Thursday, January 31, 2013

Keeping Your Genealogy Documents Organized

There are lots of programs out there to help you keep your genealogical data in order. To keep my tree in order I maintain a family tree on Even if my membership to lapses from time to time they continue to maintain my tree as one of their sources; that way other researchers can see if they can connect to my research.

That is the tree though. How do you organize your documentation. If you are creating a tree full of data (names, dates of birth, dates of death, dates of marriages, various locations, etc.) you should be supporting that data with documentation; papers or electronic records. If you are not building a collection of such sources you are doing yourself and the genealogical community a great disservice. You must collect resources!

When you do collect sources, how do you maintain them?

I used to have this great system. Every document I obtained I made a copy of it for each family member named within it. I would then file it away in a folder for each individual. For example, I made 3 copies of my own birth certificate; I filed one in a folder for me, one for my father, and one for my mother. The system worked wonderfully. If you asked me about my dad, I would just bust out his folder and every document I had that mentioned him was right there. Great! Fabulous! 

The downfall of this system was the fact that it was so cumbersome. It would grow exponentially every year. It is one thing to have 3 copies of a birth certificate in 3 folders but consider, if you will, a will.

I have one will in my collection that is 14 pages long and names 28 relatives. In my old system that would result in 392 pages of paper. Think about census records; they name whole households which is not too weighty if you have 3 family members in a household but what about those families that consisted of 10, 11, 12, 13 children. Watch out photocopier!

So now I have another system in place; one that has significantly streamlined my collection. I developed an MS Access database in a graduate class I took. This database has changed my research life!

The database allows me to keep 1 copy of each document and link it to as many people as necessary. Each document is given a unique identification numbers and simply filed in the order in which I acquire them. Each individual is also given a unique identification number which allows me to pull up a list of all the documents a specific individual.

If you're a genealogy researcher I would love to hear how you keep your information and documentation in order.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Newspaper Articles Flesh-out the Life of Ambrose Weeks

In my opinion, the difference between calling oneself a genealogist or a family historian depends on what information you are gathering about your family. A family historian wants the stories. Filling in the names, dates, and location of life events on a chart is all well and good but if you don't invest some time in learning about the people and their stories what are you really doing this research for? What do all those names and dates and places mean to anyone if you don't glean a few good stories from your research?

Newspaper articles are some of the best resources to add some color to the family characters. If you have not spent some time searching historic newspapers for stories on your ancestors you are really missing out.

For some time now I have been fascinated with a man in my tree; Ambrose Weeks. What a great name, right? Ambrose.

Ambrose was the brother-in-law of my 4th great-grandmother, Lydia Smith-Losee. He was married to Lydia's sister, Elizabeth Smith-Weeks. It's a distant relationship but still one of great interest to me.

In the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Ambrose is listed as 41 year of age, married to Elizabeth, living in Brooklyn, and employed at a furniture store. In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Ambrose and Elizabeth are living in Port Washington, Long Island, New York working as an undertaker. 

Now some might think that is a considerable jump in occupation but back then it wasn't all that far fetched. Furniture makers were often cabinet makers and coffins are nothing more than big cabinets. Making coffins could lead one to working for an undertaker; and that could lead to learning the funeral business.

It seems to me Ambrose was climbing the social ladder pretty quickly. In ten years to go from working in a furniture store to filling such an important role in the community as undertaker is pretty impressive to me.

However, I found a mention of Ambrose Weeks in the New York Times on November 24, 1873 in a section of the paper called City and Suburban News. Under a portion headed Long-Island it reads:
"Ambrose Weeks, of Roslyn, a cabinet-maker, made a desperate and deliberate attempt to commit suicide on Saturday morning by cutting his throat with a razor."
My God, how sad. 

Note that Roslyn is a neighborhood very close to Port Washington on the North Shore of Nassau County, New York.

The report of his attempted suicide was also reported in Newtown Register, The Brooklyn Daily Union, and The New York Tribune. The worst of which was the one I found in the Newtown Register. It read as follows: 
Ambrose Weeks, a cabinet-maker, attempted self-destruction by cutting his throat with a razor, Saturday. He inflicted a deep wound, but lives to try again.
To try again?? Really, Register, really?
Ambrose survived, though Register, as is apparent by another article found in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from October 30, 1885 on page 6 which states that "Ambrose Weeks, of Hempstead, has sued August Belmont, Jr. to recover $35.33 for labor."

August Belmont, Jr. as in the man who built Belmont Park Racetrack here on Long Island; a very well-to-do gentleman of distinguished birth.
Photo of August Belmont, Jr. Taken 1904. From the Library of Congress.
One has to wonder if Ambrose ever got that money in light of the next article I found in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from May 4, 1900 on page 11, it reads as follows:
Died in the Almshouse
Ambrose Weeks, Once a Wealthy Merchant, a Pauper, Deserted by Friends

Hempstead, L.I., May 4 - - Ambrose Weeks, who was at one time one of the prominent merchants of this section of the Island and who is connected with some of the best Long Island families, died yesterday in the almshouse at Hempstead.

