Thursday, January 19, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: A Second Letter from Adrienne La Forêt

As with last week's letter, this piece of blue paper is 21 cm x 26.8 cm.  It also has faded along the lines where it was folded into quarters.  It has the same watermark as last week's letter, but this time I can read the entire thing:  SANDRINGHAM DUALIS PP (with the P's linked) PARIS.  I can't find a reference online to this paper manufacturer, but progress has been made.

This letter is again handwritten in French, addressed to Mon cher Papa, and signed by Adrienne.  Jean La Forêt's older daughter wrote him a second letter that he kept.

The envelope in which the letter was contained is 14.2 cm x 10.2 cm, as with last week's.  Its blue is a little darker than the stationery.  It is again addressed to Monsieur Jean L. La Forêt at 615 Indiana Street in Vallejo.  It cost 150 centimes to mail, although this time Adrienne used three 40 centime stamps and three 10 centime stamps, as opposed to last week's two 75 centime stamps.  But this envelope has something last week's didn't:  a legible postmark!  The postmark says "MANTES A PARIS", which I have not yet been able to determine the location of, but I have found references online.  It does seem to be in Paris.  The postmark date looks like 24 August 1926.

I will again transcribe and translate Adrienne's letter.  The envelope is easy enough to read.

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

Lundi 23 Aout 26

Mon cher Papa,

Je voudrais bien recevoir de tes nouvelles et savoir que tu vas de mieux en mieux a que je souhaite de tout coeur.

J'espère aussi qu'Emma et soeurette sont bien.  La petite Rosita devait lui m'ecrire un peu, elle est en vacance en ce moment et doit avoir plus de temps a elle, cela me ferait tant plaisir.

Je vait très bien en ce moment et me sens forte pour recommencer la lutte quotidienne.  Mais celas(?) c'est un grave problème maintenant que d'arriver a vivre, tant est hors de prix!  on va t-on?  on n'on sait rien, que les pauvres comme moi tant malheureux!  enfin j'ai du courage, pourra que j'ai la santé j'arriverai bien tant de mème a gagner mon pain.  Heureusement j'ai un tant petit loyer et suis petite mangeuse.  En dois voir sur les journeaux ce que tant coute en France!  Et dire que c'est pour ce resultat que nous avons laisser tuer des ètres cheris, et nous avons gagni la guerre, nous avons eu la victoire!  triste victoire si les ètres qui ne sont plus voient, ils doivent fremir dans leur tombeau et regretter leur sacrifice.

Mais je ne veux pas t'attrister plus long temps au contraire je veux te rassurer, le dire que j'ai du courage et que je veux arriver a me refaire une petite situation si ???? me donne un peu de santé.

Lorsque toi ???? mon cher Papa donne moi souvent de tes nouvelles, dis a Rosita de m'ecrire, embrasse les bien fort toutes deux par moi et pour toi recois les plus affecteureux baisers de ta fille qui t'aime et pense a toi


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

Monday, August 23, 1926

My dear Papa,

I would like to hear from you and know that you are getting better and better, which I wish with all my heart.

I also hope that Emma and little sister are well.  Young Rosita should write to me a little, she is on vacation now and should have more time, it would make me very happy.

I am doing well currently and feel ready to start the daily struggle again.  But this is a big problem now that to live, at what price!  Where are we going?  We know nothing, with the pitiable ones like me so unhappy!  In short, I have courage, and if I am healthy I will be successful in earning my keep.  Luckily I have low rent and don't eat much.  You see on the news how much everything costs in France!  And to say that it is for this that we have allowed dear people to be killed, and we won the war, we had the victory!  Sad victory if the people we no longer see must shudder in their tombs and regret their sacrifices.

But I don't want to make you sad any longer, I want to reassure you, to say that I have courage and that I want to redo a small situation if ???? give me a little health.

While you ???? my dear Papa, give me lots of news, tell Rosita to write to me, give big kisses to the two of them from me, and for you loving kisses from your daughter who loves you and thinks of you.


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

I'm very frustrated that I was totally unable to decipher two words in this letter.  I have enlarged the high-resolution versions of these images on my screen and simply got nowhere.  Maybe someone else will be able to tell me what the question words are.

