A Strange Way to Select a Genealogy Research Project

Had a strange Sunday morning courtesy of my family.  

I got a wake up call from one of my adult kids asking me to list my top 12 dead ancestors that I needed  info on.  That made me laugh as I was thinking yesterday I need to move on from my Duer-Hollingsheads who I found a wealth of info for over the summer and now things have dried up.  Like most of the world, I’m over the pandemic and am starting to make plans for when we can travel again. While gardening, I thought I would list relatives I planned on researching by geographic region so that I could identify areas for trips in 2022 (yeah, I’m being overly cautious here.)

Within minutes I emailed my kid a list of 24 ancestor brick walls – 12 on my side and 12 on my husband’s side.  

A few minutes later I got another call that said, “Mom, you have to pair that list down to 12 total!”  Okay, sigh, 6 from each list.  

Since I was already on email I started reading and found I had two Ancestry messages over night and one email message addressed to my website.  Two were regarding Leiningers and one was Harbaugh.  People who discovered books and photos as they were cleaning and looking on Ancestry or my blog, found the named folks on my tree.  They were hoping to give the items a new home. Since I didn’t list one Harbaugh or Leininger on my brick wall list, this was personally hysterical as those two lines always seem to nudge me when I am working on other family.  

Minutes later, my kid brings over the cake pictured above.  On each tombstone is one of the names I had supplied that are a brick wall.  The chocolate pudding cake with cream cheese frosting was delicious.  The “dirt” on top is crushed Nilla wafer cookies dyed with food coloring.  Child had bought the cake mix at the start of the pandemic and said, “Let’s bury this thing and move on.” I agree!

I also got a homemade awesome Ancestor Hunter T-Shirt.  Neither of my kids have interest in genealogy but they are crafty and when the mood strikes, no telling what they’ll come up with.  

The weather was beautiful so we decided we’d have cake and coffee outside.  I was walking down the cobblestone path my husband had installed several years ago and took one step off onto the “grass.”  Unbelievably, my right leg sunk to mid calf.  My kid grabbed me as I sunk, originally thinking I had lost my balance and was about to fall. 

There is a reasonable explanation of why the ground gave way in that spot – we had a heavy rain last night and several years ago, a 200 + year old oak tree had been growing there.  We had to have the tree removed after a third of it blew down in a hurricane. The roots have been decaying for years and we guess, with the heavy rain, the ground just collapsed.  

I’ve never been stuck in quick sand but it was a creepy feeling to all of a sudden just sink into the ground.  I had difficulty pulling my leg back out of the hole.  Don’t know if my ancestors were ticked off or not but it was weird to be holding Daniel Hollingshead’s candy tombstone while I sunk over a foot into the ground. Yes, I know I need to move on from Daniel but I am still searching for his lost Bible so he remains up on the top of my list. 

We settled down to eat a slice of cake and child says, “I had real trouble with one of the tombstones. Catherine Jarvis’s keeps falling over and hitting Wilson Williams.”  Umm, Catherine was Wilson’s daughter-in-law!  They lived near each other in Long Island, however, Wilson’s “stone,” which I have blogged about in the past, is no longer in the cemetery next to his wife, Margaret Hicks.  It was this same child of mine that had discovered that at the Family History Library several years ago.  Of course, with no interest in genealogy, there was no remembrance of the names and the finding. 

If there’s a message in all this I have no idea what it would be.  I re-read my original Wilson and Margaret posts you can find here and here. They are still on my brick wall list as I need further proof of their parents.  Family lore gave me the parents’ names but I have no proof of that.  I’m thinking that’s who I need to research this afternoon, along with Catherine Jarvis.

If I find something wonderful I will definitely share it and use this unique approach again!  Since the world has certainly gone insane a novel way to research just might be what’s needed.  Consuming the name of a dead relative on a candy tombstone is weird but fits right in with the spirit of the month.  Happy Hunting!

That Creepy House in Your Neighborhood

It’s October and even though 2020 has been a nightmare, it’s my annual month to blog about the creepy in genealogy.  Last week, I wrote about my new neighbors and this week, I got another new set as a family moved into the rental next door. 

When you were a kid, I bet there was a house in your neighborhood that the older kids told you was haunted or where a witch or a monster lived.  In my memory, there were two homes that I was warned to stay away from late at night.  (In reflection, I was never let outside late at night so why in the world I would be afraid is beyond me today.)  

The first house supposedly had been used during the Civil War as part of the underground railroad.  Late at night, anguished crying was heard coming from the basement.  

The second house, though, was only two homes east of my grandparent’s house.  It was on the main road, route 6, and set far back from the street.  The small front yard was overgrown with vegetation and even midday from the sidewalk, you couldn’t really see a house.  My one year older than me neighbor, Carol, insisted that monsters lived there and would eat children.  She heard this from her older wiser brother, Tony.  She dare another neighbor, Raymond, and I with walking up the front door and knocking on it.  We must have been about 8 or 9 years old.  I took the challenge but only got a few steps toward the house when I turned and ran back to the safety of my friends.  Raymond got about as far as me and also turned back.  When we challenged Carol to do it, she shrugged and said she wasn’t stupid and wouldn’t take the risk.  