He was at one time quite wealthy and was engaged extensively in the furniture business in Hempstead. Misfortune and reverses overtook him in his old age, when his relatives and friends also deserted him, he was compelled to seek refuge in the Town Almshouse in Uniondale, where he has been for some years.

Mr. Weeks was over 80 years of age. His funeral service will be conducted by the Rev. Henry B. Bryan, canon of the Garden City Cathedral.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Garden City Cathedral, or more correctly the Cathedral of the Incarnation, here in Garden City, Long Island, it is indeed a quite spectacular Gothic-style, Episcopal Cathedral.
This photo was taken in about 1885. Image is owned by the Cornell University Library, NY.
The saddest of all the articles though I think is this one appearing in the June 30, 1898 edition of the Newtown Register; a year before Ambrose's death. The mention was extracted from an article that appeared in the Hempstead Sentinel  on June 23rd. It stated:
Ambrose Weeks was 79 years old last week. He has been spending the winter on the farm and Saturday he was in the village "renewing old acquaintance." Shortly after the death of his wife some five years ago, he purchased a tomb-stone and had it erected beside that of his wife's grave in Greenfield Cemetery. It is lettered requiring only a date of death to complete it.

Oh Ambrose, I imagine you a sad, heart-broken man but I don't really know that. These articles do not clearly speak to whether Ambrose's own actions brought on his circumstances; maybe he was a miserly, cruel man unworthy of friends and affection or perhaps he was simply suffering through depression and misfortune and deeply misunderstood by those around him. Regardless, he certainly suffered in his final years alone, destitute, and estranged from friends and family; poor Ambrose. His sad story awakens in me an awareness of the harsh reality of existence. I imagine that had I know him I would have tried to adore him.

If not for these various newspaper articles, Ambrose Weeks would have just been another name on the tree; the husband of a 5th great-aunt who never had any children; no heirs to pass on stories of his character or experiences.

If researching your own family tree, do not disregard the importance of newspapers. They can fill in much of your family's story; bringing these names and dates to life again. If researching in the New York area, I recommend searching the Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online and the Old Fulton New York Post Cards website  for starters.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

In Praise of the German Genealogy Group

On Sunday, January 27, I posted about my favorite family name; my great-great-great grandmother's name, Olivine Page-Ethier. In that post I mentioned how I have been unable to find her death certificate probably due to a misspelling of her name or an indexing issue. After writing that I thought, "Hell, why don't I just email the organization that put together that online New York City Death Records Database and see if they can help me." And so, that is exactly what I did.

By Monday at noon I had a response from a gentleman named Donald at the German Genealogy Group. He found an entry in the index that is most likely my Olivine:

Olevene Eltrier,  Age 70y,  Died 11-Dec-1906, Queens County, Certificate # 3434.

The German Genealogy Group and the Italian Genealogical Group have worked together to make very important New York City based indexes available online to all members of the genealogy community. One of the many databases they created is the New York City Death Records, 1891-1948 database which is available for free online. For anyone who has New York City residents in their family tree these databases are a godsend. They facilitate the ordering of records from the New York City Municipal Archives. Just the index alone is helpful in determining dates of death for your ancestors. However, whenever possible a genealogy researcher will want a copy of that document to examine the details and support their data.

The Death Record database was the one I was complaining about in my earlier post, though. To search it you need to have at least 2 letters of the person's last name. If the name is spelled wrong that can pose a challenge. However, the organizations have access to the full database and were obviously able to search the index in a different way to provide me with the information that I needed.

With the information Donald gave me, I can now order Olivine's death certificate online with enough information to make the process move quickly and more efficiently. I could have provided the Municipal Archives with what information I already knew but now I have a specific certificate number and an exact date of death.

I could also go to the New York City Municipal Archives and view the document on microfilm for free and make whatever notes I would like. While at the Municipal Archives if I choose to purchase a copy of the death certificate there is a fee for the copy; $11. If I order the document online it costs $17.50 with shipping and handling.

And it just so happens that I am going to have about two hours to kill in Manhattan before a class which is being given just a half mile from 31 Chambers Street where the Municipal Archives is located. Given that the two hours will be prior to when the Archives closes at 4:30...  YAY! I will see you then, Olivine!!

I can not thank Donald enough for responding to my email. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Murder-Suicide in the Family Makes the Front Page

On June 24, 1908 former President Grover Cleveland died. As expected a majority the newspapers were dedicated to stories of his life and presidency. Had Great-great Grandpa Victor Henry waited just one more day to murder his wife's cousin and take his own life we might never have had this story. 

The day before, on June 23, 1908, the article transcribed below appeared on the front page of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 

It is interesting to note that Mary Cassidy was born Mary Hinch and was the cousin of Victor Henry's wife, Annette Hinch-Henry. The previous year, Victor's mother Mary Henry was living at the same address at which this murder-suicide occurred. It was the home in which Victor's mother died. Based on those details, with some certainty, I can assume that the property was owned by some member of the family; who exactly, though, I am not sure.

