Memorial Day Memories

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 24 May 2015.

Most holidays start with Happy – Think Easter, Thanksgiving, and New Year. So every year, when I hear about the upcoming “holiday” sales in honor of Memorial Day, I cringe.  I don’t consider Memorial Day a holiday.  Yes, it’s a 3 day weekend.  Yes, school is almost over for the year.  Yes, it’s even a time to spend with family and friends but it is not a holiday.  On Memorial Day I believe we should all honor those that came before us allowing us the freedom we have today.

I will not be visiting graves this weekend as all of my family is buried far away from where I reside.  That doesn’t mean I won’t be thinking of the sacrifices of my forefathers and my memories of past Memorial Days.

As a child, my grandmother, Non, always took me with her to tend to the graves of her father and uncle.  As a first generation American, she had no fallen soldier graves to care for in this country but I remember the cemetery filled with small flags to honor American veterans.  Non was lucky her Sonny, my Uncle George, had made it home safely after serving in the Coast Guard during World War II.  

George and Betty Mione Kos

As Non and my mother pulled weeds and clipped grass growing around the stones, I would read the inscriptions if I could, because my multicultural neighborhood had many markers engraved in languages other than English.  Although I could not read the Polish, Lithuanian, Greek, Italian and like my Great Grandfather’s memorial, Croatian, I knew that the men buried there had shared a common experience in a war.  The back of the cemetery held the graves of World War I veterans, the middle section seemed to be for those killed in World War II and in the front, Korean and Vietnam veterans.  Too many lives cut short too soon. 

I am also fortunate to have my father’s diary from World War II while he was stationed in Alaska.  

Orlo Guy Leininger

His war time experiences were very different from my husband’s uncle.  With a German surname, my father was not sent to Europe but to the Pacific theatre instead.  My dad’s sister, Mary Ellen Leininger Tronolone, enlisted as a Yeoman, First Class, in the Navy.  Most of her service was in Washington, DC.

Mary Ellen Leininger Tronolone

Having known most of these family members I am proud of their bravery and thankful for their service.  You can read more memories of soldiers by visiting a Crestleaf blog, Real Letters of Love, Hope & Inspiration Written by Soldiers – A Memorial Day Tribute 

Genealogy Gems – More Online Resources You Need to Know About

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 21 May 2015.

Last time I told you about 5 of my favorite free sites and here’s a few more that I think you’ll love as much as I do:

  • Every Sunday, with my morning coffee, I look forward to reading The Genealogy News Weekly Edition sponsored by Genealogy Today support@genealogytoday.com.  This newsletter contains lots of press releases from the most well known organizations in genealogy to keep you up-to-date, as well as research tips and findings from historians around the world. I click on the links and when I find one that may help me with a brickwall, I copy and paste the site info as a comment on my ancestry tree associated with the person I’m stuck on. This way, I don’t forget the source to check out and I don’t feel rushed to do it immediately.  Since my tree is public, others researching the same ancestors can see the comment and check it out themselves.  Win-Win for everyone!
  • Another very good newsletter is Genealogy and Technology E-News by Thomas MacEntree, also the founder of Geneabloggers.  You can subscribe at geneabloggers@gmail.com.  I’ll be writing a future blog soon about info in one of the past newsletters.
  • I’ve mentioned Legacy before but they deserve to be mentioned again – weekly newsletter and webinars that are well worth taking.  Subscribe to their email list at http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/LegacyLists.asp
  •  My infatuation with Pinterest is recent.  I created an account when it was new but I couldn’t figure out how to use the site for genealogy so my husband commandeered it and posted all kinds of building, gardening and craft ideas. That worked for me – my backyard is gorgeous with all the ideas he’s found!  Last winter I returned to pinterest with genealogy in mind and organized my site as Genealogy Guffaws (humor), Genealogy Quotes, American History, Middle Ages and Genealogy Organizers.  Go to https://www.pinterest.com/ and put your interest area in boards or type my site names (Genealogy Guffaws) to go directly to my pages. You’ll be amazed at all of the genealogy related info that is out there.
  • My personal favorite of all is Google Picassa https://picasa.google.com/.  I have uploaded all my photos and stored them in the cloud.  This way, I don’t have to worry about their destruction, my family has access and they’re organized by person so I can find the photo I’m looking for quickly, wherever I am.  The absolutely coolest feature, though, is facial recognition.  I had a lot of old photos in which my dearly departed ones didn’t bother to identify the people. Picassa gives you suggestions as to who they might be based on photos that you have already identified.  It does tend to mix up young children – confused my kids several times but since I knew who they were it was a quick fix.  I have this downloaded on my desktop but you can view it anywhere, anytime.  I also have my smart phone photos sent directly to the site.  For my recent trip to Salt Lake City, Picassa created a book based on the photos that it uploaded. It was a wonderful way to remember the trip and took no time on my part to do that!

Hope you’ve found these free sites valuable.

I’m always looking for more so let me know about others that are your personal favorites.

Genealogy Gems – Online Resources You Need to Know About

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 17 May 2015.

I was rereading Mills’ Professional Genealogy this past week and the chapter on The Essential Library got me thinking of the resources that I consider must haves.  Mills was referring to books on a shelf but I find myself using more online resources these days.  Wish her books had a Kindle edition; it’s so clunky to carry around!

Besides the obvious Big 5 resources – Ancestry, Family Search, Fold3, Heritage Quest and American Ancestor – that I can access as a paid member anywhere or use at my local library for free, I find lots of good info at these FREE sites:

  • Genealogy In Time Magazine in their words, “maintains the most complete list available on the internet of the newest genealogy record sets from around the world.”  I love this resource for the time they save me in identifying newly posted internet records from around the world.  See more at here.
  • Crestleaf.com blog has innovative ideas and heartfelt and humorous stories.  They email me links to their featured stories so I can quickly click what I’m most interested in.  Here’s examples of just a few of this week’s offerings:  21 Ways to Know You Were Raised by Polish Parents – Infographic, 5 Simple Ways to Organize Your Digital Family Photos, 7 Useful Smartphone Apps for Genealogy Research, If You Grew Up in the 1960s, You Definitely Wore These Things, The Most Important Step Missing From Your Genealogy Research, and Simple Tips for Dating Old Family Photos Using Women’s Hairstyles-Victorian Era.  Sign up at http://crestleaf.com/blog
  • Paper.li allows me to create my own newspaper – daily, weekly or monthly – on the topics that I want to read about.  I’ve entitled my own newspaper Genealogy@Heart.paper.li and it’s delivered to my email with interesting articles on history, genealogy and genetics.  I love the professional formatting and the articles arranged by topics – for example, science, business, politics, etc.  It takes only a few minutes to set up and it’s simple to add or delete sites. To create your own paper visit here.
  • Linkedin –were you aware that there are genealogy groups at this site?  There are 269 groups noted – some are open to all and some are private.  Once you’ve created a profile go to interest areas and type in genealogy.  Click on those that interest you https://www.linkedin.com/
  • Facebook – I don’t use Facebook like most folks do; I rarely post anything about me but I definitely use the info that organizations have posted.  Check out the Association of Professional Genealogists, Genealogy Buffs and ask to join Deciphering Genealogy Script, Lineage Society of America and Genedocs Templates.  Also look for your local and state genealogy and historical societies.

Next time – 5 more free sites that are simply awesome for genealogy!

Marker Mistakes – Historical Plaque Inaccuracies

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 14 May 2015.

Finding documents with conflicting info is common.  Determining which information is correct takes careful analysis.

Lisa Lisson’s article in Crestleaf about the Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Researching Your Family’s Genealogy notes that you can’t believe everything you read.  (Check it out here.)