Just like holding our breaths when we passed a cemetery (ironic, isn’t it, as genealogists we certainly don’t do that now!), we’d stop breathing when we rode our bikes or roller skated past the house.  Later that summer, on the wooden telephone pole on the south side of the sidewalk, a nail had been driven into the pole and lots of leaflets hung down.  I ripped one off to read it with my friends but we didn’t understand most of what we were reading.  We decided it was dangerous so we ripped all of the papers down and debated what we would do with them.  Should we leave them on the ground?  That was littering and not good.  Should we take them and throw them in a garbage can?  But if they had a spell on them we would be transferring it to our home.  Guess it never occurred to us to walk around the block, down the alley and place it in the spooky home’s own garbage cans.  We opted to leave the papers on the ground.  

Shortly after, my mother somehow got wind of what we had done.  Perhaps our next door neighbor, Mr. Bauer, had spotted us or our loud arguing over what to do had alerted her that something was up, since no one had air conditioning in those days and everyone knew everyone else’s business.  I was so proud of myself for fighting “evil” I told my mother I had ripped down a pamphlet and it was from the monster and we were stopping others from getting eaten.  I remember the pained look on my mom’s face.  She told me I must go back, pick every pamphlet up and put them back where I found them because there was this law that said there was free speech and I was breaking it.  Huh?!

I didn’t like disappointing my mom and now I was afraid as my friends weren’t with me for back up on my newest quest.  I tried to get out of it by saying I would do it after lunch.  Mom said no lunch until I did the right thing.  I told my mother if I never came back for lunch it was because the monster ate me.  She told me, as she had many times before, no monster was going to do that.  She said she would accompany me and I immediately felt better.

I picked up all the papers though some had blown into the street.  She retrieved those.  We tidied them up and I couldn’t reach the nail nor did I have the strength to punch the paper through the head.  She ended up doing that for me; one pamphlet at a time.  We then went home for lunch.

Over lunch, mom asked me why I thought monsters lived there.  I related Carol’s story.  She told me that two people lived there, an elderly widow and her invalid son.  We should respect their delicate condition.  After lunch, she told my friends the same thing. 

Carol must have told her parents as the next day she told me that her parents said my mom was liar and that the family were monsters.  Calling someone else’s mom a liar was fighting words and things got heated.  We didn’t come to blows but we did huff off mad at each other.  

At home, I told my mom what happened and she laughed.  I saw no humor in the situation.  I wanted her to tell Carol’s parents they were liars.  My mom sat me down to explain that people have different views of life and that Carol’s parents had fled Spain’s dictator, Franco, just a few years earlier and that they would consider a Socialist sympathizer a monster which evidently, was what was on the pamphlets.   That afternoon my mother explained political systems.  Prior to then, my understanding was democracy was best and per the the nuns in school, we should always thank God for not being raised in communist Russia because there, the government made children tell on their parents who prayed at home and the parents would be killed.  

So before I start getting hate mail, my mother was a staunch Republican.  Those long dead nuns probably wouldn’t be happy with me for thanking God that my mom didn’t live to see the current state of the world but that’s really what I’m most glad for this week.

Today, I live between two families who are strongly supporting opposing candidates.  My neighborhood is up in arms over one of the signs that has a word I would not publish in my blog and is visible to children who play in the park across the street.  Others are saying it’s free speech. The neighborhood association rules prohibit political signs but the board refuses to act.  

When the world gets to be too much, I find solace in genealogy.  I always get insight from those dusty records and the lives of the deceased.

I decided to do some genealogical sleuthing to discover info about the occupant “monster” from my childhood neighborhood.  It was a good way to take a break from my own brick walls (had a major disappointment that I’ll share in the future, sigh) and learn a little bit more about the people I knew as a kid.  

I approached the task the same way I would with a client; writing down everything I did know.  Using Google maps I got the address.  Looked at the property tax records which wasn’t very helpful since the family I was searching was long gone.  From previous experience, I know that most of the city records are missing; when the city went into foreclosure the county requested the property records but not all were delivered according to county officials.  The city officials dispute that (of course). I would also have tried to check the vertical file at the library but unfortunately, the city has shuttered all of their libraries due to financial difficulties.  

Using online sources only, I began to investigate the family residing in the home.  Census, death certificate info, immigration records and family tree information gave me additional information to ponder.  I never met the family that lived in that house in the 11 years I lived two houses away.  I now have a greater insight on them; they really did have a difficult life.  

Maybe the answer is praying that more people take the time to learn from the past so we can all have a harmonious future.

DNA Ethnicity Surprises

Ancestry.com has again updated their DNA Results Summary.  Sure, it’s only as accurate as the number of people who have tested.  What my latest results tell me is that Ancestry has had a whole lot more Swedish, German and Slavs testing and not many Balkans.

I know this because the updated results show I am 42% Eastern European and Russian and 41% Germanic Europe.  

