With Heavy Heart, Comparing Ancestor Patriots to Those Who Stormed the Capitol

My blog plans have changed due to the events of this past week.  Originally, I was going  to share a find I discovered by accident on Christmas evening but that will wait. 

When I began Genealogy At Heart, my goal was to post blogs to further the genealogical education of everyone interested in family history.  One of the ways I would accomplish that objective was through sharing heartwarming genealogical finds. 

My heart hurt this week by the lack of respect and the irresponsibility that was shown by the mob that attacked the Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6. Their denial of the truth and their selfish actions are abhorrent.   Although I have only once previously written about my personal political beliefs I cannot remain silent on what occurred on Wednesday. 

I suspect, based on your belief system, you may stop reading this – here’s why you shouldn’t do that and try to keep an open mind.  We can’t pick and choose our ancestors.  You need to be open to all the records of their lives so it would be in your best interest now to practice that today and continue reading. 

A genealogist needs to be respectful, responsible, honest and hard working.  I believe those 4 traits are beneficial to all people in every career field.  Today, I’m providing some genealogical education since it appears, based on the latest poll, that 45% of U.S.Republicans believe that the mob’s behavior was acceptable.  Please know I am not bashing Republicans as my own family had been members since the days of Abraham Lincoln. My intent today is to reflect on the events of January 6, 2021 and compare it to my family research. Wednesday was a historic day for our nation and my family was a part of much of the United States’ history.

As an educator, I often give non-examples to students and I intend to use that method below. 

What is a “patriot”?  Google’s dictionary states its “1. A person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.” 

Those who believe that storming the Capitol is acceptable behavior are calling themselves patriots. Donald Trump and his daughter also used the term, though she deleted it.  I vehemently disagree with them.

I vigorously support my country and I am willing to defend it against enemies/detractors.  The key word is “enemies” which the Google dictionary defines as “a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.”  I am not hostile (unfriendly/antagonistic); those who took part in the assault on the Capitol were and they were violating the sanctity of our country’s rules of law.  The legislators tasked with certifying the election results were not the enemy; they were following the law.  They were voted in by their constituents to do that job.  Those who tried to prevent them from their jobs are the enemies and are not patriots.

An enemy is not someone who merely disagrees with you.  An enemy uses violence because they want it their way and  believe their view is the only one that matters.  Patriots DO NOT act in that manner. 

Here are some examples of Non Patriots and Patriots:

Non Patriot

Photo texted to author by colleague.
Wearing the shirt “Camp Auschwitz” exemplifies being a NON PATRIOT.  There are no words I can use in a family blog to describe someone who mocks the 1.1 MILLION who died at Auschwitz.

Patriot

PATRIOT George Willard Harbaugh (1924-2004) served in World War 2.  He was captured and held by the Nazi regime in Camp Stalag Luft 4 Gross-Tychow & after the notorious Black March, was confined at Camp Wobbelin Bei Ludwigsloft. He earned a Purple Heart.  I knew this Patriot; he would be appalled by what happened on Wednesday.  He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He is my husband’s uncle.

Non Patriot

Photo on site by Simon Davis-Cohen, no photographer noted. Antagonizing those who are serving to protect and defend the citizens of this country who follow the rules of law are NON PATRIOTS.  Granted, this country needs to clean up the folks in blue as not all of them are fit to serve. It is still inexcusable to resort to violence.

Patriot

Patriot George Bryant Harbaugh (1893-1954) served in World War 1.  He was injured at Chateau-Thierry, France on 14 July 1918 & in the Argonne Forest on 1 Oct 1918 supporting France from the “enemy.” He earned a Purple Heart.  He and wife Elsie (1896-1968) to his right, were the parents of PATRIOT George Willard Harbaugh & they are my husband’s maternal grandparents.

Non Patriot

Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP. Carrying a flag does not make you a Patriot; standing for the ideals of the country does. This clown, Jake Angeli, (clearly man is not the right word; my middle school males are more manly then this person) needs someone with sense to tell him it is not Halloween, he isn’t a shaman, Q Anon is FAKE NEWS,  nor is it appropriate to mock the hallowed halls of Congress.  Screaming is also inappropriate.  Guess he never learned how to choose a positive peer group either based on those surrounding him who are allowing his poor conduct.  All pictured are NON PATRIOTS.  (I just keep thinking – where were the women in these men’s lives? How could you raise a son to act this way? Why would you date/marry someone with these character traits? Come on, ladies, step it up to become Patriots!)

Patriots

PATRIOTS are not found just in the Military.  On 4 Jul 1923 these Patriots were celebrating our country’s independence.  They were immigrants who were mocked for where they happened to be born & the religion they chose to follow, worked their entire lives in dangerous low level jobs, endured a KKK cross burning yet they so strongly believed in the ideals of this nation they became citizens. Left to right, boarder living with my grandparents, my maternal grandmother Mary Koss (1900-1985) & my great uncle Joseph Koss Jr. (1902-1993).

Non Patriot

Getty Images/Photographer unspecified. I have no idea what the above person’s education level is, however, he made a poor choice in breaking into the Capitol. Did he never pass Civics?! That “duh” look on his face shows he has perfected playing stupid over the years to get out of trouble.  Education or lack of it does not make one a Patriot.  Storming the Capitol to interrupt the important business of certifying a national election to attest the leader of the free world is most definitely something a NON PATRIOT would do. 