Although Lisa’s referring to documents, I had to laugh when I read the following headline in the Tampa Tribune, one of our local newspapers:

marti-plague
“Jose Marti historical marker outside Ybor building is wrong.”1

The marker states that Jose Julian Marti Perez, a Cuban poet and political theorist, slept at the Cherokee Club in 1891 on his first visit to Tampa.  Problem is the Cherokee Club wasn’t opened until March 25, 1896, months after he had died in 1895 in Cuba.  Oops!  Evidently when the plaque was installed in the 1960’s no one checked for accuracy.  Several members of the Florida State Genealogy Society have written that they have errors in plaques in their counties, as well.  I don’t know why it never occurred to me that a plaque could be wrong; I assumed that someone somewhere had done the research.  Apparently they did but the information was still wrong.  A well respected Tampa historian, Anthony Pizzo was interviewed 30 years ago about the plaques that are all over town.  The project began in the 1940’s. “Mr Bock at the time was the director of the Military Institutes of Cuba.  He volunteered to make the historical markers at the military foundry and put them all over Ybor City.  He said, ‘All you need to do is the research and write them up.’  We were beside ourselves – what a fantastic deal!  So I took it upon myself to find out as much as I could, and I started to interview oldtimers, Cubans who were in their 80’s and 90’s.  What I learned from them was unbelievable-that we had such a rich history.  Then I started meeting historians in Havana, and one of the friends I really admired very much was Jose Rivero Muniz.  He had written many books-he wrote Conquistadors En La Florida and Los Cubanos En Tampa, which I cherish!”2  Pizzo added, “The first marker was erected in front of the Ybor factory.  It is a beautiful stone put up by the Ybor City Rotary Club.  I think it was in 1949.  That was the first one.  And of course when Castro took over our project became paralyzed.”3  A local foundry agreed to cast the plaques at a discount and individuals donations poured in.  “I quess I personally have been involved in putting up more than forty historical markers not only in Ybor City but all over Tampa.”4  Makes you wonder how many other plaques contain errors.

The story made me want to discover where Marti spent his first nights in Tampa.  First I went to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser site to verify the building date but the construction details just note Pre-1940 Commercial.  Tampa was incorporated in 1849 but the area where this building is located was not in the city limits. At the time, it was an unincorporated area.  The current building, now on the National Register for Historic Places, was built as an exclusive men’s club and to house the offices of Vicente Martinez Ybor (pronounced Ee’ bor) the planner of Ybor City, which is now part of Tampa. I guessed that Marti slept in a hotel that was at that site before the Cherokee Club was built.  I found the deed information in the Library of Congress records:

“Original and subsequent owners: The building is located in the Ybor City subdivision, Block 31, lots 6 through 10. The title records for this building, supplied by Chelsea Title and Guaranty Company, Tampa, Florida, are as follows:

1886

Deed recorded December 1, 1886, filed February 24, 1887 Book W, page 572 W. Wells and wife to Vincent Martinez Ybor, lots 6,7,8

1886

Deed recorded December 1, 1886, filed February 24, 1887 Book W, page 572 W. Wells and wife to Vincent Martinez Ybor and wife

1887

Deed recorded January 25, 1887, filed June 18, 1887 Book X, page 64 Vincent Martinez Ybor and wife to Ybor City Land and Improvement Company”5

cherokee-club
VIEW OF FRONT CORNER – Cherokee Club, 1318 Ninth Avenue, Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL6

“The Cherokee Club, built by the Ybor Land and Improvement Company and opened March 25, 1896, was the most exclusive men’s club in the city. This club was unique in that its members combine persons of Latin and American heritage. The object of the club was to promote social intercourse of its members. The popular pastimes in the club were relaxation, entertainment and gambling.

In 1924 Jose Alvarez bought the club and operated it as a restaurant and hotel called the El Pasaje. Although the club was closed during the prohibition, the restaurant and the bar were the center for many luxurious banquets.“7

My guess was wrong – there was no hotel on the site during Marti’s first visit to Tampa. That location was a vacant lot. Unless Marti camped out on the grounds, which I doubt as the mosquitoes would have eaten him alive and then he may have contracted malaria, he had to have slept somewhere else.8

Marti arrived in Tampa and was received by “Carbonell on the morning of November 26, 1891. That day lunch at the guest house Leonela Nestor, who had great memory, and narrated details of the war…”9

“We do not remember days, we remember moments” -Cesare Pavrese

Leonela Nestor may have had a great memory of the war in Cuba but he didn’t have a very good memory of dates. Either he got the day of the week or the day of the month wrong.  I suspect it was the day of the month as Marti must have arrived on November 25 and not the 26 because in the evening, Marti gave a lecture at the El Liceo Cubano, 1300 7th Avenue, a social and political club founded in 1886.10  His speech was so well received that “after a time they carried Marti off literally on their shoulders through the streets of Ybor City in the early hours of a Thursday morning singing the Ten Years’ War-era hymn of independence known as the ‘Bayamo Anthem’ and eventually delivering him to the door of host Nestor Carbonell.”11

In 1891, the 26th was a Thursday so it is most likely that Marti arrived in Tampa on the 25th.12

Although the newspaper article doesn’t cite its source, I did find a reference for Marti staying in a boarding house owned by Ramon Rubiero de Armas.13 I think it’s more likely that Marti stayed at the home of his host, Nestor Carbonell.  We know, “that the next day, November 27, (the 26th) again at the home of Leonela Nestor, both discussed details related to the future creation of the Cuban Revolutionary Party.”14

marti
(Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)

p, pre {margin: 0;} input.blogger-ie-hack {position: absolute; left: -9999px;}hr.more {border-width:1px 0 0 0; border-style:dashed; border-color: #666; height: 8px; background:#ddd}table.tr-caption-container {padding: 6px; margin-bottom: .5em} td.tr-caption {font-size: 80%; padding-top: 4px} img {cursor: move}body {margin: 8px 16px;}

Marti was invited to speak that evening by the Cuban Patriotic League in remembrance of the anniversary of the execution of 8 medical students.  The event was also held at the Liceo Cubano.  After the speech, Marti is said to have “drafted documents related to the future Party” on Nestor Leonelo’s desk.15

Marti departed Tampa on November 28 after receiving a farewell toast at the El Liceo where his previous evening’s writings were read to the attendees.

If Marti did not stay with Carbonell, he certainly spent much time at his home.

Who was Marti’s host, Nestor?  Nestor Carbonell Leonelo Figueroa was a journalist and teacher turned Captain of the Cuban Liberation Army who considered himself a “socialist, though he never specified of what school.”16

Nestor emigrated to Key West from Cuba in 1888 but was forced to leave due to his political views.  Arriving in Tampa with his 3rd wife and 8 children, Nestor was aided by friends to open a school, publish a newspaper, La Bate, and serve as a librarian and treasurer of the newly formed Revolutionary Club, the purpose of which was to raise funds to liberate Cuba from Spain.  A club member had heard Marti lecture in Philadelphia and recommended that he be invited to Tampa to speak at a fundraiser for the Revolutionary Club.   By May 1891, Nestor was named president of the club and extended the invitation to Marti to come to Tampa.

Carbonell writes of Marti “Hence, when from a group of Cubans (from) Tampa invites you to take participation in an evening, you accept the invitation.”17

So where did Nestor live in Tampa?  Since there is no 1890 US Federal census record for Tampa I looked for city directories.  The Tampa Public Library’s oldest directory is from 1906.  The Tampa History Museum has a slim volume from 1893 but you must make an appointment to view it through the Tampa Public Library.  I have an appointment for next Monday and I’ll share with you what I discover.

The Tampa Tribune article notes that there were other errors in the plaque.  You can read it in its entirety here:

I’m challenging you to check out a plaque in your community and let me know what you find. Wouldn’t this be an interesting project for a local genealogy group, historical society or a social studies class?  I don’t think I’ll ever look at plaques the same.

___________________________________
1“José Martí Historical Marker outside Ybor Building Is Wrong.” TBO.com. 1, 10 May 2015. Web. 11 May 2015.

2″Tony Pizzo’s Ybor City: An Interview With Tony Pizzo.” Tampa Bay History7.2 (1985): 142-60. Print.

3Ibid

4″Tony Pizzo’s Ybor City: An Interview With Tony Pizzo.” Tampa Bay History7.2 (1985): 142-60. Print.