The article below is pretty salacious. I have my doubts that Mary and Victor were having an affair. I suspect he suffered from some mental illness and somehow thought this woman was living rent-free in his mother's house; all speculation on my part though. 

I have one digital photo of Victor. It is a digital photo taken of the picture in a photo album. It was not taken straight on and thus there is some distortion in the image; seems appropriate though.


Ozone Park Man, With Wife and Family, Wanted Her to Elope


After Killing Her Victor Henry Sent Three Bullets Into Own Body and Soon Died

Victor Henry, an Ozone Park painter married and having a family, shot and killed Mrs. Mary Cassidy, who refused to elope with him a week ago, in the back yard of her home, 95 Water street, Woodhaven, at 10:05 o'clock this morning, and then, turning the revolver on himself, sent three bullets into his heart.

After running twenty yards, following the shooting, Mrs. Cassidy fell to the ground and died in ten minutes. Henry lived for half an hour, but was never conscious during that time and consequently the motive for his act could not be secured from him. Henry had a wife and three children, who live in a tenement just north of Broadway, on Wyckoff Avenue, in Ozone Park.

From the back stoop of her residence next door, Mrs. Joseph Herzog watched every detail of the tragedy from Henry's first arrival at the house to the time that Mrs. Cassidy breathed her last. At twenty minutes of ten she saw him come through the front gate and walk to the rear of t he house where, in the thick shade of a grape arbor, Mrs. Cassidy, who was forty-five years old and comely, was bending over a wash tub. 

They talked in a low tone at first, according to the story told by Mrs. Herzog immediately after the shooting. In a moment Mrs. Cassidy cried in angry tones: " I don't want you to come around here any more. You have a wife at home. I want you to stay away."

With that Mrs. Cassidy resumed her washing and Henry bent over to make a reply, which was not audible to Mrs. Herzog. Henry continued talking for over two minutes when Mrs. Cassidy again stopped her work and exclaimed: "What! My money?" Henry again made a short reply and then, with an oath pulled the revolver from his pocket, pressed it against the side of Mrs. Cassidy's head and fired. 

With a scream that could be heard for blocks, she jumped toward her murderer and then ran wildly from under the arbor to the back fence, where she dropped to the ground, moaning and with the blood spurting from the wounds in her head.

Henry never moved from the spot where he stood, but turned the gun on himself and dropped by the side of the half-filled wash tub after the three bullets from the .32 caliber revolver had entered his breast.

Arthur M. LaPage, who lives at 88 Water Street, was also a witness in the murder and suicide, and when he saw Mrs.Cassidy fall telephoned to the Richmond Hill police station for the ambulance. Then he summoned neighbors, who rushed to revive her with stimulants. She died while they were attempting to pour whisky down her throat. 

Forty-five minutes after the police had been notified by telephone, the ambulance from St. Mary's Hospital in Jamaica arrived, but Ambulance Surgeon Voltz, who came in it, found his services were not needed. With his permission, and the consent of the police authorities, the bodies were removed to the morgue of Edward J. Ruoff, Jr., in Ozone Park.

Mrs. Cassidy moved with her four children to the Water street house, from Newark, N. J., after the death of her husband on February 29. Henry appeared at the house for the first time in the second week of May, and was assiduous in his attentions to the widow. He was well known in Woodhaven, and his visits became a scandal in the village.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Favorite Family Name: Olivine

One of my favorite family names is Olivine. It was my 3rd great-grandmother's first name; Olivine Page-Ethier. Being French Canadian, her maiden name, Page, would have been pronounced p-AH-j. And you pronounce Ethier with "air" at the end. OH-li-veen   P-AH-j   E-th-eee-air. Sounds so very....French.

The first time I came across her name was on a plot record I purchased from Calvary Cemetery in New York City. At the time I ordered the record all that I knew was that my great grandfather, Albert Gardner (also known as Almond Desjardins) was interned in the plot.

The cemetery, as I recall, told me he was interned with three other individuals but I had to pay an exorbitant amount of money for the to tell me the names and dated of burial for those people. I don't remember the exact amount of the fee but I remember thinking, "WOW" and I had to literally save up the money to order the record. I think it was $100. Now in their defense, their records are not fully digitized their clerks have to search through indexes and microfilm to provide the information. It is time consuming especially given the fact they have over 3 million internments and it is one of the oldest cemeteries in New York City.

