Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Unbroken Chain of Gravestones

I'm going to be pretty much a total failure tonight for Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge.  Lack of digitization is part of the problem, but not all of it.

For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I challenge you to:

(1) Determine what is your longest unbroken line of ancestral gravestones:  How many generations can you go back in time?  Do you have photographs of them?

(2) Tell us and/or show us in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog, or in a Facebook status or Google+ stream post.

Let's see how lacking my contribution is and the reasons for that.

I am happy to report that my father is still alive.  That means that he has no tombostone, and therefore nothing for me to have a photo of.

My mother was cremated and her ashes scattered in Choctawhatchee Bay in Okaloosa County, Florida.  She has no cenotaph or other marker.

So much for my parents.

On my mother's side, even though I have seen it, I don't think I have a photograph of my grandfather's tombstone.  I believe I have a photo of my grandmother's tombostone, but it was taken with a film camera and I haven't digitized the image.

On my father's side, I'm not sure if my grandfather has a tombstone.  If he does, I'm pretty sure I don't have a photo of it.

I do, however, have a photo of my grandmother's tombstone.  (Finally!)  Anna (Gauntt) Stradling [Sellers] was born January 14, 1893 in Westhampton Township, Burlington County, New Jersey and died January 20, 1986 in Lindstrom, Chisago County, Minnesota.

According to FindAGrave, neither Nana's mother nor her father has a marker in the Brotherhood Cemetery in Burlington County, New Jersey, where they are buried.  So I have one generation in this unbroken chain!

But let's get hypothetical.  IF I could find the photo of my maternal grandmother's tombstone, that would give me one for that family.  I do have a photo of the tombstone of her father, Joe Gordon, who was born about 1892, probably in or near Kamenets Podolsky, Podolia, Russian Empire, and died May 2, 1955 in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York:

That's my grandmother, Lillyan (Gordon) Meckler, standing on the left and her brother Sidney Gordon on the right.  I think this photo was taken at the unveiling of my great-grandfather's stone, but I'm not 100% sure about that.

I also know I have a nondigitized photograph of the tombstone of Joe's father, my great-great-grandfather Victor Gordon.  He was born about 1866ish in or near Kamenets Podolsky and died January 26, 1925 in Brooklyn.  So even though I'm not able to post them all tonight, I have a chain of three generations of tombstones on my Gorodetsky/Gordon line.  I have no idea when my 3x-great-grandfather Gersh Wolf Gorodetsky died or where he is buried, so I don't think I'll be adding that to my records anytime soon.  And my maternal uncles are happily still alive.  I think three is about as far as I'm likely to get for a while.

Obviously, I have not made a huge effort to photograph tombstones of my family members, nor to digitize the ones that I do have.  I guess I can't do everything!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Blogger Recognition Award

On Thursday Elizabeth O'Neal nominated me for a Blogger Recognition Award.  Beyond thanking her, I've been told that there are rules to follow after accepting one's nomination.

The Rules

• Thank the blogger who nominated me.
• Write a post to show the award.
• Write a brief story on how my blog started.
• Share two pieces of advice for new bloggers.
• Nominate seven other bloggers for the award.
• Comment on each of those seven blogs to let them know they have been nominated and provide a link to this post.

I thanked Elizabeth once already, but you can never say thank you enough.  So thank you again, Elizabeth!

How My Blog Started

My blog began after I attended a class through the California Genealogical Society in 2011.  Craig Siulinski, who has been blogging for several years about his family, encouraged everyone to jump in the pool.  I had been thinking about starting a blog for a while, and his class was the extra push I needed.  You can read my introductory post from January 15, 2011 here.

Advice for New Bloggers

1.  Commit yourself to writing on a schedule and put it on your calendar.  It's really easy to tell yourself, "Oh, I'll get to that tomorrow."  Then you'll find that it's been one, two, three, or even more weeks since your last post.  And if you don't write regularly, people will think your blog isn't active and move on to others that are.

2.  This is my advice for anyone who wants to start writing:  Don't be afraid to write, but take the time and effort to look over your spelling, grammar, punctuation, flow, etc.  I can't tell you the number of blogs I have read once or twice and then abandoned because of fractured grammar, misspelled words, and incoherent logic.  Every word processor has a spellchecker function, and there are grammar and writing guides available online and in print.  With all the blogs out there, I'm much more likely to read one when I don't have to reread every sentence to figure out what it was supposed to mean.  (Can you tell I've been an editor for a long time?)