5Fl-271, Habs Ho. “Cherokee Club (El Pasaje).” Historic American Buildings Survey (n.d.): n. pag. Library of Congress. Web. 13 May 2015.
6“Prints & Photographs Reading Room | Prints & Photographs Division – Library of Congress.” Prints& Photographs Reading Room | Prints & Photographs Division – Library of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2015.
7Fl-271, Habs Ho. “Cherokee Club (El Pasaje).” Historic American Buildings Survey (n.d.): n. pag. Library of Congress. Web. 13 May 2015.
8Altonen, Brian.  Public Health, Medicine and History The 1890 Census Disease Maps.
9“Néstor Leonelo Carbonell Figuerosa.” EcuRed. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2015.
10 Rajtar, Steve. A Guide to Historic Tampa Florida. Charleston, SC: History: 169, 2007. Print.
11Lopez, Alfred J. Jose Marti:  A Revolutionary Life. Austin:  University of Texas Press: 253, 2014. Print.  Information taken from Hildago Paz. Jose Marti 1853-1895, 144-145.
12″November 1891 Calendar.” November 1891 Calendar. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2015.

13Wright, E. Lynne. It Happened in Florida Remarkable Events That Shaped History. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot: 62, 2010. Web. 13 May 2015.
14“Néstor Leonelo Carbonell Figuerosa.” EcuRed. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2015.
15Ibid
16Casanovas, Joan, and Joan Casanovas.  Bread or Bullets!:  Urban Labor and Spanish Colonialism in Cuba, 1850-1898. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh: 217, 1998. Print.
17Carbonell, Nestor.  PROCERES. Ensayos Biográficos. Havana: Montalvo y Cárdenas,1928. Print.

Motherhood and the Brain

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 10 May 2015.

A extra special welcome to my readers from across the pond – Australia, Finland, Great Britain, Ireland, Netherlands, Slovakia, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine and closer to home – Canada and of course, the good ole U.S.A.  Happy Mother’s Day to All!

My day will be spent being spoiled by my family, recuperating from my recent conference in New York City, processing what I learned, and planning how I can incorporate it in my work – both in counseling and genealogically. The conference, Learning & the Brain, Educating World-Class Minds: Using Cognitive Science to Create 21st Century Schools, was phenomenal  So many passionate educators, psychologists, and physicians from around the world united to discuss research findings on how to prepare students for being global citizens.  I kept thinking about my family tree.  I call my husband and me Mutts – as in belonging to no special breed.  Our people have migrated across several continents for lots of reasons and I bet your family tree is very similar to ours.

Every time I visit the Big Apple I am reminded of a family paradox.  My husband’s family was early Dutch settlers who operated a farm on the East River in what is now the Wall Street district.  A large bank currently sits on the farm property and that particular bank owns the mortgage on our home.  I don’t think that’s right. It’s downright absurd.  My husband agrees that his family has never done well with real estate ventures and selling that farm on what is currently such expensive property validates our opinion.

While walking around Manhattan this past week my thoughts turned to Ghislain1 and Adrienne Cuvellier de la Vigne, Walloons who emigrated from Leiden to New Netherlands with their children in 1624.2

Born about 1586 in Valenciennes, France, Adrienne’s maiden name most likely refers to her father’s occupation, which in English would be a cooper.  Coopers made barrels and utensils, primarily out of wood.  Ghislain’s last name could also give us a hint as to his family’s profession, Vigne means vineyard in French.  I’d rather like to think of this as a match made in heaven instead of a marriage to consolidate business – the vineyard owner’s son and the barrel maker’s daughter but I will never know.  I do know the family stayed intact and together through much adversity to create a new life in a new world.

Although a truce between Holland, France and Spain began in 1609, about the time of Adrienne & Ghislain’s marriage, there was no telling if it would be continued after its 1621 expiration.  Complications further arose in the region between the Roman Catholic and Protestants.  Valciennes was part of the Netherlands but ruled by Catholic Spain. Adrienne& Ghislain were Protestant.  We know from Baptism records of their children that by 1618, the family had relocated to Leiden, Holland, an area that was known to be safe and tolerant.3  There the family adapted by changing their names; Adrienne became Ariantje and Ghislain became Willem Vienje. (I’ll continue to use their birth names.)

How the family was selected by the Dutch West India Company to settle in New Netherlands is not known.  Hart (1959) mentions that a wealthy merchant and founder of a Lutheran congregation in Amsterdam, Herman Pelgrom, was living in Nuremberg where he married a Susanna Cuvelier in 1578.  Pelgrom’s four sons from his first marriage were involved with the New Netherland’s Company in Amsterdam by 1609.4 Some researchers believe Susanna Cuvelier Pelgrom was related to Adrienne and tipped her off about the opportunity but I can find no connection.  Perhaps the Vignes’ heard town gossip and volunteered to go.  However they were selected, the family must have been eager to start a new life as land was scare in Holland and the promise of religious freedom must have been enticing.

In the Spring of 1624, two ships, the Eendracht (Unity) and the Nieuw Nederland (New Netherland), sailed into the North (Hudson) River, bringing the first colonists to New Netherlands.  “Although we do not have a Netherlands record regarding the departure of Ghislain and Adrienne (Cuvellier) Vigne and their children Marie, Christine, and Rachel, they certainly were on one of these vessels, as their son Jan would be the first male child born in the new colony, or at least the first male child who survived and remained there (Sara Rapalje was the first female child born in New Netherland).”5

Have you ever sailed on New York’s Harbor?  Each time, I marvel at the breathtaking view of the Manhattan skyline and reflect on the past hopes and dreams of immigrants as they approached Ellis Island and the promise of what Lady Liberty stands for.  That is not what greeted the Vignes’.  Instead, they were met by a French ship blockading the Dutch for the purpose of claiming the land for the French king.  “The Dutch vessel, ‘rendered imposing by two cannons’ forced the French to leave rather than fight.  The way clear, Captain May brought some of the immigrants 144 miles up the Hudson River and docked at Fort Nassau” (what is now Albany, New York).6

The following year, the Vignes’ began farming in Manhattan. The family grew with the addition of son, Jan.  Happiness was brief; by 1632 Ghislain had died leaving Adrienne with 2 minor children as the eldest daughters, Marie and Christine (from whom my husband is descended), had married. Marie married Jan Roos and shortly after his death, Abraham Ver Planck.  Christine married Dirck Volgersen.

Eleventh Great Grandma Adrienne did not remain a widow for long.  Jan Jansen “Old Jan” Damen, emigrated to New Netherlands about 1634.  Old Jan was a warden of the Dutch Reformed Church and owned a large piece of land just west of the Vigne farm.  Combined together, the land tract ranged from Pine Street north to Maiden Lane and from the East River to the Hudson River.  We’re talking prime Manhattan real estate today!  Before the marriage, a prenuptial agreement was signed.  In part, it reads “Dirck Volgersen Noorman and Ariaentje Cevelyn, his wife’s mother, came before us in order to enter into an agreement with her children whom she has borne by her lawful husband Willem Vienje, settling on Maria Vienje and Christina Vienje, both married persons, on each the sum of two hundred guilders … and on Resel Vienje and Jan Vienje, both minor children, also as their portion of their father’s estate, on each the sum of three hundred guilders; with this provision that she and her future lawful husband, Jan Jansen Damen, shall be bound to bring up the above named two children until they attain their majority, and be bound to clothe and rear the aforesaid children, to keep them at school and to give them a good trade, as parents ought to do. This agreement was dated the last of April 1632.”7

The prenuptial did not insure tranquility in the family.  On June 21, 1638, Damen sued to have Abraham Ver Planck and Dirck Volckertszen “quit his house and leave him the master thereof.”8  Dirck countered with a charge of assault and had witnesses testify that Jan tried to “throw his step-daughter Christine, Dirck’s wife, out of doors.”Records show that Adrienne remained married to Old Jan but continued a positive relationship with her adult children. This must have placed her in a difficult position.

Old Jan’s character is further shown in 1641 when, as a member of the 12 Man Council he was one of only three on the committee who wanted to exterminate local Native American tribes.10 Although out voted, Damen persisted.  In February 1643 he “entertained the governor (Kieft) with conversation and wine and reminded him that the Indians had not compiled with his demands to make reparations for recent attacks. ‘God having now delivered the enemy evidently into our hands, we beseech you to permit us to attack them,’ they wrote in Dutch on a document that survives today.”11 The Governor agreed thus Kieft’s War, a three year conflict between the Algonquin tribes and the Dutch resulted. It was the begining of the end for Damen.  His neighbors horrified by the bloodshed nicknamed him “the church warden with blood on his hands” and expelled him from the local governing board.”12  I wonder how Adrienne felt.  Was she ostracized by the townsfolk along with her husband?