In any case, when I received the plot record, this is the information I received:

Section: 36          Range: 10          Plot: G          Grave(s): 16
Recorded in the name of: Thomas Desjardins
Deed #: ___          Date of Purchase: June 4, 1903

Deceased Name, Date of Burial, Age at Death, Birth Place
Alinna Ethier, Dec. 14, 1906, 70, Canada
Edward Desjardins, Jun. 4, 1903, 1, NY
Clement Monno, Oct. 11, 1911, 3 ms., NY
Albert Cardner, Feb. 15, 1946, 54, US

There are several "errors" in the information I received from Calvary Cemetery. For example, Albert's last name was Gardner not Cardner, to my knowledge Monno was spelled Mono, and Thomas Desjardins was really Damas Desjardins. But such resources are primary sources for the date of burial, not necessarily for the other facts.

I believe the Alinna Ethier listed here is really Olivine Ethier, the mother-in-law of Damas (or Thomas) Desjardins. At first I thought her name was Alinna, just like the document states but giving up the notion of correct spelling I came to discover several records for Olivine; the 1900 U.S. census has her living with son Edward in Manhattan, she appears in the 1881 and 1871 census of Canada, and I found her marriage and birth records in the Drouin Collection of vital and church records from Quebec.

However, I have not been able to find her death certificate. Since she was living in the City of New York in 1900. I assume she died in the City of New York in 1906. The online index to the New York City death certificates can not be browsed by date though. At present you must provide at least two of the first letters of the last name to conduct a search. Ethier must have been misspelled or improperly indexed. Oh, indexes.

In any case, this beautiful name, Olivine, did not trickle very far down the family tree. She did give the name to one of her daughters but that is where it seemed to stop. Perhaps it was just too French to survive in the grit of New York but it is oh-so pretty.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Slave-owners in my Tree

Recently Cousin Lisa asked me if we had any slave owners in our family. Having such deep New York roots one might think that, no, we couldn't have possibly owned slaved; New York is a northern state. You might be surprised though to learn that New York did indeed uphold the institution of slavery until 1827. In 1799 New York State passed an act that gradually emancipated slaves but all slavery was not abolished in the state until 1827.

On the side of the family that Cousin Lisa and I share I have not found slave owners. However, that is the side where I just found my American Revolutionary patriots so I would not be surprised if I find some slave owners on that side too. In the 1700s slavery was ubiquitous.

In any case, several years ago a researching cousin shared with me a transcription of the will of my 7th great grandfather, Uriah Bedell (1733-1815). I was very young at the time; only a few years into my research. Maybe I was 18 at the time; I am not sure. I am sure I was devastated though. There among the shares of land and endowment to the Presbyterian Church of Hempstead, Long Island were his "negro-boy" Tone and "slave-girl" Freelove. I was DEVASTATED! 

The only solace I could take was that he clearly states that when each of these people reach the age of 23 it was Uriah's will that they would be set free. Additionally, it was not my ancestor who inherited a slave; although that provided little comfort. I am descended from his daughter Phebe Smith who is named in the will though.

I can not wrap my modern-day, liberal mind around the fact that anyone ever thought owning people was an okay thing to do. I don't care if it was a desirable show of wealth or a acceptable necessity of the time, how could anyone have thought that slavery was OK - - ever? I don't get it. Especially this man so pious in his behavior that he leaves a huge sum of money to the church at which he was a deacon. It just befuddles me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Smith Cousins on Fire Island in 1857

I like to go off on genealogical tangents which means I like to explore the lives of indirect relatives. Cousins are the best gifts ever! I mean, think about it, if there are several kids in a family maybe you are not directly descended from the one who inherited the family history. Maybe some distant far off cousin out there got the good stuff; the info, the heirlooms. Thus I like to poke around the tree.

This past summer I came across the administration papers of Rebecca Raynor's estate. Rebecca Raynor was my 6th great-grandmother. She was born in June of 1769 and died February 14, 1855 in the city of Hempstead, New York.

She was married to Jacob Raynor; my genealogical nemesis. I have been searching for some sort of real records on that man for years; he is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Jacob and Rebecca had to have been cousins, though, of some degree as she too was born a Raynor.

In any case, upon reading through the administration it names her two surviving children and all of her grandchildren. What caught my attention was the granddaughter, Hannah Smith wife of Benjamin Smith of Fire Island Beach.

Fire Island Beach? Who would have lived on Fire Island in the 1850's. Fire Island is part of the barrier islands along the South Shore of Long Island, New York. Nowadays it is a pretty hip, happening place; most noted for the large homosexual community that takes up residence there in the summers.

Why was this cousin living there in the 1850s? Well a little poking into the census and I found that Hannah Smith's husband, Benjamin Smith, was actually the Fire Island lighthouse keeper. In fact, he was the first keeper; appointed there in 1853.

I wonder what life was like for the lighthouse keeper and his family back then. I know some of the older boys were listed as lighthouse keepers assistants back in the 1860 census. From that census I know Hannah and Benjamin Smith had at least 8 children: Willet Smith (born circa 1835), Samuel Smith (b.c. 1839), George Smith (b.c. 1843), Phebe Smith (b.c. 1845), Miles Smith (b.c. 1849), Bedell Smith (b.c. 1852), Franklin Smith (b.c. 1853), and Josephine Smith (b.c. 1855).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Hunt for Health Food Started Goat Society

This newspaper clipping was in one of my Nanny's big boxes of loose photos. It is about her parents and their founding of a Goat Society in East Hempstead, which is now known as Uniondale, Long Island, New York.