My Seven Nominees

Since I'm coming along later in the chain, several of the blogs I read have already been mentioned.  Nothing in the rules says I can't renominate someone, but I bypassed some of the bloggers I read regularly in order to highlight ones I haven't seen mentioned.

Schalene Dagutis - Tangled Roots and Trees
Banai Feldstein - Ginger Genealogist
Emily Garber - (going) The Extra Yad
Lisa Gorrell - Mam-ma's Southern Family
Xiaoming Jiao - All of a Sudden Part Jew
Kenneth Marks - The Ancestor Hunt
Nicka Smith - Who Is Nicka Smith?, Atlas Family

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Jean La Forêt Does Land Research

This sheet of paper is 8 1/2" x 13".  It's a piece of off-white 20# bond with a watermark of BERKSHIRE / SOUVENIR BOND / USA.  It has a small rectangular piece of paper, on which is written "Original" in pencil, folded over the upper left corner.  This page is followed by eleven others on the same type of paper.  They are backed by a rectangular piece of an advertising poster, which appears to have been cut down to size for the purpose of backing these pages.

Jean La Forêt was definitely willing to spend time on research.  It must have taken many hours to find all the records he cites in this document and then type up the summaries.  He researched the property that John Schafer, Emma (Schafer) La Forêt's father, bought in 1856 from that purchase through to 1919, the year Emma's mother died.  He even included transcriptions from Louis and Elizabeth Curdt's divorce case.  Here's a quick overview of the contents:

1856:  John Schafer bought lots 9 and 10.

1864:  A warranty deed was executed for lot 9.  The property was released on margin October 19, 1867, six weeks after letters of administration were granted to Elizabeth Schafer to handle her deceased husband's estate.

1870:  John Schafer's estate was settled.

1874:  Louis Curdt and Mrs. Elizabeth Schafer married.

1883:  Emil Petit and Emma Schafer married.

1885:  Emil and Emma Petit's waiver was filed.

1885:  Louis and Elizabeth Curdt filed a deed of trust on the land with a life insurance company.

1891:  Elizabeth Curdt divorced Louis Curdt on grounds of desertion.  She was awarded custoy of Louisa, August, and Alvina and ownership of lots 9 and 10 but received no alimony.

1891:  Louis Curdt filed a quit claim on the two lots.

1891:  Elizabeth Curdt took out a $2,800 mortgage on the land.  She paid it off in 1895.

1892:  Elizabeth Curdt leased some part of the land for two years to C. W. Seidel.

1896:  Elizabeth Curdt deeded part of lot 10 to Charles Frederick Schaefer (Louisa's husband), apparently for $3,000.

1897:  Charles and Louisa Schaefer filed a quit claim to Elizabeth Curdt for half of the property deeded in 1896.  The amount is $1 and "other consideration."

1897:  Elizabeth Curdt filed a quit claim to Charles and Louisa Schaefer, also for $1 and other consideration, to exchange property.

1898:  Elizabeth Curdt took out a mortgage for $2,800.  She paid it off in 1900.

1898:  Charles and Louisa Schaefer took out a mortgage for $1,000.  It appears to have been paid off in 1904.

1900:  Elizabeth Curdt took out a mortgage for $1,500.  She paid it off in 1903.

1901:  Charles and Louise Schaefer sold part of lot 10 to August Eves for $3,350.

1901:  Elizabeth Curdt sold part of lot 10 to Charles Schaefer for $600.

1903:  Elizabeth Curdt sold part of lot 9 to Jacob Wagner for $2,000.  In 1912 Jacob Wagner and his wife, Louisa, sold the land for $15,000.

1903:  Elizabeth Curdt sold part of lot 9 to William Curdt (a relative of Louis?) for $1,300.  In 1912 William Curdt and his wife, Katarine, sold the land for $5,500.

1906:  Elizabeth Curdt sold part of lot 10 to her daughter Alvina for $1,000.  In 1919, after Alvina had married, she and her husband, Edward Schulte, sold this for $1 on a quit claim deed to Emma Opperman.

1906:  Elizabeth Curdt sold part of lots 9 and 10 to her son, August Curdt, for $500.  In 1909 August and his wife, Mathilda, sold the property to his brother-in-law Charles Schaefer for $1 and part of the land Charles and Louisa Schaefer received in 1906.  August and Mathilda Curdt sold this second piece of land in 1912 for $6,000.

1906:  Elizabeth Curdt sold part of lots 9 and 10 to Charles Schaefer for $875.  In 1912 Charles and Louisa Schaefer sold part of this land for $5,600.  In 1914 they sold an additional section for $2,000.