When you read this letter and compare it to last week's, it's hard to say whether Adrienne had heard from Jean in between.  This letter repeats a lot of what was in the first letter.  Maybe Jean was too ill to write to her.  And it doesn't sound as though Rosita had written to her, either.  She wasn't ill; maybe she was a flaky kid, or wasn't that crazy about her older sister.  Or maybe Jean didn't relay the message?

It's nice that Adrienne sent good wishes for Emma in this lette and sent her kisses also.  I doubt that Adrienne thought of Emma as her stepmother in any way, but she's maintaining good relations.

Adrienne didn't include her surname anywhere, so we still don't know if she was married or single.  At least with the postmark we know she was in Paris.  And it does sound like she was taking the traditional August vacation and was getting ready to go back to a normal work routine.

And this is the last item I have in my treasure chest for Jean.  I need to look at my documents to determine who is next up on the list to be analyzed.  In the meantime, I may take a break next week for Treasure Chest Thursday to make my plans.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Wow, It's My 6th Blogiversary!

Photo by Ardfern*
I know there are lots of bloggers out there who have been writing longer than I have, but I'm just amazed that I've been able to stick to it for this long.  It's now a regular part of my routine.

I hit a major milestone this past year:  my 1,000th post.  I looked over my labels to see what I had posted about the most.  First I realized I have a lot of labels, probably because I'm an indexer, and I like a good amount of detail in my indices.  Also, many of my posts have multiple labels.  That said, I was not too surprised to see that the highest number for a label is 296 (almost 30% of my total posts) for Wordless Wednesday, a meme where I don't have to write.

Trailing well behind that with only half the total (150) is Sellers.  The next few significant numbers are for cousins (108), children (104), newspaper research (99), and Meckler (89).  So even though I cover a wide range of topics on my blog, most of the big numbers relate to my own family.  I like that.  And it makes sense that newspaper research is high on the list; after all, I am the genealogy newspaper queen of the Bay Area!

Along with Wordless Wednesday, two other memes I regularly write under are Treasure Chest Thursday and Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.  And I still have a long list of other topics I want to write about.  It looks like I'll be able to keep going with my blog for a few more years.

*Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  The image has been cropped but not otherwise changed.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Best Find of 2016, and Research Challenge for 2017

I love topics where I know immediately what I want to write about.  This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver falls into that category.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music) is to:

(1)  What was your best research achievement in 2016?  Tell us:  Show us a document, tell us a story, or display a photograph.  Brag a bit!  You've earned it!

(2)  We all have elusive ancestors.  What research problem do you want to work on in 2017?  Tell us where you want to research and what you hope to find.

(3)  Put the answers in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.

(1) By far, my best research achievement in 2016 was proving that my paternal grandfather's father was not the man whom my great-grandmother married.  I had suspected for several years that was the case, but I was able to prove it with DNA.  My father's Y-DNA and that of a male cousin who is a descendant of my grandfather's brother show conclusively that they do not descend from the same man.  I wrote about this after I had announced to my family members the results of the test.

(2) The research problem I will focus a lot of my time on in 2017 is identifying this so-far nameless great-grandfather.  I have a strong suspect, thanks to help from Suzanne McClendon, who found a lot of relevant newspaper articles about the candidate after reading my post about my most recent unknown ancestor (who happens to be this great-grandfather).  I've been researching the suspect's family, going back one generation at a time and then bringing family lines forward, trying to find a living male descendant who is willing to take a Y-DNA test.  Even if that person matches my father, the test won't tell me who my great-grandfather was, but matching will tell me that I'm not barking up the wrong family tree.  One step at a time!

Friday, January 13, 2017

I Will Be Presenting at RootsTech!

I received a phone call late Thursday afternoon.  Due to another speaker having to cancel at the last moment, I was asked if I could step in and give two presentations.  I'm sad that my opportunity came became someone else wasn't able to go after all, but I'm happy to report we were able to work everything out.  I will be presenting at RootsTech this year (my first time as a speaker there).  The two sessions will be on Freedmen's Bureau records and Freedman's Bank records.