Patriot
Patriot

My maternal grandfather, Ivan “John” Koss (1892-1970), left, did not have the opportunity to attend even 1 day of school.  He often endured the slur, DP, at his job with U.S. Steel in Gary, Lake, Indiana.  He wanted to become a U.S. citizen so badly but feared he would not pass the test due to his illiteracy.  The girl pictured below him is his daughter Mary Lou (1931-1999).  She tutored him and he successfully passed to become a citizen in 1942.  She is shown on the bike she was given for her help in allowing him to reach his dream.  She went on to volunteer with her chosen political party as an adult for years to ensure that everyone eligible could exercise their voting rights. Even though he had a wooden leg, John hobbled in the cold Indiana weather to vote in every election.  They were true PATRIOTS even though they belonged to different political parties.

Non Patriot

Photo by Mike Theiler, Reuters

Parading into the Capitol with the symbol of racism from THE LOSING SIDE in the Civil War is demonstrating NON PATRIOTISM, along with prejudice, white supremacy, a disregard for the feelings of others AND the stupidity of not realizing that the south lost the Civil War over 155 years ago.  Get over it and stop believing the lie that the war was about state rights.

Truly this is a creepy photo not just due to the fact that it’s the first time the Confederate flag was brought into the Capitol.  You can read more about the men in the portraits and their views on the nation’s divisions in the mid 1800’s.

Patriot

My 1st cousin, 3 times removed, Jacob Wilson Parrott (1843-1908) was left orphaned at age 10. He later became a private in the Union Army, Company K, 33rd Ohio Infantry in 1861.  He volunteered in 1862 to infiltrate Confederate lines and hijacked the locomotive, The General, from Atlanta, Georgia.  He was successful in destroying the train, however he was captured and severely beaten 110 times in an attempt to make him talk.  He refused to be broken and later  escaped.  Captured again, he was exchanged in a soldier swap.  He was taken to Washington, D.C. where he met President Abraham Lincoln and was the first recipient of the Medal of Honor. This PATRIOT, like John McCain and George Willard Harbaugh who were captured, was not a “loser” as the current individual residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would call him.  A loser and Non Patriot is someone who incites others to “be worst!” and then watches the events unfold from safety. In other words, they are cowards.

Non Patriot

Photo by Saul Loep/AFP/Getty Images. If you are  proud while breaking the law you are a NON PATRIOT. Taking what doesn’t belong to you makes you a thief, aka criminal. This individual did not come to unite the country but to take home a souvenir. Shallow and selfish!

Patriot

This is the grave marker for my immigrant 2nd great grandfather, Henry Kuhn and his wife, Maria Duer.  Henry, born in Bedesbach, Pfalz, Bavaria arrived at 16 in the U.S. At age 30, in 1862, he joined the Union Army & served as a private in the 45th Regiment, Ohio Infantry, Company 1 in the Civil War.  He didn’t have to, he wanted to. He is a PATRIOT and I am proud to be a Daughter of the Union Veterans because of his belief that our country be “UNITED.”

Non Patriot

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Image. Richard “Bigo” Barnett of Gravette, Arkansas – you are a NON PATRIOT.  Poor baby, was it too long you had to stand that made you have to sit at someone’s desk and put your feet up? You are not even close to being George Patton Reincarnated as your Facebook page is titled.  Taking mail that doesn’t belong to you makes you a thief.  Leaving a quarter doesn’t make it right. Your actions show your lack of character. You would think by age 60 wisdom would have been involved but clearly Small Minded Bigo has none .

Patriot

Like Henry Kuhn, PATRIOT Samuel “August” Samuelson (1839-1908) was an immigrant from Stora Haddebo, Vastra Harg, Ostergotland, Sweden who arrived in the U.S. at age 12 with his family.  Settling in Indiana, he chose to join the 73rd Indiana Infantry Regiment as a private in the Civil War.  He was seriously wounded and left for dead at Stone River, Tennessee but he survived.  Although he suffered the remainder of his life from his injuries, this PATRIOT refused to give up and went on to become a prosperous farmer.  He is my husband’s paternal 2nd great grandfather. You would never have seen this man breaking into someone’s office, rifling through their belongings and putting his disabled leg up on their furniture.

Result of the actions of a Non Patriot

CNN article by Harmeet Kaur, no photographer noted. Vandalizing property is only done by NON PATRIOTS. Destroying historical property is only done by thugs and idiots. No “good” person would act in this manner.

Patriot

My husband’s 2nd great maternal grandfather, John A. Long, (he was the grandfather of Patriot John Bryant Harbaugh) so hated slavery that he was run out of Morristown, Jefferson, Tennessee at age 16 because of his views.  Relocating to Indiana, he decided to enlist, at age 49, as a teamster with Union Army Company I, Indiana 9th Infantry Regiment.  His experiences took him all the way to Texas.  He mustered out on 28 September 1865.  John Long demonstrates you can be a PATRIOT at any age.

Non Patriot Action

Photo by Melina Mara/Washington Post. Leaving a mess behind for someone else to clean up is what a NON PATRIOT does. Did no one ever teach this group to leave your area better than how you found it?

Patriot

Leonard Harbaugh (1749-1822), my husband’s 5th great grand uncle, was a carpenter who helped build the original White House, the contractor for the War and Treasury Buildings and the Foreman of Carpenters for the Capitol after it needed to be restored due to the previous siege by the British in August 1814.  He and his wife are buried in the Capitol Cemetery in Washington, D.C.  I can only imagine how that PATRIOT would have viewed those who vandalized his hard work. Bet he always left a clean job site!