The article below is about my Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Henry and their dedication to feeding their family healthy food long before the hippies came along. In addition to the Goat Society they formed of local farmers raising goats, they also formed a Rabbit Club.

The photo is of my grandmother, left, and her sister Regina Henry-Drew, right, holding on to the new kids in the herd of goats their family kept.

My grandmother and all of her siblings really have very strong bones. My grandmother recently had a fall though, and fractured her hip. She is up and about though sprinting past other 80-somethings with her walker. She took a very hard fall; she slipped on wet grass and fell onto the concrete in front of her house. Because her bones are so strong they opted to do the surgery for her fracture when in most cases they put the person on bed rest to recover from a fracture. Nanny credits her strong bones to having been raised on goats milk.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sofia's Christening Gift

Today my beautiful little niece, Sofia, is being Christened. For her gift I made her a family tree.

It is not a traditional family tree in the genealogical sense; it's not just a paper chart. It is a shadow box displaying a tree made out of tiny green paper leaves and brown silk covered wires. It is a fan chart really and each leaf includes the name and dates of birth and death for all of her direct ancestors from her to her 3rd great grandparents.

It is not a very clear photo but below is a detail.

I hope that she will someday take an interest in her genealogy. Part of why I gained an interest in genealogy though, was because no one in my family had really handed me down any historical documents. My father's Cousin Ro had a known interest in genealogy and started her research in the 1970s. She told me things and shared her information with me when I asked. I have connected with many cousins who have shared their finds with me but when I started out I was pretty much starting from scratch. And really, I most enjoy the research and discovery aspect of family history. I've already done a lot of Sofie's research though.

I hope that, if nothing else, through this gift Sofie comes to understand that her existence is due to the existence of a lot of people who have come before her. She is the culmination of the hopes, dreams, struggles, and love of a lot of other people and that the only responsibility she has to them is to be herself.

To quote a snippet from one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite lyricist, Forever Young by Bob Dylan:

"...May you always know the truth
And see the LIGHT surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young..."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Objet d'life: Great-Grandpa Henry's Driver's License

As some of you may know, I love to drive. Driving gives me a solitude, freedom, rhapsody, direction if you will. It clears my head, fills my soul, makes me sound.

Several years ago my father's cousin, Cousin Timmy, sent me a digital image of what has come to be my favorite family history document; my great grandfather, Charles Henry's driver's license from 1919; well it expired in 1919.

Now, I do not own this object; as I said I just have a digital image of it but nonetheless I love it. I love it for many, many reasons.

I love it because:
1. Look at that picture. Look how young (22 years-old) and handsome this man was.
2. Dude, it's from 1918!!
3. Note his occupation; chauffeur. It is a chauffeur's license. 

It makes me happy to think great-grandpa might have understood my love of driving as the rest of my family thinks me a little strange for enjoying long drives to far off destinations. I think nothing of a 4 hour drive and I have done as much as 22 hours before calling it a day.

Cousin Timmy found this license beneath the floorboards in the home Great Grandpa Henry built. It was the home my grandmother grew up in; the home Cousin Timmy grew up in. When Timmy's parents were finally selling the home and moving into a retirement community, Cousin Timmy searched the house from top to bottom for any scrap of family history he could find and this, this was one of the treasures.

Now this is not a typical document to find in a family history collection. A typical family history document would include information about more than one person. After all, genealogy is about documenting lineage; the connection between people. This object is just about Charles. Although, it does provide useful family research information; the address at which he lived in 1918 could definitely help in finding him in the 1920 census. 

I just really love the physical description part though. Great-grandpa was short, just like my grandma, and my father, and me. And again, I love that very handsome photograph.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Scandal, Scandal: Finding Out a Wedding Date.

This past Monday I received a copy of my maternal grandparents' marriage license which I had ordered from the The Office of the City Clerk of the City of New York. This office maintains the records of all Marriage Licenses issued in New York City from 1930 to the present. Marriage Records older than 50 years from today's date are considered historic records and available to the general public by mail or by visiting the Record Room Division at 141 Worth Street, New York, NY 10013 for a fee of $15 for the first copy. 

No one in the family really knew my maternal grandparents' anniversary which wasn't startling really. My maternal grandmother died at the age of 41 in 1972 leaving 6 children between the ages of 20 and 2. Being so young it made sense to me that her kids did not remember their parents' anniversary.

Some time back though, I received a photocopy of a newspaper clipping from my aunt. The clipping was an engagement announcement that showed a photo of my grandmother; age 19 at the time. It was really the only photo I had ever seen of my grandma.

Recently, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) genealogist I have been working with gave me a copy of the same announcement. She was able to tell me when and which newspaper it appeared in; January 22, 1951 in the Long Island Star. The DAR genealogist also found an earlier announcement from January 5, 1951 in the Long Island Star.