In Ancestry’s last update, I was considered French; today I am of German ancestry. 

My paternal line would not have thought much of that finding; with a name like Leininger they would have accepted the Germanic Europe as fact.  The truth is more complex – the ancestors that were forgotten most likely would have been livid with the designation as they considered themselves French. My two times great grandmother was christened as Marie Marguerite not the Germanic Maria Margarette.  Her spouse was christened Jean Leininger and not Johan.  They resided in the Palatinate, the region that flipped several time between what is now Germany and France. They wisely spoke both French and German. Funny that the land has stopped switching but the ethnicity indicators haven’t.  Ancestry would be smart to have a Palatine region noted instead of moving ethnicity results every update.

Interestingly, the results do include 5% of an ethnicity estimate as French and the region is the Riviera, where my Lamphere’s (Landfairs) did reside in the 1600’s prior to fleeing France for London and then Ireland and then Virginia.  It appears they intermarried with relatives and others who fled with them and that is somewhat supported in that I now have no Irish identified.  Well, that’s not quite true, either…

My Irish is encompassed under my Scottish designation.  

I also find it interesting that I have Welsh separated from England (which encompasses Northwestern Europe now).  I am most definitely Welsh with my people moving to Cheshire for a time.  That is shown in the map, along with the northwest section of France.  That is also correct as I have some William the Conqueror folks originating in that French region.  

My maternal line, though, would have my grandmother in requesting her money back.

Family stories shared by my grandmother say her side moved to the what is now the outskirts of Zagreb, Croatia around the time of Christ because of overpopulation on the island to the south where they once resided.  That would most likely have been Kos Island, part of Greece today.  The now defunct National Geographic project did route my ancestry on that trail.  Grandma said my grandfather’s people had already been in the Zagreb region when her people arrived and they had been Gypsies. National Geographic’s results showed that, too.  Using records, I can show that my maternal line was in the Zagreb region as far back as the 1600’s.  Based on a title the family was awarded, I can show some were in the region as early as the 1100’s.  For 900 years, they resided in a small area in what is now known as Croatia.  According to Ancestry, I’m 3% Balkan.  

Explaining to my grandmother how Ancestry obtains their results would have been maddening.  I’m sure some of you are going to have to try with an older relative.  I send you good thoughts in doing that!

I am quite impressed, though, with Ancestry and their Swedish results.  Look above as I have shown how Southern Sweden is shown by region.  I have worked very hard to get most of my husband’s Swedish lines identified and they are from the area Ancestry identified.  I’m looking forward to someday seeing a trend like this for my other ethnicities.

Ancestry has also released a section called StoryScout.  It’s housed under DNA and includes information that you may have provided in a tree.  I didn’t spend much time on this but I did take a look and it reminded me of something that is important to do and I honestly fail at it.

The section is based on census and military records from the 20th century.  Sure, I’ve saved those records to my ancestors 20 plus years ago.  I know where they lived, who they lived with, blah blah blah.  What gave me pause, however, was that it correctly showed my maternal grandfather and noted that his income was nearly twice that of an average man at the time.  He made $1400.00 per year when the average was in the mid $700.00’s.  Wow.  This explained to me why my immigrant family could afford a car in the 1920’s, a phone in the 1930’s, travel to California in the 1940’s and to Europe in the ’60’s.  Now I understand why grandma, when babysitting me, would drag me to the nice stores and dress shops and had her hair done each week.  Duh!  They never flaunted their wealth and dutifully shipped supplies several times a year back to the old country.  Thanks, Ancestry, for taking one small data point in the census and giving me an insight I hadn’t he thought about.  Try it, it might work for you, too.

More Tech Safety Suggestion

Last week I blogged about my Evernote account being hacked.  I reached out to some tech savvy colleagues for advice and wanted to share something with you that might be helpful.  

An IT engineer recommended that I check my email accounts for hacks by visiting https://haveibeenpwned.com

That’s not a typo – it is pwned and not owned!

Enter your email address on the page and click pwned?

I have several email accounts and I entered all of them to check.  I was surprised to find that one had been breached.  It was a government site from last summer that I use for genealogy research.  I changed the password on that site and just to be more secure, changed my email password.  

While changing my password I had another “Aha!” moment; I never took the time to really check out my email Security settings.  The devices I have connected to the email are shown but I had to pause at the Third-party apps with account access.  My bad for not reading the small print and clicking “I accept” when visiting an organization’s website!  I had given permission unknowingly to two retail organizations to have access to my calendar and contacts.  It was quite easy to disable that!  I’ve begun my holiday shopping so after I’m done, I plan on rechecking my email account to see if I somehow give permission for access that is unwarranted.  

Just like covid, behind the scene activity to your tech tools can maliciously effect you!  Take a few minutes to check it out and stay safe!

Evernote Info to Keep Your Info Safe

I haven’t used Evernote in awhile, so imagine my surprise this morning to receive an email that someone with a Mac in India signed on to my account 7 hours earlier.  Definitely wasn’t me or anyone I know!