Non Patriot

Jenny Cudd – seriously, grow up.  You are a NON PATRIOT and act like a spoiled child. As a white woman you sicken me! Maybe you need to think about your actions as it probably explains why you weren’t elected mayor in Midland, TX in 2019.  Kudos to your community to seeing what you represent.

Patriot

Above is the grave marker from Covententer’s Cemetery, Jackson, Mahoning, Ohio, of my 5th great grandfather, John Duer (1748-1831) who served as a private in the Sussex County, New Jersey Militia for the Continental Army.  He had a son who served in the War of 1812 and a grand son who served in the Mexican American War.  Clearly, this PATRIOT led by example and instilled in his descendants the importance of protecting our democracy.

Actions of a Non Patriot

Photo by Katherine Frey/Washington Post. Only a NON PATRIOT would think it was acceptable to deface something that does not belong to them.  For all those real Patriots who were injured doing what was right, the NON PATRIOT’s action makes a mockery of what real Patriots endured. This statue purportedly was vandalized with blood. Only a mentally ill person or someone who has no understanding of the dangers of body fluid transmission would do something like this. Guess that explains why the vast majority of the mob didn’t wear a mask or social distance.

Patriot

My husband’s maternal 4th great grandfather, Christian Thomas Harbaugh, a member of the Moravian Church that opposed violence knew it was the right thing to do to stand up to the invading British Army.  Christian was commissioned in Christian Smith’s Company as an Ensign on 29 March 1779 in Frederick County, Maryland.  Putting your country first demonstrates being a true PATRIOT.

Non Patriot

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images. NON PATRIOTS believe stealing is acceptable. You might not expect that from a father of 5 with a physician wife but Adam Johnson from Parrish, Florida thought his white male privilege made him cute and justified his actions.  It does not – he needs to be in jail. He’s a danger to raising those children. I wouldn’t want his wife to provide me medical assistance even if I was near death. He is maskless and not social distancing. When he gets home he can easily spread covid to his family. She needs to lose her job.

Patriot Sadly, there is no picture for Wilson Williams (1754-1831),  my husband’s 4th great paternal grandfather who served in Hempstead Harbor, Long Island, New York’s Militia Company in 1775.  In keeping with his religious belief, his grave was simply marked with a stone that has disappeared over time.  He is buried next to his wife in the Dutch Reformed Church Cemetery, Long Island, New York. Family lore states the Hessians invaded his home but were driven out as the soldiers thought the fireplace was possessed by the devil.  It actually was chestnuts, stored on a niche in the fireplace, exploding from the fire.  Wilson and his sons were able to use the Hessian’s arms to keep them from returning.  What a PATRIOT!

In my family tree, I have more than the 12 Patriots I have highlighted above but these were the individuals that came to mind as I watched in horror on Wednesday at the events unfolded at the Capital.

My Patriots were NOT perfect people, just like every other human.  They did, however, strive to do what was right for their country.  I honor their courage and spirit.  As you reflect on the events of the past week, please think of your Patriot ancestors and pledge that you will follow in their footsteps.  We have a lot of work to do in this country and now is the time to get involved.

Your Family and the Neighbors

Somehow – this did not get transferred from Blogger to my website on 27 Sep 2020 so here it is:

This is the second weekend that has been absolutely beautiful in my part of the world and I spent it putting in my fall garden. Yesterday, our new neighbors, who actually aren’t new, inquired as to what we were growing.  They plan on putting a raised bed garden in next weekend along our shared fence line.

So, how is a “new” neighbor not new?  Well, they lived one house north of their present location for two years and moved one house south in May when the former owner decided to move into a condo after his wife died the previous year.  The condo he moved into is next door to his deceased wife’s first husband.  They all remained good friends.  

The house that the “new” neighbors moved from was purchased by someone they knew from the New England state they formally lived in.  This new to me neighbor is their old friend.

Same thing happened to the house on the corner of our block – the person who built it decided to buy some property on a lake a few miles north where he could retire.  He sold it to a Midwest family.  They lived their for two years and decided to move to a home not far away with more amenities.  They sold the “old” house to a relative.

One of my adults kids bought a home two years ago that’s only 4 minutes from me (if I miss the light).  The insurance agent we recommended is the brother of someone who I used to eat lunch in high school with and who was a good friend of my husbands.  That high school is 1500 miles from where we all currently reside.

My own family flipped houses, too.  I have a nice brick bbq grill my husband and son built based on a memory of one of the house flips.  My grandparents decided their first home had become too large so they had a smaller house built a few miles away from the original home in Indiana in the early 1960’s.  One of the “extras” they selected was a brick bbq in the backyard.  Looking back on it now I find the choice amusing because they had no experience with outside grilling.  They used the grill only once, a Memorial Day weekend, when I was 5.  I distinctly remember it because the house their original home they sold to my uncle and his family the year before.  Being small, I have no memory of the family’s real estate transaction.  I do have some memories of visiting their prior home for holidays and regular visits.  I distinctly remember playing hide and seek with my cousins in the new house as I climbed into a window seat and fell asleep.  That caused the adults to hysterically run around looking for me.  The window seat became off limits to us after that. But back to the bbq grill…

The reason I remember the grill is because on that particular Memorial Day weekend my grandparents were giving a going away party to my uncle, recently divorced, who was going to move to Florida.  They had bought their old home back from him and this was the last family get together in their “new” home.  He was the only one in the family that knew how to light charcoal.  The problem was there was a downpour shortly after he lit the briquettes and they were quickly extinguished.  We ran into the house and since we were a large family in a small home, the women went to the kitchen to prepare the food on the stove and the rest of us were sent to the basement, which was pretty much empty.  The adults brought down some folding chairs and the kids sat on the bare concrete to eat our hot dogs.  