You know, it's amazing what you can accomplish in a short period of time when you need to.  We were trying to get everything done in time to get my session information into the printed program, and I think we made it.  I wrote and rewrote my session descriptions (including the Twitter versions), updated and uploaded my handouts, and completed all the other tasks on the speaker list.  Plus I booked my airline ticket, found a hotel that still had rooms avaiable (!), and made boarding reservations for my birds.

And since I'll be in Salt Lake City, I'll have to find some time to go to the Family History Library for research.  I just have to narrow down what to work on, since I'll only be in town for a few days.

Genealogy happy dance all around the house . . . .

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: Jean La Forêt Receives a Letter from His Daughter

This piece of paper is 21 cm x 26.8 cm.  It's a lovely blue in color with some fading along the lines where it was folded.  It has a watermark:  I can read SANDRINGHAM clearly.  The next word is DUA, then some character I can't figure out, then IS.  From the other side the character looks like a J, but then the rest of the letters are backward.  Then comes a stylized PP with the two P's linked, and finallly PARIS.

The letter is handwritten in French on the front and back and is signed "Adrienne."  The salutation on the first page is Mon cher Papa:  "My dear Papa."  So here finally is proof that my conjecture about Adrienne was correct and that she was Jean's daughter.  No, this is not a letter from Rosita!  Unfortunately, Adrienne's handwriting is not nearly as clear and legible as her father's, so my translation tonight will probably be less than perfect.

The envelope in which the above letter arrived to me is 14.2 cm x 10.2 cm.  It's also blue, but a little darker than the letter.  It is addressed to Monsieur Jean L. La Forêt (Adrienne even included the circonflexe over the "e" in Forêt).  The address, 615 Indiana Street, Vallejo, California, is the same one Jean included at the top of his letters to the French Consul General that he wrote four months before this letter from Adrienne.  I cannot read the postmark over the stamps, so I don't know when it was sent or from where.

Adrienne's writing is clear enough on the envelope that it doesn't require transcription.  I have transcribed and translated the letter below.

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

7 Aout 1926

Mon cher Papa,

Je reçois ce matin ta lettre du 19 Juillet.  Je suis très triste de savoir que ton etat de santé a necessité ton transport a l'hopital mais c???? tu me le laisser esperer j'éspère que a l'heure ou je t'écrit tu es rentré chez toi et en bonne voie de guerison.  Donne moi souvent de tes nouvelles car je suis inquiète de te savoir ainsi et voudrais tant te savoir gueri. – Je suis en vacances (forcies) en ce moment il n'y a pas causer a Paris cela me reprend qu'au commencement de Septembre.  Je m'ennui très un peu mais qu'y faire? –

J'attend toujours une longue lettre de Rosita cela me ferait tellement plaisir en attendant dis lui que je l'embrasser très fort ainsi que le chère petite haman(?).

On me present pour cet hiver une interstice meilleure, j'éspère que cela reussira, je te tiendra au courant, ce serait pour Octobre. – Je te quitte mon cher Papa, souhaitant de tout mon coeur que le très prochaines nouvelles de toi soient meilleures et en t'embrassant très affectueusement.

La fille qui t'aime


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

August 7, 1926

My dear Papa,

I received this morning your letter of July 19.  I am very sad to learn that your health condition required you to go to the hospital, but ??? you left me hope and I do hope that as I write this you have returned home and are on the road to recovery.  Send me updates often[,] because I am anxious to know and want so much to know that you are better.  I am on vacation (involuntary) at this time[,] there is nothing happening in Paris to bring me back until the beginning of September.  I am very bored[,] but what to do?

I'm still waiting for a long letter from Rosita[,] which would make me so happy[.]  While I am waiting tell her that I send her a big kiss, the dear little [haman?].

I should have a better break this winter, I hope it will be successful[.]  I will keep you informed, it would be for October.  I leave you my dear Papa, wishing with all my heart that the next news about you is better and sending you fond kisses.

Your daughter who loves you


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

The big news from this letter is that a couple of months before he died, Jean was in the hospital with some unknown ailment.  We'll have to wait to find out if he did get better and make it out of the hospital at some point.

For some reason, I'm happy to hear that Adrienne and Rosita were in touch with each other.  Over these months that I've been questioning whether Adrienne was actually Jean's daughter, I also wondered how much communication there was between her and Jean's "second" family.