Leaving politics, Old Jan began to amass considerable wealth in a new way – as one of the owners of La Garce, a privateering venture run between 1643-1646.13  (If you don’t know French, you really must do a google translate of La Garce.  This is what makes genealogy so wickedly interesting!)  You also read correctly that Old Jan financed a privateering venture, aka piracy.  When you think of La Garce, think Pirates of the Caribbean.  Records show that in April 1645 the vessel returned to New Netherlands with goods of tobacco, wine, sugar, and ebony seized from two Spanish ships in the West Indies.  In 1646, it returned from the area off the Bay of Campeche, Mexico with a load of sugar and tobacco.14

In 1649 Old Jan returned to Holland due to a court case in which he was defending Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch Director General of New Netherlands, leaving Adrienne behind on the farm.  He died before returning to her, in 1651.

I wonder how the neighbors treated Adrienne after Old Jan was gone –  did they shun or embrace her? There are no records to tell us.  I speculate that Great Grandma lived quietly until her death in 1655.

And what happened to the farm?  Damen’s “heirs sold his property to two men: Oloff Stevensen Van Cortlandt, a brewer and one-time soldier in the Dutch West India militia, and Dirck Dey, a farmer and cattle brander. Their names were ultimately assigned to the streets at the trade center site. Damen’s was lost to history.”15

Unfortunately, so was the whereabouts of Adrienne’s burial.  Christina Vigne’s husband, Dirck, and her sister, Maria Ver Planck, were sued by Dutch Reformed Church Elder Claes Van Elstandt on March 8, 1658, for nonpayment of Adrienne’s grave.  The pair claimed to have given money to Rachel Vigne’s husband, Cornelius Van Tienhoven, who had absconded with it 16 months prior. The court ordered all heirs to pay for the grave.16  The debt was paid but there is no mention in the records of where the grave was located.

On this Mother’s Day, I wanted to remember Adrienne.  Although she died 360 years ago there are mother’s today still seeking safety from brutal spouses, war, and religious conflict. My Mother’s Day wish is that they can persevere and be as strong as Adrienne.


1Ancestry.com. New York, Genealogical Records, 1675-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.

2Dorothy Koenig and Pim Nieuwenhuis, “The Pedigree of Cornelia Roos, an Ancestor of Franklin D. Roosevelt,” New Netherland Connections [NNC] 2(1997):85-93, 3(1998):1:1-5, correction 3:2:34-35 corrected Ghislain’s originally recorded name as Guillaume.

3Parry, William. New Netherland Connections Quarterly, Vol 3 No. 1, Jan-Feb-Mar 1998.

4 Hart, Simon. The Prehistory of the New Netherland Company: Amsterdam Notarial Records of the First Dutch Voyages to the Hudson. Amsterdam: City of Amsterdam Press, 1959. 22.

Macy, Harry Jr. The NYG&B Newsletter, Winter 1999, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society at http://www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org (search for the pdf – you don’t have to be a member to view this)

6 McNeese, Tim. New Amsterdam. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2007.56.

7 New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, Volume 1, ed. and trans. by Arnold J. F. Van Laer. Baltimore, 1974

8 McVicar, Hugh D. McVicar Post Ancestry: The Ancestry of George Wesley McVicar (1884-1936) and Naomi Theresa Post (1881-1951) : 16 Generations of Family from Toronto to Scotland, New England, New York & Overseas. Madison, Wisconsin: E. J. Burch, 2003. 38.

9 Ibid

10 “Blackmail as a Heritage: Or New York’s Legacy from an Earlier Time.” In The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, 771. New York: Century, 1887.

11Lupton, Eric.  “Ground Zero:  Before the Fall.” In The New York Times, June 27, 2004.

12Ibid.

13Jameson, J. Franklin. Privateering and Piracy in the Colonial Period:. New York: A.M. Kelley, 1970. 9.

14New York State Secretary’s Office. Dutch Manuscripts, 1630-1634. Vol. II. New York: Weed Parsons, 1865. 36.

15Lupton, Eric.  “Ground Zero:  Before the Fall.” In The New York Times, June 27, 2004.

16 Rollins, Sarah Finch Maiden. The Maiden Family of Virginia and Allied Families, 1623-1991: Aker, Alburtis, Butt, Carter, Fadely, Fulkerson, Grubb, Hagy, King, Landis, Lee, Scudder, Stewart, Underwood, Williamson, and Others. Wolfe City, Tex.: Henington Pub. ;, 1991. 20.

Specials to Share!

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com 29 Apr 2015.

I had planned to write about my decision to obtain Certified Genealogist status but this week I discovered 3 special offers so I’ve revised my plan to let you know what I found.

DEAL #1

If you aren’t a Legacy member, you may not know that you can take advantage of their webinars; some cost, some are permanently free and others free for just a limited time.

For a list of their archived webinars visit:http://www.familytreewebinars.com/archived_webinars.php

I’m not a member of Legacy so I only watch the free ones.  I first learned about the webinars when I signed up for their weekly email newsletter after I purchased Legacy software last Christmas as a present to myself.  I ended up with Legacy because I was so frustrated with Family Tree Maker (FTM).  My extremely large public “Main Tree” on Ancestry.com stopped synching with my desktop FTM last May.  I called FTM customer service and they blamed Ancestry.  Called Ancestry and they blamed FTM.  This went on for several weeks.  I did what everyone does when you call a call center and can’t get help – hang up, wait a few minutes and call again with the hope you’ll get someone more knowledgeable.  Unfortunately, that didn’t work, either.  FTM reps did sent me a useless email with instructions several times but it didn’t fix the problem.  Next I posted on the Ancestry Message Boards asking for advice.  Surprise, surprise, discovered from the Message Board that I wasn’t alone with the problem so I began to explore other family tree software options.  Looking at them seriously made me start pining for my old PAF from Family Search!  Since that’s no longer available, for a temporary fix, I downloaded Legacy’s free family tree standard software

https://www.legacyfamilytree.com/DownloadLegacy.asp#Download

and was happy that it could quickly save my Ancestry tree.  I liked that it also gave me an error report.  I just wanted a product that would serve as a backup on my desktop in case I couldn’t sign on to Ancestry but the more I used Legacy, the more I liked it so I decided to buy the latest version.  I haven’t really explored all of its features yet which is on my to-do list.  I am trying to download my Ancestry tree monthly and save it to Legacy.  After a weekend thumb drive disaster, it’s something I really will make time to do on the first of every month (Famous Last Words!) but that’s another story…

On Monday I listened to the passionate webinar presentation by Bernice Alexander Bennett regarding her volunteer work at the National Archives and took the challenge she mentioned.  No spoilers here – this is a must listen to training offered through May 1st! on Legacy so sign on for the 1 hour class “United States Colored Troops Civil War Widow’s Pension Applications:  Tell the Story.”

DEAL #2

The second special offer with a limited time is that Fold3’s Civil War records are FREE for the month of April.  If you aren’t a paid member then you’ll really want to check this out by Thursday, April 30th at 11:59 PM!  You’ll have to register your email at

http://www.fold3.com/ 

but it’s well worth it.  I stayed up way too late last night but got all of my “close” Civil War records saved to honor the 150 years since the war ended.  This included my great great grandfather Ferdinand Kable (Ohio Infantry Unit 29 Company A), 2 times great uncles Thomas, Prosser, and Mark Duer, (Ohio 99th Infantry Regiment, Company F), my husband’s great great grandfather Samuel August Samuelson (Indiana Infantry Unit 73), and 2 times great uncle Thomas Charles Thompson (Illinois 1st Light Artillery Battery).  I also saved records for several coworkers whom I’m working on their trees for my Certified Genealogist portfolio.

Then I got totally side tracked and looked up the War of 1812 pension records for my 3rd great grandmother, Mary Polly Dennis Hodge Adams Elder Search.  Yep, GGGGrandma outlived 4 husbands.  Her first husband, John Hodge, died in combat and she was left in 1813 with twin boys in the Ohio wilderness.  And to think I thought childcare was a nightmare when my kids were small; I can’t even imagine what she went through!  Her second husband, Edward Adams, whom I’m descended from, died in 1822 leaving GGGGram with 5 kids.  She then married Owen Elder and after a 6th child, became a widow again in1830.  The pension records were under her last husband, William Search’s name. Someday I plan on writing more about the hunt for Mary and her family.