I share this story because 60 years ago my family, much like my neighbors, played musical households – selling to a family or friend and in our case, returning to the original home.  

Sure, family, friends and neighbors traveled in wagon trains, passenger ships and on barges to emigrate to a new community.  I hadn’t really thought much about that being a common custom continuing today until my back yard chat with those “new” “old” neighbors yesterday.  

In this ever changing world that requires almost daily adaptions, it’s nice to think that we still seek the comfort of our loved ones to rely on in our neighbors for support.

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.

Lineage Society Disappointments

The New Year (and decade) is well underway and I’ve been putting off my Genealogy Goals for the year.  Why?  I’m one of those people that just won’t let something go if I’ve committed to it.  My last year goal was to honor my ancestors through various lineage societies.  My thought process was the more places you leave your work, the more likely it won’t be lost.  Sadly, that goal really didn’t work out for me in a few cases.

I am a member of several societies and they are all legit.  That means, they have goals I agree with, they didn’t take my money and run (those are out there) and they actively pursue initiatives to improve genealogy through historical education. 

Unfortunately, two I selected last year didn’t measure up.  Both cashed the check, told me I was a member and then emailed me that they weren’t done verifying what I submitted and would keep me informed.  But they didn’t.  I followed up every few months.  Next month will be a year in so I’m thinking of  ways to resolve this. Sad that a few bad apples tarnish the reputation of those that are good.  

How do you know if a lineage society is reputable?  Check out the membership locally.  The two I attempted to join did not have that option; one was brand new and the other appears to have had changes of personnel at the national level.  If you aren’t able to meet local members then you know you may be taking a risk.  If you’re willing to invest the time to complete the paperwork and the money to join then go ahead.  If not, then definitely don’t bother.  

This is NOT Genealogies Dark Side

The blog I write today was not the one I planned and I want to make clear this is my OPINION.  

I blog about genealogy because it is my passion and I have found that it pairs wonderfully with my first interest, psychology.  I often start the day reading the news and today was no different.  Having just about finished my second cup of coffee, I was flipping through the stories on The Washington Post when I came across an article published yesterday, “The Dark Side of our Genealogy Craze” by Honor Sachs, an assistant history professor at the University of Colorado – Boulder. 

I beg to differ with the author’s main premise.  In paragraph 1, “…But the rise of genealogy may also, paradoxically, exacerbate the virulently anti-immigration fervor propelling President Trump’s policies and increase racial inequality…”  As the thesis statement, the article continues to present the author’s justification of  her views that researching one’s family history is dangerous for the future and the interest in learning this information is short-lived, per her word choice in the title. I strongly disagree.

To prove her point, the author cites the beginning of the growing interest in finding one’s lineage to Alex Haley’s Roots.  The book and television series without a doubt, gave rise to genealogy in the late 20th century.  Yes, the story was about an African American whose ancestors were enslaved and those of European ancestry did use the methods Haley outlined to begin their own research.  I am one of them with two of my European lines entering through Ellis Island.  I am also a Boomer. 

How the author connected Roots, Boomers and Ellis Island to this statement, “The exploration of this heritage provided a language through which the baby boomer generation could safely distance themselves from the mandates of the Civil Rights era without sounding explicitly racist.” is unclear.  

As a historian, I would think the author would know that the Boomers were deeply affected by the Civil Rights era since we were born in the 1950-60’s and were the product of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.  Boomers are of all races with many of us attending integrated schools as a result of the Supreme Court decision.  While some of us are racist, most of us are not.  Racism is not tied to a generation; it permeates all ages and races. Many Americans of European descent supported (and still do) Civil Rights.  Some even died because of their involvement. Many Boomers raised children to be global citizens in integrated schools.

I believe the real threat to a rise in racism is not genealogy but through online usage and I’m not talking about a subscription to Ancestry.com.  Check out the study, “Measurement invariance of the perceived online racism scale across age and gender.”[1] 

Racism today is not the result of the Boomers or any other generation of Americans with European ancestry interested in genealogy.  Unfortunately, racism will not die with the Boomers but will continue to grow as youths buy into the propaganda they are reading online.

Here’s another problem I have with the Post’s article; the author states “While European immigrants faced significant historic struggles, their descendants mobilized such hardships to dilute the claims of historically persecuted groups that remained marginalized with their own narratives of past immigrant oppression.”  She then goes on to cite Richard Nixon and his “coded language.”  While I agree that Nixon’s word choice were coded for his base, so are every politician of every party in every nation.  Generalizing that all descendants of Europeans who researched their heritage resulted in marginalizing persecuted groups  and “resonates with our modern-day genealogical revival” is just wrong.  Show me the data!

The author continues that although genealogy can benefit those members of historically persecuted groups, it can also “empower those who seek to divide, deny and disenfranchise.”  DNA with the Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” debacle is mentioned, along with others of primarily European descent attempting to gain access to programs for underrepresented people.  Let me be clear – it is wrong to try to gain entry to a privilege that was not established for you.  In my genealogical experience, people who have taken DNA tests typically do not take them for the purpose of undermining the system.  Most take them because they want to know who their birth parents were for health reasons, where their immigrant ancestor originated, or to compare their results with family members to determine which got what genetic material from each parent.

Native American ancestry is a family story for many Americans of all races.  I wish I had a buck for every time I hear it!  My own family had a version but long before DNA, I was able to prove what the true story was;
distant cousins were kidnapped by a tribe and held for several years.    One escaped and the other was released after a truce.