It sounds as though Adrienne was living in Paris, but because I can't read the postmark, I don't know where she was spending her forced vacation.  If she had a forced vacation, maybe she was working?  Or maybe this was just the normal "everyone leaves Paris in August" type of vacation.

In 1926 Adrienne was 42 years old.  She didn't write her name on the envelope, so we don't know if she was married or was still a La Forêt.  We really don't know much about her at all.

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Latest in Genealogy Journals

I realized I have been remiss lately in letting everyone know what interesting articles are being published in the journals for which I am the editor.  And now that I've added a new (to me) journal to the list, there's a wider range of stories!

The most recent issue of ZichronNote came out at the end of November.  Australian Dani Haski wrote about the status of Jewish record books in Egypt, a subject of interest to her because her ancestors came from Egypt.  Susan MacLaughlin discussed her roots trip to Lithuania, which she originally thought was going to be to France.  Vivian Kahn updated our membership on the latest additions to the Hungarian Special Interest Group database on  Debra Katz tried to entice people sitting on the fence to jump in the DNA research pool and see what they can learn.  Fred Hoffman wrote about some pitfalls of machine translation, including "swanky oxen" and "fetus farms."  And SFBAJGS President Jeremy Frankel and several other members shared their perspectives on the 2016 IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, which took place in Seattle, Washington in August.

The Fall 2016 issue of The Baobab Tree was e-mailed to members in December (yes, when it was still fall, thank you).  We've had a glitch with the printer, so the print copy has not yet gone out, but it should soon.  The big story in this issue was the celebration of the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California's 20th anniversary, which was held at the September meeting.  Dera Williams wrote about the highlights of the day, and Jackie Chauhan contributed a list of some of the topics the society's speakers have addressed over the course of 20 years.  There's also a lovely photo gallery showing many of the attendees and honorees, including our beloved Electra Kimble Price and the ever-busy Ron Higgins.  Lavinia Schwarz wrapped up her three-part story about the research she did on her 2x-great-grandmother, a free woman of color in New Orleans.  A few AAGSNC members attended the 3rd International Black Genealogy Summit in Arlington, Virginia and had the opportunity to meet the Côte d'Ivoire ambassador to the United States.  And AAGSNC President Howard Edwards presented a plaque of appreciation to the Oakland FamilySearch Library in thanks for all of its support over the years.

My new baby is The California Nugget, the twice-yearly journal published by the California Genealogical Society.  This is my first issue, so there's been a learning curve, finding out about all the people and procedures involved.  It should be published this month.  Two things that will be new with this issue are a message from the president, currently Linda Harms Okazaki, in place of the previous message from the editor (because we all know I hate to write), and a regular column on genealogical methods by Rondina Muncy, CG.  In addition to those, Stella and Linda Allison wrote about their great-grandfather's sister, a Mexican immigrant to San Francisco who moved up economically from her beginnings in Mazatlán.  Scott McKinzie used DNA and old-fashioned paper research to determine who his grandfather was.  Joe Reilly and Tim Cox have stories about relatives who served and died in World War II.  Kathleen Javdani dove into research on her great-grandmother, trying to find if the information in a family narrative matched reality.  And Carolyn Ervin wrote about memories of her own great-grandmother, whom she was fortunate enough to meet shortly before she passed away.

There's a caveat, though.  (Isn't there always?)  To receive these fine journals, you need to be a member of the respective societies.  If you would like to read these articles, visit the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society (for ZichronNote), the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (for The Baobab Tree), and the California Genealogical Society (for The California Nugget) to join and you can be reading them soon.

There is a way around that membership requirement, at least on a per-issue basis.  If you have a story published in an issue, you receive a copy!

Have you had a breakthrough in your research, solved a family mystery, discovered a different way to use resource materials, or walked where your ancestors walked?  Do you have an interesting story about your family?  We would love to read about it in one of the journals.  Submission guidelines for The Baobab Tree (including deadlines) and The California Nugget (which will probably be updated soon) are available online, or you can send me a message regarding any of the journals, and we can talk about it! 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Are Your Genealogy Goals for 2017?