Being somewhat paranoid, I tend to not click on links sent to me in emails.  Instead, I used my current Kindle to go directly to Evernote online as I haven’t downloaded the ap to that Kindle.  

Another surprise – I was unable to disable the device as my account was accessible only from the Kindle that I had the ap downloaded to.  I’m really not understanding that since the hacker didn’t have the Kindle with the ap on it!  Unfortunately, I’m not tech savy enough to figure out how to access my account on a different device so I then spent time on a Kindle hunt to find the device with the ap.

Took me a few minutes to figure out where the old Kindle was and to fire it up.  After getting through the ad to purchase more Evernote services, I clicked on Settings and Devices.  Sure enough, there was the hacker’s device.  Clicking “disable” hopefully blocked the hacker from having some afternoon fun with my account.  

The hacker didn’t find anything useful as after taking notes, I transfer them to whatever computer I’m using as soon as I’m done with a meeting or archive visit.  I keep nothing on Evernote.  That practice wasn’t established because I didn’t trust Evernote to keep my documents safe; it was my process to use Evernote in settings that aren’t conducive to paper and pens/pencils, such as in a library stack or outside at a cemetery with the wind blowing.  Now I’m glad that was how I used the ap!

I decided it would be wise to change my password.  I’m a little miffed with Evernote as you cannot easily do that.  The directions online say to go to Account Settings and click Security Summary.  I don’t have that, possibly because I never purchased an updgrade package.  My only option to update a password is to email them and then they send me an email and then I go back to their site and change the password.  All this for a device I don’t even use any longer.

So, adieu, Evernote.  I’ve uninstalled the ap on the old Kindle after clearing the cache and signing out of the account.  I won’t be downloading it to my new one, either.  When the pandemics over I’ll be using the note ap on my cell instead.  

Time Sensitive – Saving Your Ancestry.com Messages

With only 3 days left before Ancestry.com pulls the plug on your access to old messages sent to you in their system, you’ll need to follow the instructions below soon or your old correspondence will be lost.

It’s quick and easy but times a wastin’!

First, after logging in, click on the envelope icon on the right side ribbon next to your sign on.

Next, you’ll see swirling circles while the page loads.  On the bottom left the following message will be displayed:

Click the green button “Download Folders”
It doesn’t take long.  Underneath the button your messages will be downloaded to your computer as a zip file:

Clicking the zip file will display any folders you may have created to save correspondence.  Mine looks like this:

It is saved to your computer’s download file.  Go to the Download Folder on your computer, find the file and drag it to where you want to save it.  For the purpose of this blog, I just moved it to my desktop but will be placing it in a Cloud.  

To view a message, simply click on it.  In the Baines folder, the message will be saved to look as follows:

Yes, just like the comedian “Mr. Bean,” I have Beans in my family!  

This simple task will take you less than 5 minutes.  Why would you not want to save information from far flung family members?  It’s also a good way to go back through old correspondence as a missed clue may be unveiled.  Many of my messages contain email addresses and if I haven’t written to the individual in awhile, I might not be able to locate the address quickly if I need to in the future.  Since you just never know where genealogy is going to take you, I’d rather be safe then sorry by saving the data today.

Education in a Pandemic

Today’s blog is not about genealogy so you can stop reading now if that is your interest  Instead, it is my take on the current state of the educational environment.  I am writing this because I am furious. Our today becomes tomorrow’s history; I want the future to learn from the past.

I missed writing last week as I was consumed with my newly designated title of ESSENTIAL WORKER and due to the lack of communication, cooperation and consistency in government policy, was working 16.5 hour days with no compensation for the overtime or weekend work so that children can go back to school and die alongside their teachers.  It makes my heart break.

My long time readers know I try very hard to not to be political in my weekly blog.  I understand bureaucracy moves slowly.  I respect free speech and differences in opinion.  I have been an educator since 1977.  I did not choose that career to get rich or for the summers off (we don’t get paid and we work most of the summer unpaid planning and taking training).

That said, I will not stand by silently when peoples’ lives are needlessly risked.  Don’t believe it (like one of my neighbors who insists there is no reason to wear a mask), here’s the facts – a 6-year old girl died Monday of covid in the same school district that the person WITH NO BACKGROUND IN EDUCATION who is UNELECTED but APPOINTED by the governor and who, like those currently tweeting that the virus will magically go away, refused to allow the school district where this child died to deliver educational services for an additional 3 weeks online because “Step aside, folks, there is nothing to see here!”  These bullies threatened to withhold all state funding if school does not resume with a brick and mortar, aka traditional, model by the end of August.  

Due to the wavering decisions and the utter lack of concern for children, their families and the public school staff, I, along with my colleagues across the country, have worked tirelessly to try to make the smallest classes possible for social distancing and to quickly trace students from period to period WHEN THE VIRUS ATTACKS.  This is not an IF, this is most definitely a WILL. 