Based on this I assume that my grandparents probably got engaged at Christmas or New Years. However, I still didn't know when they were married. I assumed it had to be in at some church in Queens. For my application to the DAR I need to know this information and so I ordered their marriage record from the Office of the City Clerk.

Well, they were married in Greenwood Lake, NY, a resort community about an hour and a half northwest of Elmhurst, Queens, NY on March 25, 1951.

The end of March? Wait! My mother was born in late November.

Some quick math and I realized that my grandmother was pregnant at the time that they were married.

Scandal, scandal.

Mom was born only 34 weeks after the marriage and to my knowledge she was not pre-mature. Grandma would have been 6 weeks pregnant when they married. She probably knew she was pregnant; although, maybe not. Have you ever seen these stories where the woman goes into labor and she didn't even know she was pregnant?? 

I mean, it's not scandalous now. In fact, it is very common but I can imagine that back in 1951 it would have horrified grandma's good Catholic family. It doesn't matter to me though. There is no doubt in my mind that they were very, very much in love then and until the end. So what does it matter??

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Family Resemblence: I look like Nanny

My niece Sofie was born this past October. 

Me at age 38; Sofia 1 week old.

Immediately the family sought to see a family resemblance; who did she look like? We were all a little shocked that she was not a blond like most of the children in my family start out as; Sofie was born with a full head of black hair. Cute as could be but quite unexpected. I was absolutely a towhead; someone with nearly white blond hair. 

Me at about age 3; circa 1977.
For the most part I think Sofia looks like her dad; who in turn really looks like his father. Although, Sofie has eyes like those of my family; specifically eyes like my father's. For such a pretty little girl, Sofie looks like her grandpas.

I look like my dad too. When I share these photos with most people they are a little taken-a-back. Think I might look like my dad?

Left: me about age 8 (circa 1982), Right: my father about age 8 (circa 1957).
And now watch this... Think dad might look like his mom??:

My paternal grandmother, Clare. Kindergarten photo about age 6 (circa 1935).
My father's family often discusses which grandchild looks most like Nanny. They can debate all they want; I don't even bother to get involved in the chat anymore. I mean, seriously, I look most like Nanny.

Here is a photo of my grandmother taken in about 1964 at approximately the 35 years of age. And beside it is a photo of me taken at the age of 34. Debate all you want...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Middle Names

The other morning I work to find a message from my cousin on my facebook page. Cousin Lisa asked me, " ...what is the purpose of a middle name? Did people always have them (i know some people don't)? However, in your genealogy research, have you noticed if most people way back when had them?"

It is a good question. And truthfully, I don't know much about the tradition of giving a middle name. I told Lisa that I think it was often done to distinguish father and son. In my family tree I have a John who's son was John Melvin who's son was John Thomas. Kind of like how they put numbers after names; I also have a cousin John the VII - the number distinguishes him from his dad the VI and his grandpa the V. But if you think back there are many people who had middle names, or a second name, like, hmm: Johann Sebastian Bach. And then in some Latin cultures people have a string of names, usually honoring parents and grandparents - - Maria Conchita Juanita Rosana Perez Rodriquez... It's a great question! 

What is all this middle name stuff about?

Naming traditions vary from culture to culture. My focus here will be on the use of middle names in the United States.

In an online article by genealogist Rhoda McClure entitled "A Look at Middle Names" in which McClure states that it was the Germans immigrants who brought the tradition of middle naming to the United states in the the 17th century. Germans gave their children two names at baptism; a spiritual name and a secular name. The spiritual name was typically a favorite saint's name and the secular name which was the middle name would typically be the name the child would be called or the "call name" that they would be known by and would be used legally. McClure goes onto state that it would not be until the 1840s that this really became a popular practice in the United States. By World War i it was assumed that everyone in the United States had a middle name.

Personally I think that when naming a child it is about honoring some family member while still creating a unique identity. The use of a middle name makes that easier. My middle name for example is the same as my mother's and was the name my maternal grandmother went by; Lynne. But my first name is unlike anyone else among my immediate or extended family. 

And as I told my Cousin Lisa, having a middle name also helps a kid to know she is in trouble, APRIL LYNNE!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Colonel Daniel Moore and the DAR Genealogical Research System (GRS)

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library in Washington D.C. to research my patriot, Col. Daniel Moore of Londonderry, New Hampshire.

I found my patriots (yes, two of them) in an unexpected place on my family tree. My maternal grandfather, Clarence Albert Gardner was born and raised in New York. Both of his parents were of Canadian descent. His father, Albert Gardner was born Almond Desjardins in the Long Island City/Astoria area of Queens County, in the City of New York in 1891. Albert's parents, Damas Desjardins and Malvina Ethier-Desjardins were both born and raised in Montreal but met and married here in the City of New York. My grandpa Clarence's mother, Mayme Sharp-Gardner, was born in Sherebrooke, Quebec, Canada and immigrated to the U.S. around WWI. She arrived in New York by way of Lowell, Massachusetts. When I think about my Grandpa Gardner's lineage I think French Canadian, not American Revolutionary War patriot.

