they were in that country (my peeps were gone by 1720 so if the others were there in 1800 I don’t need to check further), and where they originated from in England. 

Going back from a page to another part of the book is also a pain.  You can use the back arrow but if, for example, you’re looking at H’s in the index, you’ve clicked numerous times to get through the A’s-G’s so it’s a lengthy process to return.  It also loads pages slowly, maybe that’s just on my end, but it makes me crazy so now I just click the top arrow to go back to good ole page 1 of all the offerings, retype in the name of the book and then use the index to go where I want. 

So now you’re thinking – why in the world, Lori, would you recommend this as a Mother’s Day gift?!  Well, there’s not a lot out there to purchase and your dear mom isn’t gonna get the ‘rona using this.  Just show her this blog and she can hit the ground running.  I’m not making any money off this – just trying to be helpful.

2.  Next option is to sign up for a National Genealogical Society conference package.  This is what my family got me for my birthday and I’m really excited.  I’ve attended past in-person conferences and loved them!  I was unable to go out to Salt Lake this year due to my other job’s schedule so this gift is really making me happy.  On May 20th, the “live” online offerings are available from 11 AM to 7 PM.  In July, based on the package purchased, you can view up to 85 other lectures that would have been available if the conference was held in person and those are available through May 2021!  That’s more genealogical courses then you could have ever attended in person so I think this is an awesome opportunity.  Sure – you don’t get the camaraderie of being around other genealogists, the immediate answer to your question or the excitement of travel but in these times, I’m good with what is being offered. 

2020 Census – Oh, Dear!

Oops! I was doing website maintenance this AM and discovered the following never got published!

I have no idea how that happened as it was originally supposed to be posted in March. I guess with all the stuff going down at that time I failed to hit the “publish” button. So sorry – here it is…

It’s Census Time and here’s my take on the 2020 U.S. Census. 

I’m not impressed.  I got the mailer the second week in March when we were all busy trying to make plans for the unknown.  I put it in my to do pile for Spring Break.  One of my adult children, who lives 4 minutes from me in the same town never got the form.  My other adult child, who recently moved back to our home and has mail forwarded from the last address, never got it either.  Hmm, not good if you’re trying to locate everyone.  Definitely not good when everyone is housebound but the census takers aren’t out and about because it doesn’t officially open until April 1, 2020.

Next problem was I tried to complete the form online.  I was halfway done when the doorbell rang and the roofer came to try to find why my kitchen window was leaking (because the window installer insists the window isn’t the problem).  When I came back it had timed out and I had to start all over.  Seriously, they couldn’t have put a Save button on that.  (Happily, it wasn’t my roof – found a pin hole in the soffit and all it took was caulk!)

The first question I had confusion over was number 5 – …”If there is someone living here who pays the rent or owns this residence, start with listing him or her as Person 1”  Well, duh, it’s jointly owned and technically, it’s a trust so our adult kids also own it but should I add them as one doesn’t live with us?  I don’t know.  I opted to just include my husband and me.  I figure a future genealogist will see the property tax record and figure it out.  Maybe I’m just overthinking this because I am a genealogist.  It does bring out an important point about how our ancestors interpreted questions in the past.  We have no idea how they were thinking.

Then I got stuck on “What is the person’s race?”  So, I have to add my “origin.”  I am a proud Mutt and if I hadn’t filled it out online the space provided would not have worked for me.  I am Croatian, French-German, Irish, English, Scottish and Scandinavian.  Technically, my origin is Africa but I have no idea how far they wanted me to go back.  Should I have put Neandertal, too?  It is in my DNA.  And then, to complete my adult kid who’s living with us temporarily – had to add my Mutt hubby.  Yeah, this is really dumb.  All I kept thinking about was the Ancestry.com commercial with the guy in the lederhosen trading it in for a kilt.  A family member and co-workers thought it was a dumb question, too, so they put down Mixed American.  I kind of like that.  Future genealogists will be so confused with this response. 

Although this doesn’t apply to me, under “American Indian” (Seriously, you’d think they would have put Native American as they did with Alaskan Native.) Mayan and Aztec are a choice.  What about Incan?  Clearly not every choice is provided but why did they select the ones they listed?  Inquiring minds want to know. 

I completed it in the morning and in the afternoon, received a second mailing that said I hadn’t completed the first one.  What a waste of money!  It’s wasn’t due until April 1st anyway so why send a second mailer to me when my adult kids never got the first one?!  Typical waste of money.

US Census – An Interactive Timeline

Found a wonderful site this week that I think you’ll enjoy.  Check out The Evolution of the American Census.  This interactive site allows you to compare census questions over the years.  The presentation is simply awesome!  You’ll be able to view information your ancestors were asked to provide along with what the US’s interests were over time. Quite interesting to see the direction the nation took over time.

I just wish this was available in a poster for a ready reference sheet.

My only other wish was that we could all view the 1950 US Federal census now while we were still home.  Alas, that’s two years off in the future.