For those that don’t believe that, here’s the truth…in my small school that opened to teachers only 3 weeks ago, we have already had 1 teacher with a covid diagnosis in the second week.  At my previous school, in the same time period, with about the same number of staff, they’ve had two.  My husband’s school has had two since April, one in the last two weeks.  If you have this many infections with educated adults all wearing masks and social distancing, using hand sanitizer and washing their hands well, you don’t think you’re going to have a problem when the students return?!  Think of yourself as a kid.  Instead of playing cooties the elementary kids will be playing covid.  Middle schoolers can not stay out of each others faces and forget social distancing with high school and college – they are huggers!  The children are doing developmentally what is normal but these times are not.  If we can’t save them from themselves their is blood on all of our hands.

I am outraged at the system that allowed this to happen  I also question how a teacher became an essential worker in the last week.  If that’s the case, why do we close schools for weather problems?  

Just come out and tell us how many in power view our role – you want cheap childcare and if you lose a few, well, that’s life!  You never cared about educating children before; if you had, you would have funded us adequately so the little darlings didn’t have to go door to door selling overpriced junk.  My husband and I wouldn’t have had to spend our own money for years on items our students needed.  If the value of education was really a priority there would be no threats to withhold funding.  I am so sick of the lies.

If I read one more article or hear one more news story about teachers being happy to return to school this fall I’m going to scream.  NO THEY AREN’T.  Like the rest of humanity, they long for the good ole days, last seen this past February, when they could make a difference face-to-face with their students.  Those days are gone for now and what is needed more than anything else is prioritizing life over what once was.  

If everyone had done what was the right thing to do we wouldn’t be faced with this problem today.  Children wouldn’t be dying.  Those kids that return to school and live through this will not have to have the burden for the remainder of their lives of knowing they brought home an illness that killed their family.  They won’t have to face the grief at the loss of their beloved teacher.  This madness can be halted and I’m praying someone, somewhere has the power and the sense to do the right thing.  

I’m also sick of hearing about students falling educationally behind.  Here’s a quick and simple solution for that – just have everyone attend year round once the virus is behind us.  Cut out the electives for the summer term and just teach the basics.  Duh!  If we can have students skip a grade then the whole issue of learning loss is a moot point anyway.  Studies have shown that students who do not start school until age 8 can compete academically in a short time.  Funny how our leaders, and I use that term loosely, pointed to Nordic countries who kept schools open last spring as what we should do.  Those are the same countries with well funded educational systems that don’t have young children in formal education.  They have physicians and dentists available for the children.  Heck, I can’t even get Walmart to donate free eyeglasses to my needy kids anymore.  So again, I ask, if education is so vital, then why are the basics not provided for our children?  

No electronics in the home?  Seriously, except for the last two generations NO ONE WAS EDUCATED BY USING THE INTERNET.  Here’s a novel solution – have local districts pay the local newspaper for a subscription for every family.  The lessons can be incorporated in the newspaper.  It’s delivered daily to the family’s door.  You’re developing a generation who will learn more about their community and the world. They are practicing reading and math by analyzing the charts and graphs.  Vocabulary is enriched.  You’re insuring that the press remains a vital and important partner in the community.  Why are we not doing this?  As much money as schools saved on paper and ink they can certainly afford to purchase a year newspaper subscription for their students.  Actually, in my community, the newspaper is already free electronically for our students.  If schools wanted to save even more money, they would just need to purchase a paper edition for those that don’t have electronics.  

I am fortunate to be able to be eLearning but several of my fellow teachers were not granted the same privilege I was, even though several has serious medical conditions and two are still recovering from covid’s long lasting side effects.  

If you have taken the time to read this I want to thank you.  Send good thoughts or pray or whatever you believe in because my colleagues, my students, their families and the greater community needs all the help it can get.  

New(er) Genealogy Resources For Your Toolbox

I’ve been consumed with my Hollingsheads for the last two months so I’ve not blogged about a few awesome resources I’ve come across that may benefit you.  Some are free, some are not.  Here they are:

  • MyHeritage Photo Enhancer is a wonderful tool not just to fix blurry photos but also get a better view of fuzzy documents.  I tried this out in June when I was having difficulty transcribing handwriting from a Quaker document.  I also tried it on an extremely blurry group photo I had of my husband’s Harbaughs but the original photo was too small so it didn’t work well.  You can read more about this here.
  • New York Genealogical and Biographical Society began Beta testing in March their new online collections.  I was not a participant due to other commitments though I did use it briefly in June and July when I was in need of New York records.  Here’s more info about the update.
  • Want to attend a training/conference/Zoom/GoToMeeting, etc. session but know you’re not available at the day/time it’s being presented?  No worries – most organizations will record and make the session available for viewing later.  Go ahead and sign up anyway.  You’ll probably get an email with a link to view later.  I had to miss an APG Virtual Chapter meeting in June and an American Ancestors class in July but was able to watch what I missed at my convenience later.  So, go ahead and sign up for the event even if you can’t attend!
  • Academia.edu is a new tool in my toolbox and I honestly couldn’t have analyzed my Hollingsheads in Barbados as I did without it! There is a membership fee, ballpark about $50 annually, that I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth in the last two months.  The site allows you access to unlimited journal articles and papers by educators on a wide variety of topics.  I selected history and the Caribbean in particular to learn more about the time period I was researching (1650-1750).  That allowed me access to archaeological studies recently done to gain a better perspective of what life was like then, historical works revisited (so I could easily find primary sources), and opportunity to contact social scientists with questions directly.  The site is not just for history enthusiasts but that’s the only part I’ve used.  Membership also provides you your own website, which I have not set up since I already have my own, but it’s a nice feature and looks like it’s quick and easy to use if you’re new to webdesign.  If you’ve used JStor, this is similar but I’ve found that it contains more info if you’re focusing on a sliver of time and place.  
  • Don’t forget YouTube and your local Genealogy Society!  I recently watched a wonderful video about River Pirates.  I had no idea there was such a thing in the Midwest, nor was I aware of some of the terror that reigned in small communities due to deranged families. It also never occurred to me that there was poor workmanship back in those days that resulted in lives and supplies being lost.  I heard about the topic from my local genealogy society; one of the member’s brother was the speaker and I’m so glad I viewed it.  Hubby and I went to school in Indiana and that topic was never addressed in the curriculum!
  • Last but not least, and probably more important than everything mentioned – if you haven’t noticed Ancestry.com has updated their messaging system.  Gone are the folders you may have previously used to save correspondence with other members.  You can download it so you don’t lose anything.  I strongly urge you to do so TODAY as it will be gone this month.  I don’t know what they did yesterday but I had 11 messages.  I had recently reached out to several folks who had some Hollingsheads in their trees but it wasn’t 11.  In reviewing the messages, I discovered most were not new (9) and the two that were were old – one was from November 2019 and the other from June 24, 2020.  Guess they got lost in cyberspace but it did make me look bad as I try to respond within 48 hours!  Check out this feature to see if the update they did before dawn’s early light this past week affected your messages.

Finding the Family Jewels – Bibles, Included!