Knowing that information does not make me want to hold an indigenous group today responsible.  It was wrong to steal children then, just as it’s wrong to separate children from their immigrant parents today.  Learning this occurred in my family’s past makes me even more vehemently opposed to what is happening at our border.  Understanding what my immigrant family members were fleeing in the old country makes me more empathetic with today’s people who are seeking asylum.  Remembering that
my grandparents were targeted by the KKK  and
my father’s WWII Army placementwas made due to his German sounding last name (DNA now shows more French then German but who knew back them because there was no DNA tests!) allows me to listen to the message from historically disenfranchised groups to gain their perspective.

Historian George Santayana got it right, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Correlating genealogy with racism is wrong.  I know my family’s past because I am a genealogist.  My ancestors made mistakes just like every human does every day.  I strive to learn from their mistakes and follow their examples for what they did correctly.  

No one inherited a racism gene.  Racism’s root is fear of not being in power, of losing privilege status and therefore, of becoming indigent.  My definition of poor has nothing to do with money; I define poor as those who lack a moral compass.  I’ve met poor wealthy people and rich poor people, as I bet you have.  Interesting that the fear of having no money sometimes results in those who have it in become overly controlling at the expense of others to keep it and those that don’t have it, trying to differentiate from another group to make themselves feel superior.  Those kinds of people unite in their shared biased worldview and make it bad for all the rest of us.  It leads to a closed mindset and a regression to what we see happening with leaders across the world – derogatory name calling, ostracizing, categorizing, and segregating.  Communication ceases which only separates us further.

Please, let’s stop dividing ourselves by age, race, gender, place of origin, religion, sexual orientation, education level and career choice.  The Human Genome Project showed that we all share humanness, we are all one.  Our search for our ancestors isn’t the problem.  Finding your family’s story and relating it to the world today to make for a better tomorrow is imperative.  

[1]Keum, B., & Miller, M. (2018). Measurement invariance of the perceived online racism scale across age and gender. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 12(3), article 3. http://dx.doi.org/10.5817/CP2018-3-3.

Another DNA Site Bites the Dust

Shopping for holiday DNA kits?  I want to caution you about your upcoming purchase.  In the ever changing world of DNA, the results you receive won’t be the same a year from now and I’m not talking about mutations to your chromosomes. 

The more people that test, the larger the database (duh) and that increase results in a refinement of the ethnicities listed.  I’ve lost count of how many times Ancestry.com has emailed me that my results have been altered.  Make sure that you or whoever you purchased the test for, understands that the results are fluid.

Once you’ve wrapped your head around that concept, you need to be cognizant of the bigger picture – that your DNA results might just disappear.  Yes, you paid for them but that doesn’t mean they will be available forever.

I was one of the early testers on Ancestry.com; a few years after I had my X tested they moved to autosomal and no longer supported my original results.  The only way I could access DNA match was to be retested. 

Now the granddaddy of DNA testing has announced that they will be ceasing operation in June 2020 – National Geographic’s Genographic Project.  That project, launched in 2005, was an anthropological study to identify historical migration patterns.  Geno2 was unveiled in 2016 and now that is coming to an end.  Although the purpose of that project was not genealogical, families often were interested in the long term historical findings hiding in their DNA.  

At it’s inception the project was voluntary but I missed my local test date.  When the company decided to expand for a cost, it was pricey for my family’s pocketbook so I didn’t participate.  A colleague did and I was intrigued by the colorful interpretive guide that she received – just what you’d expect from National Geographic.  Eventually, when the price dropped, I did purchase a kit.

If you have results, you must download and save or you won’t be able to access after May 2020.  

The Dark Side of DNA

Happy Dia Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  This year, for Halloween, one of my family members created two glow in the dark pumpkins and a skull and dressed a skeleton to look like Disney’s Coco’s grandpa, Hector.  Sneaky way to get little ones to learn about genealogy relationships!  It was quite lifelike, or should I write, really dead looking?  Two little girls burst into tears which was not my intention and I felt awful but the mom’s said they loved the movie.  I had to show the girls that it wasn’t real.  One little boy was so enamored he said he had questions for Hector and could he come inside.  I told him Hector wasn’t talking tonight and would want the boy to enjoy his candy collecting.  Ahh, children and genealogy, what an interesting mix.  Their reaction is just like adults – some run when you start asking about family history and others want all the details.  

Two weeks ago I wrote about DNA now being available from hair follicles.  Right after reading that article, I found another story that I suspect relates to it though the articles purpose is to bring up a controversial side of DNA and genealogy.  The Messy Consequences of the Golden State Killer Case by Sarah Zhang published in The Atlantic 1 October 2019 will give you a better understanding of why GedMatch and Family Tree Genealogy recently changed their policies. 

As technology evolves, past policies must be rethought.  I’ve blogged in the past about clients and colleagues mentioning that their returned DNA results were just plain wrong.  We all understand that DNA is a Pandora’s box of family secrets but it never crossed my mind that medical procedures acquired as an adult could skew the results.  When I read A Woman Found Her AncestryDNA Test Revealed a Medical Secret also written by Sarah Zhang and published in The Atlantic on 13 September 2019, I was shocked by the findings.  I’m not going to give you a spoiler alert – you must read this article if you have DNA results that seem skewed.  Who would have thought this?!  Clearly not the specialists who first heard their patient’s stories.

Both articles are thought provoking whether you are a donor or are making the decision of sharing your DNA results.