DEAL # 3

Got an email from our friends at geneablogger about an Ancestry.com contest to win a 6 month US Discovery Ancestry membership.  I don’t know what happens if you win and you’re already an Ancestry member – I figure I’ll do a pay it forward and give it away or negotiate with them for a discount. If you’re interested first go to

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1440336180/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1440336180&linkCode=as2&tag=geneabloggers-20&linkId=A7V4AIHNDL6WSJ3D

and click on “Look inside” on the right hand side of your screen.  You want to go to the back of the book and write down the LAST PAGE NUMBER.  Then, enter the contest:
http://www.geneabloggers.com/giveaways/win-6month-ancestrycom-membership/?lucky=7964 
Simplest entry I’ve ever participated in but I did like Ancestry’s former October contests where you tried to use your research skills to discover the answers.  Never won but sure had fun!  Hint, Hint, Ancestry – do it again!

Next time, really, I’ll be writing about the reason I decided to go for the gold standard of genealogy – Certified Genealogist.

The Scoop on Salt Lake City’s Family History Library – Views of a First Time Researcher

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com 26 Apr 2015

Yours truly, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 2015
Yours truly, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 2015

If you haven’t been bitten by the genealogy bug you don’t understand why anyone would spend a week of their hard earned vacation time in a library far from home researching dead people.  My work colleagues gave me polite bemused smiles last month when I shared my exciting news – I was FINALLY going to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Definitely not a dream vacation for any of them but it’s always been my hope to one day research there.

Here’s what I learned from my adventure…

BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME:

  • Form a goal – mine was finding clues on how to climb over at least one of my top 10 walls in the four days I would be visiting.
  • Make a list of the people you want to search – what you know, how you know it, & what you want to know.  Then, narrow your list down as you aren’t going to have time to check out every one.  I used a small pocket notebook as a backup to my electronic tree.  I have my tree saved to a cloud (Dropbox and ancestry.com) so it’s available in case I needed to view saved original records. The notebook enabled me to write down call numbers, page numbers and thoughts and was a backup if the electricity went out.  (Ok, I realize that would be highly unlikely but being from Florida where we have the power go out frequently, I was going to find a window and keep working from my paper notes.)
  • If you haven’t already done so, join FamilySearch – like the library, it’s free. Then, use the online catalog  to identify resources you’ll be checking.  If you’re not sure how to use the catalog check out this Youtube video.  Make sure you remember to print and bring the list you’ve compiled! You’ll be using the catalog as you find new information at the library but this initial search is a great way to identify a starting point.  If you see “Vault” on an item request that it be pulled for you so it will be available on the day of your visit – you can do that from home.
  • View these YouTube videos so you are familiar with the library procedures:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_umqQmaGvM  and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sAr7NltMaY
  • You’ll quickly get acclimated to the floor collections: British Isles-Basement 2, International-Basement 1, Surnames and Canada books-1st floor, US/Canada microfilm-2nd Floor and US Books and Maps-3rd floor. Here’s a floor plan of the library: https://familysearch.org/locations/library_floor_plans
  • Go online to verify the library hours (Typically Monday 8AM-5PM, Tues-Fri. 8AM-9PM, Sat 9 AM-9PM). I saw a sign while there of an upcoming closure so do check ahead of time or you may be in for a disappointing surprise.
  • Google Earth your hotel and the library (35 North West Temple Street) so you know the route.  The blocks are much longer than in my area but it was a pleasant walk as passerbys were very friendly.

WHAT TO BRING:

  • Kindle Fire/IPad/Tablet if you have one.  Don’t go out and buy one if you don’t!  I used my Fire to take notes, sign on to the free wifi to check my tree, use Google translator and do quick searches of the catalog while in the stacks or at the microfilm area.  Saved time getting up and walking over to a computer.
  • Digital camera, scanner or your phone with a fully charged battery.  I took pics of the book pages and microfilm discoveries.  If none of those suggestion work for you, purchase a copy card.  I wanted to come home without killing a forest and be able to quickly import what I found to my tree page so the camera worked well for me.  I bought an extra sd card but didn’t need it. Make sure you bring the charger to recharge the battery overnight!
  • Office Supplies I found useful were a pen (there are pencils with no erasers and scrap paper everywhere), stickees to tag book pages that I wanted to photograph, and a highlighter to highlight the microfilm index pages I wrote down so I knew that I checked each page. (I so despise microfilm even though that’s where I seem to find my most amazing discoveries!)
  • A magnifying glass – seriously!  Some of the records are small and difficult to see.
  • A bag to carry your research goodies.  I used my airline carry-on purse but a backpack would also work.  My hotel was several blocks away and it rained so the bag and the rain poncho I brought kept my stuff safe and dry.

WHAT TO LEAVE HOME OR IN YOUR HOTEL ROOM:

  • Laptop – there are plenty of computers to use.  I brought mine the first day and it was heavy to lug around as you don’t want to leave it out unattended.  I used it in the hotel in the evening to upload my discoveries, record the source citation while they were still fresh in my mind, and plan for the following day’s research but I really didn’t need to bring it at all since I had the tablet.
  • A thumb drive – always have one on me but didn’t use it.

WHAT OTHERS RECOMMEND THAT I DIDN’T FIND USEFUL:

  • Change – I used the lockers on the first day only to store the laptop I didn’t need.
  • Orientation  Room– Since I viewed the YouTube videos I didn’t need to spend time there, though I did a quick walk through of the eye appealing displays in the room.
  • Snacks-I was so consumed by what I was doing I wasn’t hungry.  I brought a box of granola bars but never ate them. There is a vending machine area if you do get hungry.
  • Meals at the Blue Lemon in City Creek Center that everyone raves about because the line was long (there was a conference in town).  For a quick bite, eat at JBs, the old fashion restaurant on the corner – a nice salad bar, daily specials and a to die for chocolate chiffon pie to celebrate your finds! I figured I burned a 1000 calories using my brain to research so the calories didn’t count.  JBs online reviews weren’t so hot but due to inclement weather, I didn’t want to venture far.  Wish I had discovered them on day 1!  Also did Johnny Rocket and Jimmy Johns for lunch, Olive Garden, Squatters Pub, and Blue Iguana for dinner.  Used the hotel breakfast bar which had a nice selection of different items every morning.
city-creek-center
City Creek Center with real trout in the creek!

I’M HERE, NOW WHAT?

  •  First Day – I admit that I’m a research nerd and I got so excited when I walked in that I announced to the world that my dream had come true.  I guess that got me tagged as a Newbie which resulted in the staff asking me throughout the day how things were going.  Each morning staff welcomed me back and asked what I’d be working on that day.  By my last day I was hugging several volunteers and staff members good-bye as their genuine interest in my research bonded us.  I sent a few email thank you’s upon my return home as one genealogist’s neighbor was from my childhood hometown and I had pictures to share. Another volunteer was researching the same surname (Coke) from the same areas (Virginia and New York) and we hit it off.
  • On each floor is a podium with helpful volunteers.  I call them the Greeters.  On your first time on each floor they can give you useful tips for their resources.  For example, on the 3rd floor on the left wall is a notebook cheat sheet to quickly locate state-county-city books on the shelves.  I wouldn’t have found it if the Greeter hadn’t told me about it.  After you’re familiar with the floor I found myself going to the podium behind the podium – that’s where you ask for specific genealogical assistance.
  • Ask For Help – I liked to get there at opening because there are no crowds and you can quickly speak with a genealogist.  If there is a wait, they’ll give you a restaurant style pager.  I never waited longer than 5 minutes.  Getting a new pair of eyes on your quandaries can open up a new direction for you. Blue lanyards are research helpers, red lanyards are collection helpers.  Even if you forget which is which you’ll be directed to someone that can help you.
  • Pace Your Day – I varied my activities between looking at books, microfilms (which tires my eyes), following a new lead online after using their other resources, and talking with a genealogist. I tried to speak with a genealogist first because both of us are fresh first thing in the morning, there is no wait and the advice might have revised my plan for the day.  I looked at books next because they don’t circulate to my home library for review like microfilms do so I didn’t want to miss them.  On my last afternoon I browsed the surname books on the first floor.  I found 2 books on Leiningers I didn’t know about and was surprised they didn’t have the 2 that I have, nor any of the 3 Harbaugh books.  It’s important to remember they don’t have everything.  If you don’t find what you’re looking for it still may be out there somewhere so don’t give up!
  • Classes – I didn’t think I would have time to take a class so I didn’t look at the schedule from home.  Thank goodness that the daily classes are posted and an announcement is made about 30 minutes before the start of one.  I found I did have time so I took Scotts-Irish Research Ideas and French Resources.  Both were awesome, FREE and gave me additional direction to pursue.  I wish I could have squeezed in the German class, too.
  • Have Fun Outside of the Library, Too!  All research and no sightseeing makes for an exhausted and grumpy travel companion so do see the surrounding area.  There is a Visitor’s Center next to Salt Lake Palace Convention Center (with a nice small gift shop) a block away that can assist you.  My travel companion and I took the UTA light rail which is very inexpensive to the University of Utah to visit the “Dino” Museum and the botanical gardens next door.
Dino Family Tee at the Natural History Museum in Salt Lake
Dino Family Tee at the Natural History Museum in Salt Lake
magnolia-at-red-butte-gardens
Magnolia at Red Butte Gardens