Ever wonder what happened to an object that was once held in high regard in your family but has since disappeared?  Maybe you aren’t sure if there ever was such an item but you’d like to explore the possibility.  This blog is for you…
When I began internet genealogy back in the 1990’s we still had dial up service.  Remember that?  Going through your home phone line to connect resulted in no one being able to get a phone call while someone was surfing.  With all the junk calls I get daily, I’m thinking that wasn’t such a bad option, but I digress.
Back then, my husband would joke that it was okay he couldn’t make a phone call because I was hunting down the family jewels.  Clearly, our families never had much jewels but I did wonder whatever became of the muskets or hoop skirts or Bibles.  Most likely, the muskets broke and when the hoop skirts were no longer haute couture they were either repurposed or trashed.  The Bibles, however, never went out of style so what happened to them?
Your first step in locating the long lost item is to research if it ever was.  Start by asking your oldest living relative.  I know that no Bible was brought from the old country by my maternal side because I asked my grandparents, who were the gateways, if they brought it with them.  Both said they brought one suitcase filled with clothes.  Case closed, pun intended!
I never asked my paternal grandparents that question, though, because my grandmother died when I was a child and my grandfather remarried, moved away and we never had contact again.  My father then became the oldest relative and his reply was, “You’ll get the book when I die.”  Huh?  I questioned further and he meant there was a family history book that had been written in the 1970’s and he intended for me to have it.  Except that didn’t happen. Since my step-mother would not give it to me, my second step became casting a wider net.  I had two aunts but neither responded to a letter I wrote (this was before wide use of email) so I posted on a genealogy website that I was looking for a copy.  Two people responded that they had copies and provided me a look up.  One even reached out to the author who was living in Europe and he sent me an electronic database of his book.  Today, you can easily accomplish this by messaging distant family members who have online trees that contain the ancestor whose information you’re seeking or you can check worldcat, Google Books, Hathi Trust, Internet Archives and Archive Grid to see if the whereabouts of what you’re hunting is listed there.  Facebooks’ Family Treasures Found would be another site to check.  One of my aunts eventually responded and sent me her copy.  Patience is key here for lots of reasons; perhaps the site you messaged isn’t used much by the recipient or life just happened to get in the way.  In my case, my Aunt wanted to check with her two daughters to make sure they had no interest in the book.  They didn’t so that’s how I ended up with a copy.  Actually, I ended up with two copies because my step-mother took pity on me after my mother died and gave me the book.  So now, I have two – one for each of my kids or for another family member that may sometime in the future contact me with the same request.
Getting the information through look up was wonderful, however, if what you’re seeking is a one of a kind item then this approach may get you closer but not really fill your need.  Step 3 will save you time and it’s quite simple – just go online and research if what you’re seeking is documented to have existed and if so, when and where was it’s last location.
If you’re following me, you know that I’ve been working all summer on my Hollingshead line.  In my research to verify the identify of Daniel Hollingshead in three locations (England, Barbados, New Jersey Colony) I looked everywhere online and emailed numerous archives to check for information that hasn’t been digitized.  It was during the online portion of the research that I discovered Daniel had brought a Bible with him from England as it was noted in old biographical books highlighting descendants in the late 1800’s.  To aid in keeping the whereabouts of the Bible’s locations known, I went to Step 4, I created a timeline.  For simplicity here, I’m not including the source citations but my timeline in Excel notes exactly where the information came from so I can analyze it later:
1683 Leicestershire, England – Daniel’s birth as reported in 5 books (1965, 1911, 1900, 1886, 1882)         Lancashire, England – Daniel’s birth place as reported in 2 books (1870 & 1857)1686 Leicestershire, England – Christening record for the 2nd Daniel born (1st  Daniel 1679-1685)1688 Bible printed in Oxford, England
You can clearly see the problem with the conflicting place and dates. Further research shows no Daniels born in Lancashire during this period.  Only two Daniels were born in Leicestershire during this time, both to the same parents.  Probably every book is wrong with the birth year as there would be no reason for the family to name a 2nd child Daniel until the first one was deceased.  Yes, some families do that but this line hasn’t shown that to be the case although they often reuse names when a child dies.  More likely, Daniel 2 was born between 1685 (1st Daniel’s death) and 1686 (christening record).  Typically infants are baptized soon after birth but that might not have been the case.  A family member may have seen the 1683 recorded but was really written was a sloppy last digit that should have been a 5. 
Here’s another problem the timeline unveils – the published date of the Bible would be AFTER Daniel’s birth, no matter what year is correct.  Still, I want to locate it as it would hopefully confirm the birth location and would have been the next closest document made to Daniel’s real date of birth.
Here’s the next problem – The Bible mentioned in some of the books state that Daniel brought the Bible with him when he came to New Jersey. I need more info to further develop the timeline.
If you’re wondering why I would need to know where the Bible was kept that long ago it’s simply because if it is found, I need to understand how it was passed along.  Since I don’t know if the Bible contains any genealogical information as many Bibles exist and families don’t record vitals in them, I need to know where it’s been so I can validate the information it contains, if any.
Ship manifests haven’t been found for him so it’s not known exactly when Daniel emigrated.  The books mention he, along with several brothers, were in the Battle of Blenheim.  So, did Daniel take the Bible with him in battle (August 1704)?  No clues there.  Did Daniel return to England after the battle?  Don’t know! At the time of the battle Daniel was not the oldest son so the Bible would have likely been in the possession of a brother who died in battle.  If the Bible had been brought to Blenheim, Daniel would have assumed ownership of it at that time.
It’s probable he did return to England after the battle and took the Bible with him when he decided he was permanently leaving England so that would have been between 1705-1711.  The last date is when his first child was born in Barbados; since he met his wife in Barbados he probably arrived between 1705-1710.  So my timeline continues:  
1705  Battle of Blenheim (now Germany)1711  Daughter born in Barbados1714  Wife dies in Barbados1715  Daniel listed in Barbados census1716  Daniel remarries in Barbados1717  Daniel purchases land in New Jersey Colony1717-1718  Two children born to second union in Barbados1721  Beginning of numerous land sales in New Jersey Colony1730  Daniel dies intestate in Somerset, New Jersey Colony
Step 5:  To determine where the Bible went after Daniel’s death is to expand the tree to include all of Daniel’s children from both of his marriages.  You also must keep in mind customs from the time period. Understanding how the family thinks is key to finding the current location of the item.
My line follows Daniel’s first child, Mary.  She would not have inherited the Bible for several reasons – she was from the first union and she was a female. Clearly she was not a favored child by her step mother as she was not named in the will.  Daniel had older sisters in England so if the family was unconventional for the times, an older sister and not Daniel would have kept the Bible after the oldest sibling died.  I know that Mary did not have the Bible as there was no documentation found in her line to ever note she had it.  There is no documentation that any of the female children ever had it. 
Daniel’s eldest son, the second child, would seem the person to have inherited it but that does not seem to be the case.  Numerous books and documents show that Francis did, as the oldest male, manage the assets after Daniel died intestate and quickly lost them.  From the will of Thomasin, Daniel’s second wife, she acknowledges his ineptitude by naming one of her youngest daughter’s as administrator to her estate and gives each of her adult children only a shilling.  Her manumitted slaves receive most of the proceeds from the remaining estate.  You may think that the administrator would have received the Bible, since she was given the responsible task of handling the final paperwork, however, she had married late in life and had no children so she did not get the Bible.
Two of Daniel’s male sons had died before his second wife.  They had no children so we can eliminate them from the hunt.
That leaves one line – 6th child, 3rd son William.  Oh joy, William had 9 children.  This may seem overwhelming but following what we know – most likely to be passed to a MALE with CHILDREN, we can quickly eliminate who got it.  It appears that son James inherited it as books from 1882 & 1886 state his son, Stroud Jacob’s wife, had the Bible in her possession after Stroud died, along with “old family papers.”  So now I want to find both the Bible and the papers.  
First, I want to understand why Stroud had the Bible.  He was the third son and fourth child.  The eldest died with no children, we can skip the female (sigh) and the next son left to go out west and never married.  Makes sense why Stroud would have it.   
Fast forward to 1900 when the Bible was known to be in the possession of one of Stroud’s grandchildren, a Jeannette Jackson.  WOW!  How did a female get so lucky?  Times were a changing and it seems everyone of the now fewer children got something.  Harriet, the oldest, had died but her oldest daughter was Jeannette who got the Bible.  Stroud’s second child had died childless.  The third child, James’ son received a breast pin that was passed down to Edgar Pinchot Hollingshead.  The eldest, a daughter, received a painting on ivory of one of Daniel’s sons, William (same line).
Now this should be easy, right?!  1900 wasn’t that long ago and so we just need to track Jeannette and we’ve found the Bible.  Not so fast…Jeannette died unmarried and childless in 1923.  Two brothers predeceased her.  Her sister married but had no children.  Now we’re at a dead end.  Not!
STEP 6 is to research further in new areas.  Since we’re looking for a record from less than the last 100 years newspapers are the way to go.  Thanks to a “cousin” helping me with the search, a record was found in a Pennsylvania paper (and the Bible came to New Jersey first, remember!) that said an Elizabeth Malvern Hollingshead was going to “loan” the Bible to a local historical society in 1924 for an event that was to be held.  Loan is the key word here but still, I reached out to the historical society to see if a) they still have it on loan or b) they reborrowed it sometime since and know where it is.  Alas, they do not but they do have the “old family papers.”  Bingo!  I’ve at least traced part of the missing items.  I’m awaiting their lookup for confirmation of vitals.
Now it’s time to go back to Step 5 and trace Elizabeth’s line to the present.  That was done and the most likely candidate was emailed at his work email.  He hasn’t responded.  I know he’s reading his work email because it was an interesting system – it notified me that he had been on the site the previous day to my email. 
Finding a long lost heirloom is a matter of patience and persistence.  Keep notes, enlist others to lighten the load and you will hopefully find what you seek.  Happy Hunting!

