Friday, August 22, 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?: Kelsey Grammer

This week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featured actor Kelsey Grammer who strangely reminds me of my step-father. They look a lot alike but my step-father was such a terrible human being, Kelsey seems like such a warm kind any case...

Kelsey's parents divorced when he was very young and his grandmother, Evangeline, became a strong presence in his upbringing. Evangeline, like Kelsey, was not raised by her parents either. That is where Kelsey's research began; trying to answer the question why didn't Evangeline's parents raise her. As it turns out, Evangeline's father abandoned her mother resulting in her mother filing for divorce in the early 1900s.

It turned out that both of Evangeline's parents were likely alcoholics. I say likely because the mother's death from cirrhosis of the liver is not necessarily caused by alcoholism; likely but not definitely. 

Upon discovery of the circumstances surrounding Evangeline's upbringing, Kelsey opened up a bit about his own struggles with addiction. The episode went on to highlight the search from Kelsey's grandmother’s parents in California back to pioneers who traveled the Oregon Train in the 1850s which some viewers may have found most interesting but I myself loved watching Kelsey see the parallels between his own life and the lives of his ancestors. That is what I love about genealogy research for myself and for those I help with their own family history research.

Another statement Kelsey made that I just loved reflected the addictive quality of genealogy research; the gist of which was - - some blanks get filled in and new blanks open up. And so one digs further.

Next week's season finale on Wednesday, August 27 will feature actress Minnie Driver.

Monday, August 18, 2014

DNA Snags Another Cousin & a Half Step.

If you follow this blog you know that I have had my DNA tested through I have also had my father and sister do the test. Recently I even had a second/fourth cousin take the test too. Ya know, I actually have a lot of family lines that have intermarried giving me a fair share of double cousins; mostly 2 siblings from one family marrying 2 siblings from another family. Anyway...

From time to time I look at the results of my test, my father's and my sister's too, to see what new matches have come along. As more and more people do the test, the more and more matches everyone receives. Recently I looked to see if my father had any new matches and sure enough there was a man who's results indicated that he and my father are third cousins which means they have great-great grandparents in common. That isn't that far back at all. So through I sent an email to my father's match.

This man has one of those very "old Long Island" last name so I asked him if he had roots in Freeport where my father's "old Long Island" family was from. This man's reply startled me. He said no but that his grandmother was a Hinch. A Hinch? Wait, my great-great grandmother was a Hinch! Annette "Annie" Hinch? "No," he replied, "Sarah Hinch."

Sarah Hinch and Annie Hinch were sisters. Therefor, this man has the same great-great grandparents as my father, just like the test indicated! Our common ancestors are Annie & Sarah's parents; James Hinch (1816-1886) and Jane Kavanaugh-Hinch (dates unknown).

These two sister's lines are even more entangled, though, through marriage.

Annie Hinch was the wife of Victor Henry. Annie and Victor had three children the oldest of which was my great grandfather, Charles A. Henry (1896-1949). When Great-Grandpa Charles Henry died in 1949 he left his wife, Anna Henry a widow at barely 50 years old. Eventually, Anna remarried to her husband's cousin, Frank Stoothoff; a child of Sarah Hinch's from her first marriage. This "new" cousin I found through AncestryDNA is descended from an offspring of Sarah's second marriage.

Confusing, I know, but given that you're already lost I have no reservations in saying that this "new" DNA cousin's grandfather was the half-brother of my grandmother's step-brother; so he is my grandma's step-half-brother's grandson by marriage. He is also, just like the DNA test results stated, my father's third cousin by blood.

Can you tell I am very impressed with this DNA testing stuff??

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Revisiting Edward Hughes

Last October I published a post on my discovery of the murder of my 3rd great grandmother's brother, Edward Hughes.

The story of his death seems so incomplete to me. I don't know why he got into the bar fight. Was he mouthy when he drank? Did he call someone an ethnic slur? Was it over an argument about politics? Was it over a women? The cause of the fight was not made clear in any of the articles I found.

And then I wonder what became of the man who beat up Edward, a beating which the coroner stated only accelerated the cause of death (alcoholism). What happened to the man acquitted of the crime; James W. Cain.

James Cain is more common a name than you would think. I am not able to pin down what happened to that man using searches or NYC vital records.