A student we met on the light rail gave us a short walking tour of the University which was also nice.  There is a free campus van that will drive you from the light rail to the museum/gardens.  It’s about a 10 minute walk but it’s all uphill!

One night we did the Grimm Ghost Tour which was fun but a little creepy – I skipped out on visiting the serial killer’s basement.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir had a dress rehearsal on another evening which was wonderful.  (No pictures, no audio and they check your bags).

mormon-tabernacle-choir
The choir was in the building across from the Temple

We also rented a car to go to Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake.  This is where the bison and the antelope play.

great-salt-lake
Great Salt Lake
bison
Bison

WHAT I WISH THE LIBRARY BIGWIGS WOULD KNOW:

Your knowledgeable and dedicated employees and volunteers are beyond awesome!  I so appreciated their wonderful recommendations, encouragement and patience with my many questions.  I am thankful that I was able to visit your beautiful facility and plan on returning again and again!

 Only suggestion I have is to remind your Elders if you want the Millennial generation to become interested in genealogy, they need to be encouraging. On two separate days, my travel partner was questioned by Elders as to why I was asking all the questions.  She responded politely that she was new to genealogy and was in town for the conference.  The response of both was, “Hrmph.”  My advice, Elders, is listen to the Sisters. They always said, “Glad you’re here!”

WHAT I TOLD THE ‘KNOW AT ALLS’ WHEN I GOT HOME:

IMHO, there are 2 kinds of people in the world – the glass is half full and the glass is half empty.  Before I left home I had several people tell me I wouldn’t find anything. WRONG!  I found and learned so much that I only wish I had more time to spend and lived closer.  I am truly sorry for the folks that never found what they were looking for.  I know it’s frustrating but it is what it is. Just because you didn’t find anything doesn’t mean no one else should go.

I also had acquaintances tell me that I would be accosted by Mormons who were going to repeatedly attempt to evangelize me.  WRONG!  No one ever tried to persuade me to join the Mormon faith.  No one ever asked me what my faith is.  The ancestors I was researching had been Quaker, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Dutch Reformed, Puritan, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist.  No one cared that they weren’t Mormon.  No one tried to ‘baptize’ them.  Just because a Mormon woke you up too early on a Saturday morning does not mean it’s going to be a problem in the library.  It won’t be.  So go visit – you really must!

Next time I’m going to share my thoughts on how the library experience pushed me to pursue becoming a Certified Genealogist.

Euripides was right! Why you should leave no stone unturned.

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com 23 Apr 2015

stonesSometimes in genealogy we get so consumed with the names, places, and dates of our ancestors that we overlook the details that tell us much about their character.

The cemetery records transcribed by Josephine Frost from an earlier book by Henry Onderdonk broke through a 16 year genealogical brick wall and gave insight on the spiritual beliefs of the Wilson Williams Family:

“Williams,   Wilson Williams:  died March –?, 1831; aged 76 years.”

“Williams, Margaret.  Wife of Wilson Williams, died April 26, 1807               in her 64th year

F.W.  A common field stone marked “F.W.”

W.W. A common field stone marked “W.W.”1

The obvious information provided by these records are the name of the deceased, month and year of death, age at death and type of grave marker. For Margaret, her spouse’s name is also provided.  F.W. most likely is a mistranscription of Wilson’s father, Thomas Williams.

There is much more information provided that isn’t initially obvious, however. The first hint is the mention of a common field stone.  Onderdonk and DeHart (1884) tell us that the Dutch Reformed denomination custom “In early times farmers often interred their dead on their farms and put up at their graves a rough flat stone with the initial of the name, and year of decease rudely cut thereon.”2  From the record we know that Wilson and F.W. are following the Dutch Reformed tradition of burial.

But what about wife Margaret?  There is no mention of a common field stone marker for her.

To locate picture of the markers, death dates were inputted into Find-a-Grave. No record for F.W, W.W., Thomas or Wilson Williams was found.  The common field stone markers may be missing or may have been missed by the volunteers who photographed the cemetery.  There is a record for Margaret Williams; she is noted to be buried in Christ Church Cemetery, Manhasset, Nassau, New York3. :

margaret-williams-stoneWe know this is our Margaret because the death date, spouse’s name and her name match the church burial record of Frost’s transcription.

Margaret’s headstone reveals that she did not follow the field stone custom as did her husband.  Margaret also did not follow what Walter (1987) notes is “the traditional Dutch practice of the wife retaining her maiden name” on her marker.4

A more careful examination of Margaret’s tombstone will give a better insight of her belief system.

Margaret’s stone is worn so a transcription is needed.  Enlarging the picture uncovers:

In Memory of Margaret

Wife of Wilson Williams

deceased the 26th of April, D. 180_

In the 64th year of her age

Behold my friends, as you pass by

As you are now so once was I

As I am now you soon shall be

Prepare for death and follow me

By researching the poem more knowledge about Margaret becomes available. With some variation in the third line, the poem was commonly used in colonial times.5  Meyer (2006) noted that the poem was “Influenced by the ‘British pre-Romantic graveyard school’ of poetry” and the ‘Americanized Puritan mind-set’.”6 He cites George and Nelson (1985) who identify it as a “mori gravestone epitaph found throughout New England” between the 16th-17th century.7

Wilson and Margaret lived between 1754-1831.  Margaret was born, lived and died in Long Island, New York and there is no record that she ever ventured to nearby New England.  The use of a common New England epitaph tells us that:

  • Margaret or her spouse’s ancestors were originally from New England or
  • The area in which Margaret lived was influenced by New England

History tells us that Long Island was populated by former New England colonists and during the Revolutionary War, some Long Islanders fled back to New England for safety.  Thus, New England’s influence could result from either Margaret’s childhood or later, during her adult years.  Only further research of Margaret’s parents can determine when the origination of her spiritual influence occurred.

The poem, however, does provide us more insight into Margaret’s belief system at the end of her life.  It is considered to be memento mori, Latin for “remember, that you have to die,” a Medieval theory that the Puritan community espoused.8

We know from Frost (1941) that at the time of Margaret and Wilson’s burial, Christ Church Cemetery belonged to the Reformed Dutch Church.9 Today, the cemetery belongs to the Episcopalian Church. 10  Is there a relationship between these denominations?

Boettner (1932) notes that “it is estimated that of the 3,000,000 Americans at the time of the American Revolution, 900,000 were of Scotch or Scotch-Irish origin, 600,000 were Puritan English, and 400,000 were German or Dutch Reformed.  In addition to this the Episcopalian’s had a Calvinistic confession in their Thirty-nine Articles…”.11  The interrelationship is explained further by Monsma (1919) “The Pilgrims were perfectly at one with the Reformed (Calvinistic) churches in the Netherlands and elsewhere.  In his Apology, published in 1619, one year before the Pilgrims left Holland, Robinson wrote in a most solemn way, ‘We do profess before God and men that such is our accord, in case of religion, with the Dutch Reformed Churches, as that we are ready to subscribe to all and every article of faith in the same Church, as they are laid down in the Harmony of Confessions of Faith, published in that name.”12 Clearly, the Puritan English, Dutch Reformed and Episcopalians have a shared history.