It's the beginning of a new year, so for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun Randy Seaver has us thinking about what we want to accomplish during the year:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible music):

1) What goals do you have for your genealogy research, education, and writing during 2017?  

2) Tell us about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a comment to this blog post, or in a comment on Facebook or Google+ in response to this post.

These are my goals:

Personal Research

• Find the son my aunt gave up for adoption in 1945, find his descendants, or at least find out what happened to him.  My aunt is 91 years old, and we're running out of time to let her know.

• Determine who the biological father of my grandfather was.  I think I'm close, but I need to find some living descendants and see if they're willing to take DNA tests to confirm my hypothesis.

• Catch up on entering all the information I found in 2016 into my family tree database, including citations.

• Make sure I have uploaded the DNA results of all the family members who have tested to all possible databases.  Spend more time with the DNA databases looking for matches and contacting close matches to share information.  Work more with chromosome mapping; try the Lazarus tool on FTDNA.

• Share all the photos I've been scanning with family members from the appropriate lines and ask for help with identification of as-yet unlabeled photos.

• Look for a group that is planning to pool money for research in the Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine archive and join up, with the aim of finding documents on my Gorodetsky, Kardish, and Schneiderman relatives from Kamianets Podilskyi.

• Stay in better touch with cousins with whom I have already made contact.

• Figure out how to do some sort of research in Punjab remotely, so I can make progress on my stepsons' grandfather's family lines.

• Get back to working on Irish research, so I can make progress on my stepsons' grandmother's family, my half-sister's mother's family, and my friend's O'Gara family from County Roscommon and County Sligo.

• Any time I take a trip, check to see what research I might be able to do in the area while I'm there.


• Go to the Ventura County Genealogical Society's family history event for Black History Month.  I am the featured speaker, teaching two classes in the afternoon, plus I have volunteered to help with general genealogy questions in the morning.

• Attend the Forensic Genealogy Institute in San Antonio, Texas in March.  I'm registered for three days of classes with Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist!  (Be still, my heart!)

• Attend the annual Sacramento African American Family History Seminar in March, where I will be teaching about Freedmen's Bureau records and also taking the opportunity to attend other classes.

• Attend Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank in June.  I'm teaching one class, but that gives me three days to go to a lot of other classes and learn more cool genealogy stuff.

• Attend (probably) the IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Orlando, Florida in July.  (No, you are not the only one wondering why anyone would schedule a conference in Florida in July.)  I plan to attend, but it depends on whether I have a talk accepted and therefore can justify the expense of flying cross-country.  It appears I no longer have any relatives living close by Orlando, so I might have to (shudder!) pay for a hotel room.

• Attend the Northwest Genealogy Conference in August in Arlington, Washington, if I have a talk accepted.

• Attend the Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference over Labor Day weekend, this year in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I won a free registration, or I wouldn't be able to go.

• Watch Webinars from Florida State Genealogical Society, Illinois State Genealogical Society, Legacy Family Tree, Minnesota Genealogical Society, North Carolina Genealogical Society, Southern California Genealogical Society, and Wisconsin State Genealogical Society, and whatever other ones I hear about.  I average about two per week.

• Attend local genealogy presentations, primarily at the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California, California Genealogical Society, East Bay Genealogical Society, San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society, and Oakland FamilySearch Library.

• Make presentations at local genealogical societies and FamilySearch Centers and Libraries.  So far I'm scheduled for 16 talks, but I usually average about two dozen each year.


• Stick to my average of about three to four posts per week on my blog.  (I'm not anywhere near as prolific as Randy.  I don't know how he does it.)  I regularly post for Wordless Wednesday, Treasure Chest Thursday, and Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, plus additions to the Wikipedia newspaper archives page and opportunities to help with genealogy-oriented projects.  Beyond that, I write about family stories, research discoveries, the journals I edit, and things I find interesting in the world of genealogy.

• I want to update and expand my article on the research I did on my Cuban cousins.

• I have a translation project and two transcription projects I'm working on that I need to devote more time to.

• Write some book reviews that I'm behind on.

• Finish creating a name index for a book about Niceville and Valparaiso, Florida.

All of this should keep me off the streets and out of trouble!