1912:  Elizabeth Curdt sold for $100 a small easement adjoining property she previously sold.

I can see from this how one could interpret the sales and resales as ripping off Elizabeth Curdt.  Playing devil's advocate, however, it could be that the land had simply appreciated quite a bit due to development in the interim between Elizabeth selling the lots and the children reselling them.  It also could be the case that Elizabeth was being generous with her children.  It's obvious from previous documents that Jean and Emma believed she was being taken advantage of.  I don't think I see enough evidence here of that, though.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Ancestor Had the Most Children?

It's Saturday night, and time for more genealogy fun with Randy Seaver!  This week we're mining details from our family tree programs:

For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I challenge you:

(1) The Family History Hound listed 20 Questions about Your Ancestor, and I'm going to use some of them in the next few months.

(2) Please answer the question "What ancestor had the most children?  How many?"

(3) Write your own blog post, make a comment on this post, or post your answer on Facebook or Google+.  Please leave a link to your answer in comments on this post.

The most children I have entered for any couple in my database is ten.  I found two couples with ten children.  The first couple I am listing are my great-grandparents.

Jane and Thomas Gauntt, c. 1940's
Thomas Kirkland Gauntt, born May 23, 1870 in Fairview, Burlington County, New Jersey; died January 21, 1951 in Mt. Holly, Burlington County, New Jersey.  He was the son of James Gauntt and Amelia Gibson.  He married Jane Dunstan September 2, 1891, probably in Burlington County, New Jersey.

Jane Dunstan, born April 28, 1871 in Manchester, Lancashire, England; died August 1, 1954 in Mt. Holly, Burlington County, New Jersey.  She was the daughter of Thomas Cleworth Dunstan and Maria Winn.

The children of Thomas Kirkland Gauntt and Jane Dunstan are:

1.  Frederick Cleworth Gauntt, born January 7, 1892 in Rancocas, Burlington County, New Jersey; died March 17, 1910 in Rancocas, Burlington County, New Jersey.

2.  Anna Gauntt, born January 14, 1893 in Westhampton Township, Burlington County, New Jersey; died January 19, 1986 in Lindstrom, Chisago County, Minnesota.  She married Charles Cooper Stradling on November 3, 1913 in Masonville, Burlington County, New Jersey.

3.  Bertha Gauntt, born June 14, 1895 in Camden, Camden County, New Jersey; died before June 27, 1900, probably in New Jersey.

4.  Carrie Florence Gauntt, born September 9, 1896 in Rancocas, Burlington County, New Jersey; died April 19, 1985 in Burlington, Burlington County, New Jersey.  She married Levi Ellis on July 29, 1914 in Mt. Holly, Burlington County, New Jersey.

5.  Mary Louise Gauntt, born October 31, 1899 in Mt. Laurel, Burlington County, New Jersey; died 1971, possibly in New Jersey.  She married Oliver Goldsmith Holden on August 10, 1919 in Mt. Holly, Burlington County, New Jersey.

6.  Edna May Gauntt, born July 15, 1902 in Masonville, Burlington County, New Jersey; died January 29, 1981 in Orlando, Orange County, Florida.  She married Roscoe Sherman Flynn on July 4, 1920 in Hainesport, Burlington County, New Jersey.

7.  James Kirkland Gauntt, born August 7, 1905 in Masonville, Burlington County, New Jersey; died October 31, 1949 in Fern Park, Seminole County, Florida.  He married Katherine Boyle in 1932 in West Virginia.

8.  Thomas Franklin Gauntt, born July 14, 1908 in Masonville, Burlington County, New Jersey; died December 4, 1991 in Sarasota County, Florida.  He married Anna Marie Stayton on July 12, 1935 in New Jersey.

9.  Elmer Gauntt, born March 30, 1912, probably in New Jersey; died June 1, 1912, probably in New Jersey.

10.  John H. Gauntt, born December 30, 1914, probably in New Jersey; died March 16, 1917, probably in New Jersey.

The second couple are the great-grandparents of Jane Dunstan and therefore my 4x-great-grandparents.  I don't have as much information about them and their children.

James Dunstan married Maria Hilton on June 6, 1811 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

The children of James Dunstan and Maria Hilton are:

1.  Sarah Dunstan, born about March 11, 1812 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

2.  Richard Dunstan, born about June 9, 1813 in Manchester, Lancashire, England; died after April 7, 1861.  He married Jane Coleclough on December 25, 1833 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

3.  Maria Dunstan, born about January 10, 1816 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.  She married Robert Hill on August 12, 1832 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

4.  Harriet Dunstan, born about January 7, 1818 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

5.  Frederick Augustus Dunstan, born about December 20, 1918 in Manchester, Lancashire, England; died after April 5, 1891.  He married Bridget before 1844.