My paternal grandfather, Edwin Earle's lineage can be traced back to early American settlers. I thought for sure this is where my patriot would be, right? Wrong. Grandpa Earle's ancestors lived on Long Island, New York which during the American Revolution was a loyalist stronghold which means they were probably shooting at the patriots. Makes sense if you consider how my mother and father got along but I digress...

No, it was Grandpa Gardner's line where I found my patriot. The line goes like this:

Grandpa:                              Clarence Albert Gardner
Great-grandma:                    Mary Elizabeth "Mayme" Sharp-Gardner
Great-great grandpa :          Daniel Sharp
3rd great grandma:              Ann Moore-Sharp
4th great grandparents:       Eleanor Moore and William Moore
5th great grandpas:             Patriot Colonel Daniel Moore and Patriot Lt. Colonel Robert Moore

When you trace your family tree you have to move backwards in time from you to your parents, your parents to your grandparents, etc. But for clarity here I will first tell you about Daniel  and Robert Moore and move forward. 

Daniel and his brother Robert were from Londonderry, NH which is now Derry, NH. The sons of John and Janet Moor. Daniel was at the surrender of Saratoga, NY; a pretty monumental British defeat. His brother, Robert Moore, also served in the Revolution. His line is less well-documented though. To explain some of the search process on the DAR website I will focus on Daniel.

Daniel had a daughter, Eleanor who married Robert's son, William Moore in about 1784. Yes, they were first cousins which was a common, socially-acceptable practice back then; to marry a cousin. Nowadays we cringe at the thought but back then it was common.

Eleanor and William moved from New Hampshire to an area of Quebec known as Kingsey. In fact, they were the second settlers to move to the area now known as St. Felix-de-Kingsey not far from Drummondville, Quebec.

Most Americans tend to think that people who emigrate to Canada do so because they have anti-American feelings. This is not always true but yes, it is the case. For example, during the Vietnam era some Americans headed to our neighbors in the north to avoid being drafted. Canada, though, is a beautiful country and many people move there for many reasons. Eleanor and William went there for land. 

It wasn't until 3 generations later, when my great grandmother moved to Lowell, Massachusetts, and that this line returned to the United States.

Now let's get down to brass tacks here. How does one use the DAR Genealogical Research System (GRS) online. Well, first go to the website:  or DAR Genealogical Research System (GRS).
I'll tell you just the tiniest bit of how to get started on the DAR website. The second tab you will see is "Ancestor." Click on that and you will be presented with several search boxes. When constructing a search sometimes less is more; or in my case "Moor." 

The Moore family name sometimes appears as Moore, More, or Moor. Like marrying your first cousin, spelling didn't really count back then; nowadays we're all caught up on spelling. I get ticked when someone leaves the "e" off the end of my last name; Earle. In genealogy research though you have to let go of your modern day connection to spelling. In any case...

I did a search of the DAR Ancestor page for Last Name: Moor, First Name: Daniel, State: NH. This search returned the records of two Daniel Moores who are often mixed up in records. I am of the first Daniel Moore; the one born in Londonderry, NH on February 11, 1730 and who died April 13, 1811 in Bedford, New Hampshire.

In the search results there is a button called "See Ancestor Record." By clicking on that, one can view a list of accepted applicants listed by their national application number. Daniel has a list of 47 national numbers; that means 47 women have joined the DAR based on linking their ancestry to Col. Daniel Moore. Those are my cousins; none of which I know and none of which are descended from the same grandchild of Daniel as I am. I am descended from Ann Moore. Some of the member are descended from Eleanor and William like I am. Of those, some are descended from Ann's sister Elizabeth and some are descended from Ann's brother Daniel but none are from my Ann.

I will face the challenge of finding documentation that links Ann to her parents Eleanor and William Moore but I will not have to rigorously prove Eleanor to be the daughter of Daniel because the DAR has already accepted this fact.

Now if you want to see what documentation the DAR has accepted on a given patriot and his descendants you're going to have to either order the records or make a visit to the DAR Library in Washington D.C. I recommend the visit if you can because there, for a $6/day visiting researcher fee, you can view everything they have and print it all out for $0.25/ page. If you order it online it cost $15/ application and some packets contain more information than others. There is no guarantee that your $15 will provide you with any supportive documentation. $15 is one think if there was one accepted applicant for your patriot; it is another huge investment if you have 47 accepted applicants and you want to see everything. And what researcher doesn't want to see everything?

I say make the trip!

If you have any questions about using the site the "Home" tab provides much more detail than I have given you here about the variety of tabs and resources available to you. 

Happy hunting!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dead People and Road Trips

When life gets me down and I need distraction I turn to my dead people. I mean, after all, their drama is over with, right?

Yeah, dead people and road trips.