The last DNA related article I’d like to share is a topic I’ve also blogged about in the past.  Accepting the foibles of your family history can be difficult.  Although the author, Ken Bradford, used DNA to build his tree, the old fashion research methods also provide the same results – acquiring the knowledge of the past sins of our forefathers.  Look What the DNA Brought In published in Notre Dame Magazine Autumn 2019 can be helpful if your wrestling with the dark side of your family findings.

All of this is quite spooky, don’t you think?  Happy Day of the Dead

Finding Photos and Memorializing the Fallen – A Unique Volunteer Opportunity

Last blog I mentioned Joseph Reid, the father-in-law of my husband’s 5th cousin twice removed.  You may be wondering why in the world I would have someone in my tree that is not related and so far removed.  Here’s the deal…I have done several surname studies which includes everyone by the same surname in a particular area.  My purpose was twofold; I wanted to try to connect all the Harbaughs in the U.S. and updated the last attempt to do so, the 1947 Cooprider & Cooprider Harbaugh History book.

As was common until the 20th century, the Harbaugh couples had many children so my tree became quite large.  (I’ve also did a surname study of the Leiningers but they immigrated later and didn’t have quite as many children in each generation but that, too, added non relatives to my tree.)

Since I have so many Harbaughs in one place and I documented each one as best as possible when I added them, I am frequently emailed about our connections.  Usually, the question is, “How are you related to my (fill in the blank) Harbaugh?”  Actually, I’m not, my husband would be the relation.  I guess folks don’t see the Ancestry.com relationship info at the top of the page:

I try to always respond and let the the person who is inquiring know that all the information I have is public and posted.

When doing the surname study, if information was available, I would include the parents of the person who married into the Harbaugh family but I didn’t research that distant individual.  That’s why Joseph Reid, the father-in-law, was in my tree.  Joseph Reid’s son was Joseph Shortridge Reid (26 Aug 1889 MO-5 Jan 1938 MO) who married Ruth Arelia Harbaugh (11 Feb 1891 MO – 29 Jun 1969 MO).  The couple had 2 daughters and a son.  The email I received regarding the Harbaugh-Reids was inquiring if I had a photo of Joseph Shortridge Reid Jr. who died on 17 Apr 1945 as a casualty in WW2.

The Fields of Honor Database is an organization devoted to memorializing the 28,000 American service personnel that were killed or missing in the line of duty.  They are planning a memorial service in 2020 and were hoping to find photos of those killed in action.  Joseph Reid Jr. was one of those individuals.

I was not familiar with the organization so after checking them out, I decided to try to find a picture of Joseph.  The organization had already contacted Ancestry.com tree owners who had Joseph in their tree but no one but me had responded. 

I don’t frequently research Kansas City, Missouri but I thought I’d accept the challenge.  I checked the typical online sites for a photo – Fold3, MyHeritage, Newspapers.com, Chronicling America, Google, etc. but came up with nada.  I then emailed the American Gold Star Mothers to see if they had a repository that could be accessed.  Unfortunately, the reply I received said they don’t.

Next I contacted the genealogy section of a Kansas City public library and the research librarian did find a photo, albeit of poor quality, that had been placed in the Kansas City Star newspaper with his obituary:

I provided the obituary and photo to Fields of Honor and was asked if I could help with missing photos for Indiana men.  I agreed to do what I could and selected Lake and Elkhart counties.  

Lake County, Indiana is a particularly tricky place to research as many of Gary’s records have disappeared with the city’s decline.  Of course, most of the men I needed photos for had resided in Gary.  I again did a preliminary online search as I had for Joseph and came up with nothing.  I then went to the Lake County, Indiana obituary database that the public library system has available online.  NONE of the names appeared in the database.  I know that database contains names of people who have died elsewhere, like my grandmother for example, so why were all of these men missing?  Then it hit me – I recalled during the Vietnam War that those killed in action had a special write up in the local paper, the Gary [IN] Post Tribune. Could it be possible that this was also a practice in other wars?  

Before emailing the library research team I decided, as a backup, to find more information about the men.  I turned to the 1940 US Federal census to try to get an address of where they were residing. Knowing the area, I thought I could turn to school yearbooks to find a photo.  I could narrow the search to the nearest zoned high school based on the 1940 address.  A few men were not found in the census in Lake County.  That’s not surprising as many men moved to Gary after graduating to secure work in one of the steel mills.  That newly acquired info just gave me another place to look if the newspaper didn’t have a photo.

I then contacted the research library staff and am happy to report the following Gary men have been found:

Cloyce Neal Blassingame served in the first integrated Army unit:

Robert E. Cook:

Robert W. Ferguson:

Robert Ferguson was also found in Emerson’s school year book:

and Gordon Miller in Lew Wallace’s school year book:

(The year book publication date was 1946 and Gordon died in 1944.  There was not a 1945 year book, possibly due to the war.  Gordon was pictured with the class of 1944 but I’d like to find verification elsewhere like I did with Robert Ferguson.)

I am still in need of finding photos of the following men:

  • George Fedorchak Jr. (son of Mrs. Mary Fedorchak, 1428 W 13th Avenue, Gary; in 1940 he lived with his widowed mother, Anna, and sisters Marguerite, Genevieve and Helen at 800 “This South Avenue” probably Harrison Street, Gary.  He born about 1920.  Perhaps mother’s name was Mary Ann?).  
  • Edward A. Gooding
  • Mike Zigich (son of Pete & Annie, 2077 Grant St., Gary, born about 1926.  His only sibling predeceased him as a child.  Parents and sibling buried in a Russian Orthodox Cemetery on Ridge Road.  I wrote the parish for a possible church directory photo but did not get a response yet.)