Spam and Genealogy

As genealogists, we are used to spending our days looking at old documents, reading up on events that happened long ago and trying to put our “head” into the times that were so we can better understand when we analyze our findings.
We don’t dwell much on the fact that every day we are all making our own history.
I haven’t read anywhere a recent personal finding I discovered so I’m putting it out here now…
As a blogger I get A LOT of spam,  I’m not talking the pork based product – I don’t do sales pitches! I’m referring to the internet type.  You don’t see it because of the filters I constantly update to insure that the junk doesn’t get through to impact your experience or worse, infect your device.  In a typical pre-pandemic week, I got over a thousand spam hits easily, often closer to two thousand on each of my sites (my website and Blogger).  Since the pandemic, the amount has fluctuated over the months.  
When various countries reopened the spam increased; as they shut down again it decreased.  The majority in the past was from China and Eastern Europe. How do I know that?  Because it wasn’t in English.  I suppose someone who speaks English could have been using Google Translate to fake a hit but I’m not sure how likely that would have been.
Since May, my spam has been two-thirds in English based on my unscientific analysis.  I’m basing the one third on the incorrect English word choices that are being used.  (Hint to Russia and China Spammers:  We really don’t say ‘that cool’ much anymore).
In the past, the spam consisted about half regarding dating, a quarter for obtaining cheap medicines and a quarter claiming my blog was the best ever and directing readers to a link for purchase of a product that had nothing to do with genealogy.  Interestingly, the medical links are now scant.  The dating has turned hardcore and blunt.  The majority is product links.  My take is spammers are focusing on frustrated people and are trying to make a fast buck.  Just like elective medical procedures taking a back seat, so are sales of pharmaceuticals.
Last night I got a late email selling Halloween costumes.  I was flummoxed!  My first thought, was this couldn’t be serious – who is thinking of Halloween when nearly each day of 2020 has been a horror and we’re stuck in a perpetual Ground Hog’s Day. Then I thought, maybe it’s a message of hope to return to what we used to take for granted – normal times.  I don’t know what the motivation was to send an email late on a Friday evening for a holiday that may or maybe not be celebrated in three months but it did give me pause. Based on my spam and email type and amount, we’re a long way from “normal.”
What does this have to do with genealogy?  Everything!  Our times are historical and the stresses we humans are under right now impact the choices and decisions we make.  This data analysis shows insight on the conditions of our times.  
IMHO, with the utter chaos that greets us daily, what should become a priority is responsibility and obligations to community to insure the well being of all. I’m seeing so much of that in the genealogy community and not so much in other groups in which we belong.  History will be the judge of how we, as a society, have handled the numerous crises that have befallen us in the first half of 2020.  I’m looking forward, not to Halloween or Thanksgiving or Christmas, but for a turn around of hearts so that we can move forward together for a better future.  Today, I’m going back to my tree to work on my long dead people who have faced their own tragedies and rose to the occasion. I want to follow in those footstep. Perhaps your ancestors will help guide you in dealing with these troubling times. All the best!