My dead people sort of ground me. Road trips refresh me. Road trips give me the opportunity to get away and get some perspective.

In my first course of study I studied art, specifically painting. I had a painting teacher that told me that when you paint you must never stand with your feet together, you must always have one foot in front of the other. This helps you to moved towards and away from your canvas. If you stay static you will get caught up in the detail you are painting and never see the whole picture. You must move away to see the whole piece. Sound advice for life really. And so road trips give me  the opportunity to gain some perspective and see some peace.

This year has not started off well for me. A series of events related to significant relationships in my day to day life rose to a crescendo during the first week of this year. It sucks. I was trying to pour myself into my genealogy research to distract myself from it all but I needed out. Come the 6th I approached Cousin Mary of Threading Needles in a Haystack fame about a research road trip to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library in Washington, D.C. But that chickie is 6 months pregnant and can't sprint off on impromptu road trips. And so a call went out to Cousin Kelly; a daring young cousin who no longer suffers from a crappy job.

I thought we'd come up with a date to head down to D.C. You know, something soon. I was hoping in a week or two we could make a day trip when Kelly said to me, "I can be to your house in two hours." And we were off!

I spent the following day at the DAR Library in Washington, D.C. Kelly spent her day at the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of Natural History.

The DAR Library is a wonderful resource and their online library is very, very useful to those researching their patriot.

The DAR's online library has a collection of databases that provide access to the materials amassed by the DAR since its founding in 1890. When one applies to become a member they must provide documentation of their lineage through birth, marriage, and death certificates as well as other resources. These records then become part of the DAR's collection. They do not permit access to records of those still living but they do share what documentation they can with prospective members. In order to see this documentation, you can order a “record copy” of a membership application from them online for $15 OR you can visit their library in D.C. There is a visiting researchers fee of $6/day to use the library; members can research for free.

I highly recommend checking out the DAR Genealogical Research System (GRS) if you know or suspect one of your ancestors may have been a patriot in the American Revolution. 

In my next post I will explain how to use some of their website.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Liebster Award, AWWWW

Thanks to Mary at  Threading Needles in a Haystack for nominating me for the Liebster Award! Mary, more often referred to as Cousin Mary, has one of the few blogs I faithfully follow and, yes, she is my cousin - my 6th cousin once removed; we met through our genealogy research. 

I myself have only been at this blogging bit for a few months but Mary is always so supportive of my writing and my research.  Presently, she is my only follower... Thanks, Mary.

Liebster is a German word that means friend, dearest, adored, beloved, chosen one. The Liebster Award is given to bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers, to encourage them to keep at it and to help spread the word about interesting blogs to a new audience.

Now as per Mary's instructions I must do the following:

  • Thank the one who nominated you by linking back.
  • List 11 random facts about yourself/your blog (if you want - it was much harder than I thought it would be to come up with 11!)
  • Nominate five blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
  • Let the nominees know by leaving a comment on their sites.
  • Add the award image to your site (optional). 
Now for the 11 random facts about me/my blog:
1. I can name all 32 of my 3rd great-grandparents.

2. I have been to all 50 states. I like to boast about this one a bit because it was all fabulous!
3. I am the oldest child of oldest children but all my grandparents were the youngest child among their siblings - well, no, my paternal grandmother, a.k.a. Nanny, was the youngest girl she is actually #5 of six kids.

4. My blog started as a Family History Month project in October 2012 but I'm really at it to catch some researching cousins.
5. I a penchant for glittery shoes and sparkly nail polish. Woo hoo!
6. I am currently working on my application to become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). I found my patriots, yes two of them, on a very surprising line; a line I consider my Canadian line - - go figure!
7. I like to instigate genealogy research. I drag many a cousin to libraries, archives, and cemeteries. And I have more than a few friends and colleagues now hooked on researching their family trees.
8. My family regularly debates about which grandchild looks most like Nanny. Um, open your eyes people! I look most like Nanny!!!
9. This past year, 2012, I became an aunt for the first time. So you can all stop asking me who I am leaving my research to.
10. If I could be any color crayon, I'd be green because it that color makes me feel calm and its one of the basic eight colors in a box of Crayola crayons - - I'd like to be one of the basic eight.
11. I do not identify myself with any ethnic background. I am not a hyphen American (ex. Irish-American, German-American, etc.). I am American. Reading through my family's history is like reading out of an American history textbook; each branch arrived at a different point in time with the wave of their ethnic group, they've participated in every American war, and their occupations are typical of their time, region, and upbringing. I used to think it "ho-hum", but really, I kind of love "ho-hum." 

At present I can not nominate anyone for this award because I don't follow any blogs that have less than 200 followers. How sad is that? But I commit to nominate the next 5 fabulous eligible blogs I come across.

When you get a chance, definitely check out Cousin Mary's blog; Threading Needles in a Haystack . She shares lots of great research tips, she is an excellent writer, and um, she's my cousin! Thanks, Mary!