The Zigich name is driving me crazy because I seem to remember Zigich’s when I lived in Gary as a kid.  I’m thinking Mike’s father was a friend of my grandfather.  Their burial place was only a mile from where I lived.  (This is off topic but my dear readers know how my brain works – I know I’m not alone in having a hazy memory from my youth so this is another reason TO WRITE EVERYTHING YOU DO REMEMBER DOWN NOW about your own family.)

So, this gets a little creepy – as the pictures were discovered it slowly dawned on me that people I knew would have known these individuals.  My mother-in-law would have attended Emerson High School with Robert Ferguson.  My aunt and uncle would have attended Lew Wallace with Gordon Miller.  I do recall that Lew Wallace had a memorial to the fallen; I even read the names once when I was waiting for a ride home before I had my driver’s license but the names on the memorial were meaningless to me.  As a teen in the 1970’s, the 1940’s seemed to be in the olden days.  The names listed were just names, not real people to me.  

As the world seems to be forgetting the lessons once learned, “lest not forget” these brave individuals who gave everything they had to end tyrrany.  Don’t let these lives cut short be forgotten!  The Fields of Honor is looking for photos from across the United States.  Click on their database and contribute a picture of a family member or someone from your hometown.  It only takes a few minutes to check your local newspaper archive or public library.  Your help is not only preserving their memory, it’s also supporting society’s fundamental principles in our troubled world. 

Using back door techniques to solve a genealogy mystery

I’ve been researching a mystery man, Anton “Tony” Kos, who was buried in 1934 next to my great grandfather, Joseph Koss, in Oak Hill Cemetery in Gary, Indiana.  You can see from the above pic I took in December 2001 how close the stones are compared to the next stone to the right.  Looks to me like the plot was one.

I never got a straight answer regarding how Tony and Joseph are related, if at all.  I’d love to find out if they were related, which I strongly think is possible, and why my mother and grandmother refused to verify that.

Here’s what I know…I used to accompany my mom and grandma to the family cemetery around Memorial Day to tend to the graves.  We’d always go to the old part of the cemetery first, to clip the grass around the gravestone of my great grandfather, Joseph Kos[s] who died in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic.  When I was old enough to read, I noticed that next to his grave was an Anton Kos.  I knew the family name was originally spelled with one “s” but I had never heard of Anton so I asked how he was related and never got an answer.  I recall my mother just looking at my grandmother and my grandmother looking down and continuing to tidy up her father’s grave.  So, as only a small child will do, I asked again.  I never got a straight answer.  I tried several other times over the years and got various answers; that Kos is a very common Croatian name like Smith is in Great Britain.  That didn’t tell me if Tony was related.  It also didn’t explain why I never saw another grave in the cemetery with the original spelling of the surname.  When I asked about that, I got, “I don’t know why.” as a response. (There actually is another Kos, John, who died in 1934 buried in the cemetery but as a child, I had never seen that grave.)

I tentatively placed Anton as a sibling of my great grandfather Joseph.  Joseph was born in 1875 and Anton, in 1879.  I had called the cemetery in 2012 to ask who purchased Anton’s plot and was told that no one did because the cemetery records don’t have an Anton Kos.  I told the clerk I knew where he was buried, immediately south of my great grandfather.  They insisted no one was buried there.  Looking at the records, I understand what happened.  Anton is listed as Tony in cemetery records, even though Anton is chiseled on his tombstone.  Tony was what was recorded on his death certificate and the cemetery must have listed him under that name. My great grandfather’s tombstone has his Americanized name, Joseph Kos and not his birth name, Josip Kos so there was another possible clue that my family was involved.  These folks Americanized as soon as they arrived in 1910.

As an adult, I can see another family trait that gives credence to a relationship; my family plans for their deaths.  I could see that they would have purchased two plots when my great grandfather died in 1919 expecting that his wife would be buried next to him.  But she lived on until 1966.  I’m thinking when a family member who was in need of the plot died, the family buried him instead.  My family always helped out a relative in need, be it sending care packages back across the pond, fronting them money or taking them into their home for awhile.  My grandparents had purchased a larger plot in the newer section of the cemetery that was the intended burial site for them and my great grandmother.  It is also where I buried my mother’s cremains.  

After we tidied the old section (but we never touched Anton’s stone, which is interesting), we’d move to the new section to trim the grass around the Koss stone.  No one was yet buried there but my forward thinking grandparents had enough sense to purchase the stone while they were still employed.  (And thanks, mom, for taking care of your end of life stuff prior to your death.  Hope our kids appreciate we did the same – yes, you can already find me on Find-A-Grave.)

So getting no where with the cemetery, I decided to try to research Anton Anthony Tony to find a connection. 

From Ancestry.com, you can see his death certificate below:

No help with his parents info but it does say he was born in “Yugo Slavia” just like Joseph Koss.  He also died of lung issues, just like Joseph.  Joseph’s whole family had lung issues, hmm.  Not a smoking gun but certainly gives one pause to consider a relationship as they all died young. He also was a laborer in a steel mill, though not the same one where Joseph worked. Granted, most immigrants at the time were laborers and steel mills offered good wages.

I have never been able to find Tony in any census – having checked 1920-1940 under Anton, Anthony and Tony Kos, Koss and Ross (as my own people have been enumerated as). 

There is another mystery – who was Steve Sesta who provided the death certificate info?  I’ve never heard of him.

