Monday, August 14, 2017

Remembering Ben and Reflecting on Cremation

On Saturday, August 5, 2017, I received an Earth shattering call from Cousin Peter that his cousin Ben had passed away. Since that day I have burst into tears at least once per day.

Ben was like a cousin to me. I didn't see him often but then again, I did see him more frequently then some of my own first cousins. I think of him as family. He was. And there was a time when we were close; a brief period when we called one another just to chat.

Ben was my age...or just about. I was born in June of 1974, Ben in November. However, I will always be 28. And well, now I suppose Ben will always be 42.

He and I seemed to have very similar emotional responses to the circumstances and situations around us. Ben, however, like so many I have loved, struggled with addiction. Recently, it had seemed he had gotten a handle on his demons; that he was sober and finally in a good place. Sadly, though, it was  indeed an overdose that took him from us.

His funeral was like no other that I have experienced. I thought my grandfather's wake had a huge turn out; the procession from the mass to the cemetery comprised about 75 cars of family and friends. Ben's wake, though, was so crowded that you couldn't move. People were packed into the double room shoulder to shoulder, out the door, filled the foyer, out the building, and down the block. And I had never been to a service where I had seen more people visibly shaken and unable to compose themselves; including me.

That is because Ben was awesome; funny beyond measure, generous beyond belief. He taunted everyone equally and no one was spared.

When I read his obituary I learned that his remains would be cremated and it made me a little sad. I shouldn't have been surprised and I really wasn't. Cousin Peter's family had chosen cremation for both of his grandparents on his mother's side. Of course Ben would be cremated. However, it made me flash back to when I was working on Mr. Boller's scrapbook.

I was about a semester into working on Mr. Boller's scrapbook, my capstone project for my Masters in Public History, when I finally obtained Mr. Boller's obituary which stated that he too had been cremated. It made me sad then that I had no place to go to pay my respects to Mr. Boller whom I had never met. Ben I at least knew and can sense around me since his passing.

However, Cousin Peter has assured me that Ben's cremains will be interred in a columbarium or outdoor memorial wall of some sort so I will indeed have a place to visit Ben. For researchers, however, who read such obituaries, one does not know if those person's ashes are interred somewhere or simply scattered about the deceased's favorite park or body of water or ballfield, what-have-you.  I hate obituaries like that. However, Ben's obituary is really quite beautiful, informative about familial connections (like all genealogist want to see), and very fitting.

If you have someone close to your heart who has struggled with and succumbed to the pain of addiction, or even if they are presently struggling, I encourage you to consider making a donation to Hope House Ministries of Port Jefferson, NY ( They are an organization that ministers to individuals and families in crisis and a place that has provided much love and support to Ben's family. Once you click on the "Submit Information" button on this page (, whether you fill in any information or not, you will be brought to a paypal site through which you can make an online contribution.

Friday, August 4, 2017

More Moors

Several years ago, late June of 2012 to be more precise, some of my very best friends, Andrea and Laszlo, were visiting Laszlo's mother in New Hampshire. It was at that time that I discovered my connection to an American Revolution Patriot; two in fact, my 5th great grandfathers, Colonel Daniel Moor and his brother, Robert Moor. Yeah, one set of my 4th great grandparents were 1st cousins. Daniel's daughter, Eleanor, married Robert's son, William.

It just so happened that Daniel and Robert were buried in Derry, NH right where my friends were vacationing. At my request, their family went trampling around Forest Hills Cemetery looking for headstones of my ancestors. 

Forest Hills Cemetery is where Robert Moor is interred as well as his parents, my 6th great grandparents, John Moor and Janet Grey-Moor.

On my recent road trip to Maine, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia with Cousin Kelly and Cousin Peter, we made our way home through New Hampshire and stopped at the cemetery where Colonel Daniel Moor is interred; Old Bedford Cemetery on Back River Road.

This here is an aerial shot of the cemetery. My Moors are located at the top of the diamond here:

Early settlers of Londonderry, NH, now known as Derry, NH, were buried here. This includes many Moor family members.

To give you an idea how the size of these headstone that appear as little black dots above, here is a photo of Cousin Kelly standing in front of Colonel Daniel's stone:

I am much shorter than Cousin Kelly. Basically, the large stone here is my height; 4' 10".

It is a little hard to read but here is the face of the stone:

A more curious stone to me was this one below. It was tucked off in the corner but right near this family's section. It was that of Peter Moor, a "Negro Servant of William Moor, Elder. He died July 9th, 1790 In the 39th year of his age.":

I do believe William Moor Elder, the term they used then to mean Sr., was the brother of Colonel Daniel but I have to put a little more research into sorting out the mesh of Moors in my family tree and Derry.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Genealogical Sources & Services 101 in Review

It has been awhile since I have posted. It's been a very busy spring and summer. If you have read my blog in the past, you may know that this past June I taught my very first online graduate course on genealogical sources and services through St. John's University's Division of Library and Information Science.

It was a great experience. I really really enjoyed it and my students seemed to as well. I received really positive feedback from the 14 students I had.

They were from very diverse backgrounds which made their final papers fun to read. The focus of the 4 1/2 week online course was for each of them to write a brief biography on a relative who passed away before the student was born. In order to do so they had to conduct their own family history research. This included conducting a family history interview, building a family tree, using online databases through &, and developing research strategies to fill in the gaps in their findings. Additionally, we covered topics more specific to librarianship in the field of genealogy; topics like ethics, empathy, referrals, and public perception. 

Some of the feedback from my students verbalized thoughts and feelings I myself have experienced but was never able to put into words like this:

"While I did not uncover anything earth-shattering about my ancestors, seeing their signatures on documents, photos on naturalization papers, and handwriting on forms (ie: WWI and WWII draft registrations) was enough to bring a smile to my face."

"Going back through my family history made me appreciate where I am today even more."

"I really enjoyed ... how my project brought my family closer."

I look forward to teaching the course again next summer and I'm already thinking about what changes I would like to make to the course. I think I am going to cut out a portion about interviewing professionals and just post some interviews I conduct by myself with genealogy librarians. Also, I think I might add in some brain storming activity about creating potential library programs one could design related to genealogy.

Have you attended any genealogy related programs at your public library that you really enjoyed and/or learned a lot from?