6.  Mary Ann Dunstan, born about September 25, 1822 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

7.  James Dunstan, born about July 7, 1824 in Manchester, Lancashire, England; died before 1832.

8.  Susannah Dunstan, born about April 27, 1828 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

9.  Caroline Dunstan, born about February 16, 1830 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

10.  James Dunstan, born about October 2, 1831 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Draft of a Response?

This piece of lined paper is 5" x 8".  It has no watermark and is of moderate to poor quality.  It is similar to the page with notes about land that each of Emma La Forêt's siblings had but is definitely of different stock.  This sheet has a larger blank margin at the top of the page, and it lacks the textured lines of the earlier one.  It does have a lengthwise fold in about the same position as the first paper, which could mean that they were in an envelope together at some point.  This sheet has two holes in the upper left (first side)/upper right (second side) that suggest it had a straight pin in it.  The holes are fairly easy to see on the second side.

Everything on both sides of the sheet is handwritten in pencil except for a small typed line on the first side.  It is oriented parallel to the lines on the page.  The writing is probably that of Jean or Emma La Forêt.  (I'm leaning toward Jean due to the awkward English.)  Here is a transcription of both sides.

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Typed line:

Overland  Missouri  February 10th 1919

Front of page:

  You know quite well that the land
you received from her, was given you
because you are farmers, but you
know also that mother gave it to
you under the condition that my
share be given to me, either in cash
or other valuable consideration.
There should Do not forget that
transfer of propriety does not give prevent
the canceling of any fraudulent act –

Back of page:

  Acts accomplished by use of
undue influence and pressure
undue influence and under a
nefaste moral pressure, are
void –
  Is it not very strange that just
at the moment time Mother intended
to call on me, at my house, to speak
over that very matter, she should
have such an accident, . . . and no
                      one around.  Strange! . . .

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

The date is before one topic discussed in the handwritten portion occurred.  Elizabeth Curdt died April 25, 1919, two and a half months after the February date.  The place in which the date is typed and its orientation to the rest of the page suggest that perhaps someone was going to type a note on February 10.  Why that person did not do so, we are unlikely to learn.  The date does not appear to be connected to the note itself.  It looks as though someone who was frugal simply used the piece of paper and ignored the typing.

The note itself has some content similar to that of the letter that Emma wrote to her three Curdt half-siblings:  the discussion of "Mother" (Elizabeth Curdt) having intended that Emma receive her "share."  It has more in common, however, with the handwritten narrative of Emma's life that I posted at the beginning of my journey into this story:  "fraudulent" act, "nefaste moral pressure", and the phrasing used when writing about Elizabeth's death.

I'm pretty sure that "property" was meant where the word "propriety" appears.  Unfortunately, swapping that word in doesn't cause the sentence to make much more sense to me.  I could see that transfer of property would not prevent the accusation of a fraudulent act, but the cancellation of one?

I wish more of these items had dates on them (well, dates that actually relate to the information).  This sheet might have been a draft for a response to the letter from the Curdt siblings that reused phrases from earlier writing.  According to the typed transcription of that letter, an answer was sent on February 3, 1920.  Why, oh why, is there no copy of it in my piles of paper for this family?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hooray for Newspapers!

It's amazing how quickly time can get away from you.  I knew it had been a while since I had posted the new additions to the Wikipedia newspaper archives page, but I didn't realize it had been eight months.  That's obviously far too long.  My only excuse is that I've been busy trying to move to Portland, Oregon, and it's amazing how much time it takes to do all the paperwork.

Lucky for us researchers, almost all of the newspapers added have free access.  The exception is the Friedens Messenger, for which you need to be a paid member of the St. Louis Genealogical society.

• Hungary:  Although the newspaper itself has closed down, the online archive of Népszabadság is being maintained for free access.  I don't read Hungarian, however, and I can't figure out what years are covered.

• Korea (new country!):  Yes, you read that right, Korea.  Not North or South, but just plain old Korea.  The National Library of Korea (in South Korea) has an online collection of newspapers published in Korea prior to 1950.  The link I posted is to the English-language interface, but the newspapers are in Korean.

• Mexico:  El Universal is online for 1999 to the present.

• Sierra Leone:  I discovered that Early Dawn, available on and incorrectly labeled as "Earley Dawn", is also on the Internet Archive and much easier to read, although the site notes that some issues are missing.