“You never really understand a person

until you consider things from his point of view” –Harper Lee

What were Margaret’s spiritual beliefs?  Although we may never know for certain, based on the selection of the epitaph, Broker (2003)13 cites Stannard (1977), “the Puritan worldview included the following beliefs:

  1. The earth is positioned at the center of the Universe [a decidedly pre-Copernican belief].
  2. The world is infused with design and divine purpose.
  3. God is omniscient and omnipresent, and the course of every man’s life is predestined.
  4. God is inscrutable.
  5. Death is inevitable, and it is God’s punishment for the original sin of Adam.
  6. Children are born with and imbued with this original sin.
  7. Evil spirits and evil men occupy the earth. In fact, all suffer from “utter and unalterable depravity.”
  8. Death is a reward, at least for the chosen few.
  9. Upon death, the soul is released from its earth-bound world.
  10. The millennium is at hand, whether one takes it to mean the apocalyptic Day of Judgment or the thousand-year reign of Jesus prior to the Day of Judgment.
  11. The most glorious purpose to which a Puritan can espouse is to work to ‘bring God’s kingdom home.’
  12. Some will receive eternal salvation as a gift bestowed by God, but most face eternal damnation. Hell is a place of ‘unspeakable terrors.’
  13. It is impossible to know with confidence that you are among the saved. The best you can do is to examine your life constantly and maintain faith in your own goodness and God’s own justness”14

There is one piece of evidence that is atypical, however, for both Puritan and Reformed Dutch believers at the time the marker was made.  Margaret’s stone has NO artwork.  Shortly after the Revolutionary War, stone cutters from Great Britain arrived in the New York area.  The most typical motif for the Dutch Reformed in New Jersey was a tulip, shell, or fan; in Long Island, as in New England, urns and willows became dominant over the cherub or winged skeleton found on grave stones from the pre Revolutionary times.15

Why Margaret has no artistic design on her marker remains a mystery. Perhaps it was Wilson’s decision to keep the marker plain as was his own marker years later or maybe Margaret adhered to the earliest Puritan custom of no artwork. Without family records we can only surmise.

Analyzing death records and grave markers can provide the researcher with more than just vital statistics.  Careful study can unlock further clues about the family’s convictions.  Euripides was certainly right!

Your comments are most welcome.  Next time I’ll take a break from the scholarly and give you IMHO the ins and outs of visiting the Family


1Frost, Josephine C. Microform p. 41 & 47. Church Records from Reformed Dutch Church at Success, Long Island, Later Known as North Hempstead, and Now Known as Manhasset, 1731-1878 (1941): 17748 item 1.

2Onderdonk, Henry, and De Hart William Henry. History of the First Reformed Dutch Church of Jamaica, L.I. Jamaica: Consistory, 1884. 33-34. Web. 19 Apr 2015.

3Dyane. “Margaret Williams ( – 1807) – Find A Grave Photos.” Margaret Williams ( – 1807) – Find A Grave Photos. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

4Watters, David (Ed). “Markers : Association for Gravestone Studies : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive.” Internet Archive. University Press of America, 1987. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.

5Meyer, Richard E. “”Death Possesses a Good Deal of Real Estate”: References to Gravestones and Burial Grounds in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s American Notebooks and Selected Fictional Works.” ” by Meyer, Richard E. Studies in Literary Imagination, Vol. 39, No. 1, Spring 2006. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

6Palmer, Sara A. “Spinning Wheel Magazine.” Google Books. 417., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

7George, Diana Hume, and Malcolm A. Nelson. Epitaph and Icon: A Field Guide to the Old Burying Grounds of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. Orleans, Mass: Parnassus Imprints, 1983. Print.

8“Memento Mori.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Web 19 Apr. 2015, Translation from the Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, June 2001.

9Frost, Josephine C. Microform preface. Church Records from Reformed Dutch Church at Success, Long Island, Later Known as North Hempstead, and Now Known as Manhasset, 1731-1878 (1941): 17748 item 1.

10Dyane. “Christ Church Cemetery – Find A Grave Photos.” Christ Church Cemetery – Find A Grave Photos. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

11Boettner, Loraine. “28.” The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1932. N. pag. Web 19 Apr. 2015.

12Monsma, John Clover. What Calvinism Has Done for America. Chicago: Rand, McNally, 1919. 72-73. Print. Web 19 Apr. 2015.

13Broker, Stephen P. “03.02.01: Death and Dying in Puritan New England: A Study Based on Early Gravestones, Vital Records, and Other Primary Sources Relating to Cape Cod, Massachusetts.” 03.02.01: Death and Dying in Puritan New England: A Study Based on Early Gravestones, Vital Records, and Other Primary Sources Relating to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, 2015. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

14Stannard, David E. The Puritan Way of Death: A Study in Religion, Culture, and Social Change. New York: Oxford UP, 1977. Print.

15Watters, David (Ed). “Markers : Association for Gravestone Studies : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive.” Internet Archive. University Press of America, 1987. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.

Wilson William’s Wall

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com 19 Apr 2015

brick-wall

The term “brick wall” in genealogy means an impasse has been reached and further knowledge is unavailable.  Conferences are always filled to capacity when the topic of how to break through a wall is presented. Those blocks affect us physically, through wasted time and resources, and emotionally, as frustration and disappointment.  It’s no surprise we’re interested to find a way through that obstacle.

Remember, though, that there are two sides to every wall.  The frustration of needing to detour from my intended route may cloud my view of a solution.  What I can’t clearly see ahead is probably safe and sound, just not yet accessible.  Isn’t that the reason why walls were built in the first place – for protection?  Next time you encounter a brick wall ancestor have a Zen moment and know the missing information is most likely safe somewhere just waiting to be found.

When a family member invited me to be her travel partner on an upcoming business trip to Salt Lake City I was delighted.  The Family History Library has always been on my bucket list but with work and other commitments, a vacation there wasn’t visible on my horizon. With the hotel and plane reserved, I forged ahead with research goal setting and planning, my fourth rule of genealogy.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” –Alan Lakein

My goal was to find clues on how to climb over at least one my top 10 walls in the four days I would be visiting.

To accomplish my goal, I identified who I would be researching.  This was difficult as I have a large family tree which results in many walls.  I decided to select 5 from my family and 5 from my husband’s side.  I cheated a bit and included spouses so my actual 10 was more like 15.

Then, I followed my number 1 rule of genealogy – write down everything you know and what you want to know – for each of the selected individuals. I also added where I found the information to prove what I did know.  Why?  Through experience I’ve learned that family lore is just that – a word of mouth tradition that someone may have misheard, misunderstood or mythologized. Think the childhood game, telephone, where a sentence is whispered child to child with the last player repeating aloud what he/she heard.  The last oral sentence is not the same as the first oral sentence. Just like the game, there is some similarities in family lore from the time of the original telling but not necessarily the whole story.

In the late 1990’s I discovered the truth about family lore the hard way. Happily clicking away on an online tree I had discovered and saving the info to my own tree, I never stopped to look where the poster had found his sources.   I spent several days adding many individuals to my husband’s side only to learn late one evening that, according to the online tree, he was the great grandson many times removed of Odin and Frigg, the Norse god and goddess.  My spouse is an awesome husband, a devoted dad, a dedicated employee and a loyal friend but it’s a stretch to believe his Grandpa was the founder of the runic alphabet and his Grandma was a sorceress.  He, understandably, liked what I found.  I had to spend many hours deleting the line one individual at a time and have since checked sources before including new information in my tree.

 “Genealogy without sources is mythology.” -Unknown

Definitely a painful but valuable learning experience!

I have also found it useful to review my previously discovered sources before researching further on a line I haven’t looked at for a while.  There may be a hint in plain sight that I missed earlier or by reviewing the record, I may gain a new perspective.