The death certificate gives me a clue to look at the address where Tony was living when he died, 35 East 39th Street, Gary, Indiana.

So here’s a tip – I want to use the 1940 census to find who was living at Tony’s address.  It could take quite some time using Ancestry.com because I would need to click on every enumeration area and Gary was a large city so there are many.  To save time, I used the National Archives site (just Google 1940 U.S. Federal Census enumeration map and you’ll be taken directly to it or use my link). 

Since I grew up in the city, I know the layout of the street and avenue names, which saved me time.  If you are researching an area you aren’t familiar with, simply use Google earth to get a better idea.  In my case, I knew that streets ran north and south, avenues ran east and west.  Street names west of Broadway used the president’s names in order (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, no repeat of Adams, etc.) and east of Broadway used states’ names, in no particular order.  So, I was looking for 39th Street and could eliminate all of the western side of Broadway simply by identifying if the first page of the census had a presidents name or not.

After going through 3 enumeration areas, I found the address:

The address was divided into two housing units, front and rear.  Steve, who had provided the death certificate info, lived in the rear.  That means Tony was living in the front but he wasn’t there in 1940.  It also explains why there is no parent information for Tony, neighbor Steve did not know that information.  (I know, you’re thinking I should check property records to see who owned the residence but the problem is most of Gary’s records were “lost” according to the Lake County, Indiana property appraiser’s office.  I suspect they’re somewhere in Gary and just weren’t turned over to the county when the law changed but I don’t live anywhere close to be able to hunt around for them so that’s a dead end for me.)

The death certificate did state Tony had worked for 1 year as a laborer for Illinois Steel.  He may have only arrived in the area in 1942, during World War II. 

I checked immigration records but there are many Anton Kos’ who emigrated from Austria-Hungary/Yugoslavia so I’m unable to pinpoint one of them as my mystery man.

I know, from a recent DNA match with another relative, that during World War II, my Cvetkovic relatives were displaced to another part of what is now Croatia, due to mayhem in the area where the family originally resided in Velika Gorica.  It certainly is possible that Tony had left the area because of the war and came to the U.S. to a place where family already resided. 

Tony was survived by a wife, Anna, who was born in 1878.  Perhaps she remarried as she is not listed in cemetery records by the last name Kos or Koss or like Tony, she wasn’t entered in the cemetery database correctly.  Unfortunately, only 30% of the cemetery is listed on Find-A-Grave.  There’s nothing on Billion Graves either. 

Somehow, I have a maiden name for her as Smolkovic but I have no idea where I got that info.  I also have a marriage date, but no place, and two children residing in Rhode Island.  That info was obtained years ago before I carefully sourced (shame on me!). This is an area I need to further research.

I checked City Directories and there is only one Anthony in Gary but he was married to a Mary living on Filmore Street in Gary in 1918.  He never appears in any other directory.  My Kos line doesn’t arrive in Gary until 1919 so I suspect he wasn’t the my Tony.  There is no Tony or Anton ever in any City Directory for Gary. I got his obituary thanks to the Ask-A-Librarian link on the Lake County library site but it provides basically no information other than he had died after a long illness, which disputes the information on the death certificate.  Or, maybe not.  Perhaps he suffered from lung problems for years but the incident that caused his death had been short.  

There is no one in my family much older than me left who would know – definitely no one who was alive in 1943 that would remember.  Decided I’d try the cemetery again since it’s recently been sold and maybe the new owners have done an inventory of grave sites. Sent an email on Sunday and haven’t gotten a response so will follow up with a phone call this week.  

If that falls through, I’m going to attempt to check Baptism records for Velika Gorica to see if I can link Anton to Joseph’s parents.  Unfortunately, they aren’t on Familysearch.org so I’ll have to email a genealogist in Croatia to do some digging.  

Connecting Tony and Joseph would be awesome but I’ll most likely never get the story of why he was not discussed since dead men tell no tales! 

Where to Search for Your Immigrant U.S. Ancestors

If you are researching when your ancestors arrived in the U.S., it’s important to know what documents were available to show immigration status.  Although it’s possible your forefathers didn’t become naturalized citizens, meaning they were granted citizenship, it’s wise to check records to gain family insights.

Before the break with Great Britain, immigrants to what is now the U.S. were considered subjects of the crown.  In 1776, every man, woman and child, excluding Native Americans and African Americans, were granted “collective” citizenship.  No documents exist to state that status, however.  It was a right earned by merely being in the country at the time it separated from Great Britain.

Between 1776-1789, an immigrant who purchased land could become a citizen through denization.  Check land records, if available.  Citizens who became naturalized through denization, however, could not hold public office.  An “oath of allegiance” was required to obtain voting rights and to hold a public office.  Oaths were recorded in court records. Even if your relative did not seek naturalization, they were required by law to report to the nearest court and register that they were residing in the country.  Check Report and Registry logs between 1798-1828. 

Although the laws changed between 1790-1906, typically 3 steps must have been completed for an individual to be considered naturalized.  After having a Declaration of Intention filed with the local court, a final petition 1-2 years later would need to be submitted in a court in the nearest town.  You may have to check various towns as settlers could complete the paperwork where they currently resided.  After the petition was accepted, a Certificate of Naturalization was provided by the local court.

Prior to 1906, immigration records were not as complete as in later years.  Only the country of origin and not the city/town may have been listed as people were on the move.  Typically, parent information was excluded but you may get lucky.  For these later records, you will need to file a request with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  Prepare for a long wait – I have had to wait over a year to obtain my grandparents paperwork but it was well worth it.  The photo alone was a gem!