• California:  The Monterey Public Library has digitized its historical newspaper collection and placed it online for free.  The 34 newspapers range from 1846 to the present.  They are listed on the library's site in chronological order, which is a little different.

• Florida:  The Weekly Challenger, the newspaper of the black community of St. Petersburg, has partnered with the University of South Florida at St. Petersburg, which is now hosting digitized issues of the paper for 1976, 1985–1988, and 2009–2016.  Plans are to to digitize more historic issues and add them to the online archive.

• Idaho:  The University of Idaho has digitized the historical run of Argonaut, the student newspaper, and posted it online.

• Illinois:  The Aurora Public Library has online indices for the Aurora Beacon-News for obituaries (1933–2004 with many gaps) and for a clipping collection (1925–1956 and 1963–1978).

• Illinois:  The Coal City Public Library has a searchable index for obituaries and death notices, most of which came from the Coal City Courant newspaper.  The index can be searched only by surname, and nothing on the page indicates what years the database covers.  I searched for Smith as a general test, and years ranged from 1884 to 2017.

• Kansas:  The Rossville Community Library not only has posted an obituary index online, it has gone the extra step and scanned and posted the obituaries listed in the index.

• Massachusetts:  Smith College has placed every issue of its alumnae quarterly, for 1909 to the present, online.

• Michigan:  Oakland County has an online historical archive site which houses what appears to be a substantial collection of digitized newspapers.  Unfortunately, I can't find a way to determine the names of the newspapers in the collection or what years it covers.  Seventy-four locations are listed on the browse page.

• Michigan:  The University of Michigan has an online archive of the historical run of the student newspaper, The Michigan Daily.

• Missouri:  The St. Louis Genealogical Society has posted issue of the Friedens Messenger, published by the Friedens United Church of Christ, for 1940 and earlier, although the range is not specified.  Paid members of the society may view the digitized files.

• New Jersey:  The Elizabeth Daily Journal for 1872–1915 (with more years to be digitized and posted online) is available courtesy of the Elizabeth Public Library.

• New York:  The entire run of the New Yorker, all the way back to 1925, is now available through the New York Public Library site with a library card.

• Ohio:  The Lepper Public Library has a collection of seventeen newspapers covering the Lisbon (formerly New Lisbon) area, ranging from 1810 to 2011 (with a lot of gaps).

• Ohio:  The Ohio National Guard has shifted its publication, The Buckeye Guard, from print to digital and has posted the archives of the print edition (1976–2011) on its new site.

• Ohio:  The Salem Public Library has an obituary index for 1938–2016 for the Salem News and will send you a copy of the obituary.  It also has the "Yesteryears" section of the News for 1991–2002 online.

• Ohio:  The Warren–Trumbull County Public Library has two indices for obituaries:  The Warren Tribune Chronicle for 1900–1949 and the Youngstown Vindicator for 2011–2014.

• Pennsylvania:  Elizabethtown College has digitized its students newspapers, Our College Times (1904–1934) and The Etownian (1934–2009), and uploaded them to the Internet Archive.

• Tennessee:  A near-complete archive of the original incarnation of Confederate Veteran magazine, from 1893–1932, including a searchable index, can be found on the Internet Archive.  I placed it under Tennessee because that's where it was published.

• Texas:  The Texas Obituary Project is a collection of scanned obits from LGBT publications, dating back to 1975.

• Wisconsin:  The complete historical run of the print version of the UWM Post, the student newspaper of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, has been digitized.

• Multistate:  The Catholic News Archive currently has nine newspapers (including one issue from 1832!) from five different states and the United States in general.  This is a Veridian site (yay!), and more newspapers will be added over time.

• Multistate: now has a database of GenealogyBank obituaries from 1980–2014.  Even though GenealogyBank itself is a pay site, this collection is free.

• Worldwide:  Catholic Newspapers Online is a portal collecting links to Catholic newspapers from multiple countries, both historical and current, and has 22 pages of links so far.

• Worldwide:  "Last Seen:  Finding Family after Slavery" is a collection of ads posted in newspapers after Emancipation, where people tried to find relatives from whom they had been separated, whether by slavery, escape, or the military.  Currently the volunteer effort includes notices one Canadian and thirteen U.S. newspapers, but the project continually grows.

• Worldwide:  The Mennonite Library and Archives in Kansas has placed online a large collection of German-language newspapers and other publications from German Mennonites.  The countries include Canada and Paraguay!

Wordless Wednesday