But wanting to know more, I ordered microfilm through for me to view at the Family History Library (FHL) nearest me. Fifteen dollars, $7.50 each for two reels of microfilm of Coroners Inquests from New York City, to find out the FHL near me doesn't have a functioning microfilm reader that prints. OY VEY! I'm not really complain about the cost of the film; that's not bad. The lack of a functioning printer on the other hand - - grrrrr.

I needed to make a second trip to the FHL with my camera to photograph the images I found on the microfilm. Yeah, so what I don't own a smart phone. Wanna make something of it? Hmm, maybe my short fuse is genetic but how will I ever know if I share that with Edward because the Coroner's inquest said nothing more than what the thin newspaper articles revealed.

32 years-old, died of the effects of alcoholism accelerated by a beating inflicted by James W. Cain. Period.

Let me tell you, the doctor's handwriting then was just as shitty as any doctor today.

I'm really sad about Edward's death. All the other Inquests on the film were 20 to 30 pages long. His was just 6 pages; the cover page, the plea of not guilty by James Cain, 3 eyewitness testimonies which said nothing as to what instigated the fight, and the doctor's description. I feel like they saw a drunk and didn't really care about justice for him. So sad. I hope James Cain made something decent of his life.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A DNA Prediction recently had their DNA kits on sale for $79.99 as opposed to the usual price of $99.99. Gotta keep your eyes peeled for when it is on sale if you are interested in taking the test.

I recently asked a cousin of mine to take the test. Cousin Jacquie and I are 2nd cousins but we are also 4th cousins. [Let the confusion set it.] See, her grandpa and my grandma were siblings which means we have the same great-grandparents in common; that makes us second cousins. BUT my grandpa and her grandma were 2nd cousins which means Cousin Jacquie and I also have a set of great-great-great grandparents in common making us 4th cousins. I know, I know it might be hard to follow. In any case...

This double cousining made me curious as to how we would match genetically. It is my prediction that the DNA results will match us as second cousins or closer, as first cousins because we are genetically second cousins and then some.

We will know in just a few short weeks because Cousin Jacquie has finally spit in the tube. YAY!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Who Do You Think You Are? : Valerie Bertinelli

This week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featured actress Valerie Bertinelli.

Valerie had the opportunity to research both sides of her family; her father’s Italian ancestry and  her mother’s English ancestry. Valerie stated in the episode that she has always thought of herself as Italian especially given her Italian last name. This is a condition I find befuddling. As English as my last name is I always identify myself as American. I would never think to call myself English or Irish or French Canadian but I digress.

Valerie's English side traced back to Edward the First; King of England from 1239 to 1307. That of course for someone it today's day and age to be able to trace their lineage back to royalty but frankly, I found Valerie's Italian ancestry much more interesting. Perhaps it was because she connected with a cousin she didn't know she had. She traveled to Italy where she met her third cousin once removed. That sounds like a distant relationship but it just means this man Pietro and Valerie's father have a great-great grandparent in common.

Cousin Pietro knew much more about the family than Valerie’s father.  He shared with her a beautiful letter his father had in which he expresses the desire for the America cousins to come visit the homeland again. Here more than 40 years later, that wish came true when Valerie embarked on this research. I found that so very moving. Also, Pietro had held onto a postcard  that Valerie's great grandmother Maria had sent to the family right before she left for America. So sweet.

And speaking of America, Valerie has deep American roots. Like many Americans, Valerie identified with her most recent immigrant ancestor, the Italian Bertinelli's, but knew nothing of her American-ness. Valerie's maternal line goes back to a man named James Claypoole, who was very involved in the Quaker movement in England and America in  the17th century. James had emigrated to  Pennsylvania to practice his faith and was closely associated with the notable Colonist, William Penn. 

I found this episode really interesting and again, the encounter with her third cousin to be the most moving.

Next week’s episode of WDYTYA? is on TLC on Wednesday, August 20 at 9 p.m. Eastern time and  will feature actor Kelsey Grammer. I thought Kelsey would be the last of this season's episodes but I noticed in the intro a new face, actress Minnie Driver, and so I am excited to think we have at least another two more week of WDYTYA? this season.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Joseph Sauer's WWII Dog Tag

This is a follow-up to this past Wednesday's semi-wordless post. Many bloggers have a Wordless Wednesday post in which they just put up a picture. That is what I did except the picture actually had words in it so it was only kind of a Wordless Wednesday.