So in preparation for my trip, I pondered my sources for my husband’s 4th great grandfather, Wilson Williams, born in 1754 in Roslyn Harbor, Nassau, New York.  He is found in the 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820 and 1830 Federal censuses as living in North Hempstead, Queens, New York and he has been documented in several texts for his service during the American Revolution, as a witness in two court cases, and for being appointed to maintain the highways as he operated a stagecoach and a ferry to bring visitors between Long Island and Manhattan.  An accomplished carpenter, two of his homes still stand and have been on the Roslyn Landmark Society’s home tours several times. What I could not discover was when he died and where he was buried.  Collaborating with four cousins I met online, a hired genealogist, two research trips to Long Island and Troy, New York where his son had moved in the 1820’s, calls to numerous churches where he may have been a parishioner, cemeteries where he might have been buried, library and historical society visits and hours spent searching online over 16 years uncovered nothing.

I placed Wilson as my 10th brick wall as I was fairly certain that the five of us had checked every possibility in determining his death and burial.

At the Family History Library, I shared my information on Wilson with a genealogist and asked for her suggestions on where to go next.  She recommended checking microfilms of birth, marriage and death records for any church denomination of which Wilson may have been a member.  I narrowed the search to Presbyterian, Quaker and Dutch Reformed as Wilson’s grandchildren were members of those churches and his wife, Margaret, was buried in the Dutch Reformed Church Cemetery.  Many of the microfilms did not have indexes and the process was exhausting.  After several hours I got a text from my family member who asked if I was ready to go to dinner.  “On the last microfilm, be done soon,” I responded.  “Meet you there,” she replied.  Minutes later she appeared on the scene and asked if she could help.  “I’m looking for a record for Wilson Williams.  I’ve been through this film already but found the index at the very end.  I’m just double checking that I didn’t miss him.”  “I’ll do that,” she volunteered as I collected the other films to refile.  In less than 30 seconds she asked, “Is this who you’re looking for?” I glanced at the screen.

wilson1

Stunned, I couldn’t respond.  I reread the words.  Tears of joy moistened my eyes.  If I had not found the index and double checked, the wall would have remained.  Ironically, the family member who found the record is a DAR because of Wilson.

The next day I found another microfilm source for the cemetery where Wilson’s wife is buried:

wilson2

So the “W.W” on the “common field stone” buried in the same plot as wife, Margaret Hicks Williams, was Wilson Williams and he had been where he should have been the whole time.  The answer was clearly right there but none of us had found it.  How had Wilson remained invisible for so long?

“Leave no stone unturned.” -Euripides

Most likely, the field stone with just initials was either missing entirely or not noted by the Find-a-Grave volunteers transcribing and photographing the cemetery because they would have no idea what W.W. stood for.

When I returned home and was adding the pictures and citation to my tree I noticed that the cemetery was in Success, New York.  Success?  I thought the cemetery was in Nassau.  The microfilm noted that North Hempstead became Success which became Manhasset.  Sometime after the book was published it became Nassau.

So why weren’t the records at the church?  The church secretary I had contacted told me the church does not have records of the burials.  Doing a google book search I found that Onderdonk’s (1884) History of the Dutch Reformed Church mentions that the early records were sketchy.  To complicate the situation, a minister had died and the congregation was not in agreement on hiring a replacement.  Half wanted to have a new pastor sent from the Netherlands while the other half wanted to hire a pastor from New York.  Consequently, the church ended up with 2 pastors.  After ten years, one pastor took half the congregation and started another church a few miles away.  He took the records with him.

The records I was viewing were a transcription from the 1940’s copied by a Josephine Frost.  She noted that her transcript was from a book by Onderdonk that was in disrepair.  Frost was unable to find the original church records that had been donated to the Long Island Historical Society but they were available when Onderdonk published his book.  There are only 12 copies of Frost’s book.  They are in Cincinnati, OH, Indianapolis, IN, Harrisburg, PA, Ann Arbor, MI, 2 in Chicago, IL, Ithaca, NY, Independence, MO, Edmond, OK, Albany, NY, Provo, UT, and La Jolla, CA.  The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has a microfilm of one of these books.

Wilson Williams spent his entire life in Long Island, New York yet the 13 records of his death do not reside where he lived and died.  Sometimes looking in the most logical place will not give you the answer.  I had to detour more than 1900 miles to get over the wall.

The microfilm record gave me far more information on Wilson then just his date of death.  Next time, I’ll tell you more about the meaning of Wilson’s fieldstone marker.

Springing Into Genealogy

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com 16 Apr 2015

spring-bird

Warm Days – Cool Nights

Flowers Blooming – Birds Aflight

I just love spring, don’t you? It’s a time of new growth, gentle rain and fresh scents.  After a recent trip to Salt Lake City I have become inspired to begin a new journey; one that will hone my research skills, showcase my discoveries and validate my dedication to a field to which I have long aspired.  You are welcome to follow me on my quest to become a Certified Genealogist.

Since all successful trips start with a kernel of an idea, first, a little background about my roots.  My maternal grandmother, Non, was a wealth of family lore.  Her powerful stories of her people’s lives in her native Croatia were inspiring, magical and guaranteed to tug at the listener’s heart.  These tales encouraged me to persevere against adversity and dream that one day, I, too, would lead an exciting life.

Although I had a vision of my Non’s side of the family, I had no knowledge of my dad’s lines.  Since my parents separated when I was five and my paternal grandmother died when I was seven, I had to rely on the limited information my mother gathered while married.  “Your dad is German, Scotch-Irish, English, and Welsh.” When I pressed further she would add, “Something about the Indians, I’m not sure.”

I wanted to know more. Who were his people? What kind of lives did they lead?  When did they arrive in the US?  Why did they settle in Indiana?  So began my odyssey to trace my heritage.

My questions arose in the prehistoric time before the internet. Back in the day, there were only two methods to obtain genealogical information – call an old family member or go to the library.  With method 1 not an option I sought out my local librarian’s help.  My hometown library was small and the local history section limited.  The librarian suggested I write down the names, dates and places that I knew and what I wanted to know, then visit the main county library. Her sound advice was the first and best tip I have ever received and something I still do today.

“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”  -James Baldwin

Unfortunately, the larger library was also lacking in materials so I put those questions aside for a time.

After our first child was born, my husband and I were given a family record book to note our new family’s special events.  One of the pages was a pedigree chart – and my lopsided tree gnawed at me.  My mother-in-law had given me my husband’s family history which went all the way back to April 1699.  Yes, 1699!  Imagine that!  His family stories were as exciting as those my Non had told me – a Pennsylvania family member who was an acquaintance of Ben Franklin, a Long Island sea captain who fathered 19 children, early pioneers traveling to Chicago via a Conestoga wagon and a great aunt who had belonged to the Mayflower Society.

Since I was determined to fill in my skewed tree but now lived 1200 miles away from my childhood home, I wrote to my dad for help.  He promised to give me his family tree book when he died.  What?  He has a family tree book?  I have to wait til he dies?  Huh?  This became my second lesson in genealogy – some folks just don’t want to share their knowledge – even if they are closely related to you.

“Knowledge is power.  Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family. “  – Kofi Annan

I practiced patience and was determined that someday I’d have the answers and when I did, I would share it with the world. My father passed away 12 years later.  I reached out to my step-mother who said she’d see if she could get the book to me.  Months passed and I tried again.  She was too busy, then the weather was bad.  I despaired that I would never find my family’s past.

One hot summer Sunday I was reading our local newspaper when a headline caught my eye.  The reporter had interviewed several historians who predicted that the rapid growth of the internet would result in genealogical records with a click of a button.  The article listed a few websites for further information. Hmm, could this be the right time to make my discoveries?

Dialing up (yes, we had to dial to get on in those early days!) I typed in the limited information I had and discovered – NOTHING.  I did find a web posting site and placed a note requesting further information on my surnames.  To my surprise, within a day I received an email from a distant cousin I had never met who had a copy of the family tree and the email address for the author of the book my dad had. In a week I had the electronic copy of the book from the author and a hard copy of my pages in the mail.  And so began my journey into the past. Genealogy lesson number 3…

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” -W.E. Hickson

In the years that followed I have used many resources in addition to the internet to make my discoveries.  Some information was found in moments, others took years to gain. No matter, each was a happy dance and a shout of joy.  Next time we’re together, I want to tell you about my latest and greatest find – his name is Wilson Williams.

Your comments are always valued and welcomed. Please post!