This is the image I posted. It is the WWII dog tag of my great grandmother's brother, Joseph A. Sauer.

This year marks the 100th anniversary, or centenary, of the start of WWI, or what at the time was called The Great War. WWI began on July 28, 1914 and lasted until November 11, 1918. You will see that there will be many events and programs this year reflecting on WWI. 

Joseph served in WWII though which started on September 1, 1939 and lasted until September 2, 1945. Joseph was kind of old to be a soldier at that time. He was born on May 6, 1902 in Manhattan. He enlisted on September 9, 1942 at the age of 40. He died on December 23, 1968, long after WWII. He is interred in Long Island National Cemetery in Pinelawn, NY. 

Joseph's brother-in-law, my great-grandpa Charles A. Henry, who was just a few years older than Joseph, served in WWI. Charles was born March 26, 1896. He enlisted on September 9, 1918. Joseph at that time would have only been 16; narrowly escaped the age requirement for enlisting in WWI.

Here is a photo of Charles A. Henry in his WWI uniform.

Although I love that WWI photo of my great-grandpa, I find something so poignant about Joseph's WWII dog tag. The purpose of the dog tag was to identify the dead. And although Joseph survived WWII, he knew when he was issued that item what its purpose was. It must have served as a constant reminder of the risk he was taking. 

Although the item does not reveal much genealogical information it does tell an important family story about service to ones country. It does list the name and address of the individual's next of kin, though. That much is genealogical. In this case, the unmarried Joseph's next of kin was his widowed mother. If his father was alive at the time, it would have listed him.

I don't know if you can see it but in the lower right hand corner there is a small stamped "O." This was Joseph's blood type. It was placed there to inform medic should the soldier need a blood transfusion. At this time they did not know about the Rh factor; the + or - that now accompanies a letter when you are told your blood type. I am also "O"; "O+" like my father.

In my opinion, the dog tag is the most personal of all items ever issued by the government. These items were there throughout all the battles and service the soldier endured. I am not sure what Joseph did in the war. I have never been able to find his WWII Enlistment Record. And I am not entirely sure how my father came to own this tag that belonged to his great uncle but it shakes me to my core to think about what this tag might have "seen" regardless of what war it was issued for or what service Joseph gave his country.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?: Rachel and Kayleen McAdams

This week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featured actress Rachel McAdams and her sister Kayleen McAdams. The two learned about their maternal lineage, their mother's side of their family tree.

First the sisters traced their ancestry back to England to a couple who met while employed as servants in a manor near Plymouth, England; a manor house which is still standing and which the sisters got to visit. Their great-great grandfather was a footman at the house. I believe it was Rachel who commented that until she had watched Downton Abbey that position in a household would not have meant much to her.

The sisters' also remarked that the path they walked from the house could very well have been a path their ancestors walked as well, maybe even while the couple was courting. That sense of stepping on the same path your forefathers would have walked can be very overwhelming, even palpable at times. It is a sensation I often experience when visiting family gravesites. I wonder which relative or friend of the family stood right where I am now the day this ancestor was buried here. But I digress...

The episode then shifted to the sisters' ancestors in Canada. Like many of the early settlers of Canada, the McAdams sisters' Gray ancestors had once lived a region that is now the United States; specifically the Lake Champlain area on the border of Vermont and New York. The Grays were loyal to the King of England during the American Revolution. Like many Loyalists, the Grays thus fled to Canada when the war turned in favor of the Patriots. The Grays lived in a refugee camp in Quebec under very rough conditions. After the war, Mr. Gray, who had served in the war on the side of the British, was granted land in Canada near the St. Lawrence River. I too have ancestors who settled along the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence but they were actually from my Patriot line.

All in all I thought it was a good episode; not my favorite though. The one thing I did really like is that it showed relatives researching together. I don't think WDYTYA has done that before. And in a way, it reminded me very much of my research adventures with Cousin Mary over at Threading Needles in a Haystack. She and I are 6th cousins once removed - very distant by most peoples' standards but not as far apart as it seems. It is always nice to research with her, to have someone with which to share the excitement of a discovery, the shock and awe, and sometimes the frustration and murderous plots. I kid, we're not planning to kill our common ancestor, Jacob Raynor. He's long dead. We're just gonna kick his ass when we get to the other side for leaving no records behind. Grrrr, Jacob, grrrr.

Next week’s episode will feature actress Valerie Bertinelli.